Wed., Aug. 26, San Francisco–TURN today said that a proposed investigation into the culture of PG&E by the California Public Utilities Commission could result in increased safety and accountability, but not if it were kept secret or subject to utility influence. TURN said the CPUC order was vague about the process for choosing an independent investigator, and that the broad confidentiality proposed by the Commission did not appear to serve a valid public interest.
“PG&E employees should be free to speak their minds without fear of consequences, hence confidentiality and whistleblower protections may be needed for some aspects of the investigation,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “But urgent public concerns about PG&E, and the CPUC’s ability to rein it in, must be addressed in a transparent manner.“
Toney noted that the Commission has not used the tools at its disposal to oversee PG&E properly in the past. In order for this new effort to achieve better results, Toney urged that:
-The CPUC should not take confidentiality too far. Employees should be protected, but not management- or mismanagement.
-A public process should be used to find a truly independent investigator with no ties to utility companies, Wall Street, or state officials.
-The investigation should include the serious health and safety problems created by PG&E’s shut-offs of approximately 23,000 customers per month, which reflect a culture of callousness at PG&E.
Toney said the Commission should provide periodic reports to the public on its activities, starting with the its process for choosing an investigator, and that there should be opportunities for parties to express concerns about the scope or methods of the investigation.