Richard Perez

Richard Perez's Blog Posts

COVID-19 CPUC Emergency Customer Protections

In response to the Governor’s State of Emergency California Public Utilities Commission has ordered emergency protections for residential and small business utility customers receiving electricity, gas, water, sewer, and telecommunications

PLANNING FOR PLANNED OUTAGES

Electric companies are allowed to shut off power throughout their territories when the weather causes high risk of fires sparked by their equipment.  During a planned power shut off, landline

TURN Recommendations for Reforming PG&E

(CPUC # I 15–08–019) Key Recommendation: The California Public Utilities Commission must enforce vigorous regulation and structural reform to compel PG&E to provide electric and gas service to its 16

Understanding Time-of-use Rates

Dear Consumer Advisor, I recently saw TURN Executive Director Mark Toney on TV warning about punishment pricing being instituted by PG&E.  I didn’t understand exactly when this would be started,

Can I Sell My Solar?

Everything you ever wanted to know about net metering Dear Consumer Advisor, I’m considering solar panels.  I don’t use a huge amount of electricity, but I’ve heard I can sell

Space Heater Do’s and Don’ts

We all want to be warm during the winter. Unfortunately some of us live in drafty old apartments or homes where the central heating is insufficient, forcing us to rely
Do Not Call Registry

Stop Unwanted Calls

  Sign Up For The National Do Not Call Registry. 157 million consumers depend on the Do-Not-Call list to keep annoying telemarketers away. Those consumers can now enjoy more freedom

How California Got Lifeline Right

By Ana Montes, Special to The Mercury News When Gina Juarez’ husband was forced onto disability due to a heart condition, just paying for the necessities was rough. “One by

Clothesline Protection Bill Signed

California became a right-to-dry state with Governor Jerry Brown’s signature Assembly Bill 1448. This legislation, sponsored by TURN. would allow tenants to utilize natural sunlight to dry laundered items within certain
Ana Montes

Closing the Digital Divide

  by Ana Montes–   Access to the Internet has become today’s new civil rights issue for low-income communities, especially communities of color.   That’s why TURN is a strong supporter

Could CA’s climate credit bypass poor?

Everyone should share in the benefits of green energy California’s new climate credit would be counted against subsidies for many poor households in Southern California under proposals by San Diego

Will the CPUC Throw the Book at PG&E?

By Mindy Spatt      The CPUC will vote on Thursday, Dec. 19 on a proposal to fine PG&E $17 million for doctoring pipeline safety records, which is certainly appropriate.  TURN

TURN’s 40th Anniversary

Thanks to all our supporters, allies and donors for making our past 40 years and our 40th anniversary celebration such a success! And thanks to Senator Mark Leno for this

Did Comcast Violate Your Privacy?

Customers pay extra for unlisted numbers, but don’t always get what they are paying for. According to an investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission, between July 2010 and December

AARP and TURN Unite to Fight PG&E

AARP members stand up to PG&E at public hearings PG&E’s charitable giving is legendary, but it comes with a price tag. That price tag was apparent at recent public hearings

Fair prices for rooftop solar!

Net Metering: A Net Positive There’s been a lot of talk lately about net metering. What’s so special about net metering, and why all the fuss? Net metering is a

TURNS out Verizon Owed Me Money

TURN training leads to refund from Verizon By Jessica Paz-Cedillos Consumers Fight Back Tip Working for TURN has taught me that an informed consumer is a wise consumer. I took

Lower Gas Price Scams?

Don’t Get Gassed: TURN is not convinced that gas deregulation can save customers money. Dear Consumer Advisor, I’ve received a couple of calls from gas companies claiming they can provide

TURN Appeals PG&E San Bruno Bailout

TURN is demanding that the CPUC reverse its Dec. 20th decision In an appeal to be filed today, TURN is demanding that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reverse its

CPUC President Greenwashes His Own Pet Project

Ratepayer watchdogs slam proposed energy research project A prominent California ratepayer advocacy organization has slammed an agreement between the state’s investor-owned utilities and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to conduct

Puzzled About Time-of-Use Rates

CPUC imposes new rates on small businesses Dear Consumer Advisor, I recently heard from PG&E that my small business, a retail shop in Fresno, is going to be billed differently,

No Spoils for the Victor

Recently, Sandy S., a senior who lives on a fixed income, contacted TURN for information on filing a claim against PG&E after a power outage left her with a refrigerator

Two Years, Too Little Change at PG&E

Two years after the fatal and avoidable pipeline explosion in San Bruno, too little has changed at profit-driven PG&E. PG&E is resisting TURN’s demands for accountability for the San Bruno

Your Right To Dry

Is Your HOA standing in the way of solar savings? Saving energy is good for the pocketbook and the planet. Yet a simple energy-saving device that costs only a few

PG&E Solar Rip-Off Defeated By TURN

No customer benefits in PG&E’s self-serving proposal Customers can always trust PG&E to come up with unique, new ways to raise rates, ways that don’t improve either safety or service,

SoCalGas: Direct Assistance Program (DAP)

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) offers no-cost energy-saving home improvements and furnace repair or replacement services for qualified limited-income renters and homeowners. The Gas Company offers no-cost weatherization and furnace

SoCalGas: Gas Assistance Fund (GAF)

The Gas Assistance (GAF) helps low-income customers in the community who are having difficulty paying their gas bills. United Way of Greater Los Angeles works with about 100 nonprofit, community

SDG&E: Energy Team

The Energy Team program provides free energy-saving home improvements such as new energy-efficient appliances and other measures to those with limited incomes and seniors who meet specific income guidelines. Customers

SDG&E: Neighbor-to-Neighbor

The Neighbor-to-Neighbor Fund provides for a one-time assistance of up to $200 on a customer’s winter bill. The one-time bill-payment assistance is available to eligible customers on a first-come, first-served

SCE: Energy Management Assistance (EMA)

This program helps income-qualified households conserve energy and reduce their electricity costs.  SCE pays all the costs of purchasing and installing energy-efficient appliances and equipment, which are free to eligible

SCE: Energy Assistance Fund (EAF)

The Energy Assistance Fund (EAF) is an assistance program designed to help SCE customers in need to pay their electric bills. A maximum of $100 is available to qualified customers

PG&E: Energy Savings Assistance Program

The Energy Partners Program provides qualified low-income customers free weatherization measures and energy-efficient appliances to reduce gas and electricity usage. Criteria: Your household’s total annual gross income must not exceed

Avoid Having Your Utility Shut Off

How to avoid a power shut-off this winter. The most common reason utility service is shut off is nonpayment. However, even in cases of nonpayment, there are certain requirements and

Do Pre-Paid Cell Phones Save Money?

Interested in Pre-Paid cell phones? Get all the information before you buy Dear Consumer Advisor, I recently lost my job and need to cut back on expenses, including my cell

Is Bundled Service Right For Me?

Bundled service isn’t right for everyone. Is it right for you? Dear Consumer Advisor, What is bundled service, and why is AT&T constantly sending me glossy advertisements for it? Do

PG&E’s Backwards Backbilling

Instead of immediately informing a customer she’d received inaccurate bills, PG&E threatened to shut off her power for non-payment of bills they hadn’t sent. With TURN’s help, PG&E backed down

California LifeLine Telephone Service

Struggling to Pay Your Monthly Phone Bill? You Need a LifeLine Discount! What Is LifeLine? California LifeLine helps low-income households by providing discounts for home or cell phone service. Households

7 Ways to Spring Clean & Save Cash

Springtime Cleaning Can Save Energy and Money! Make your spring cleaning more rewarding with these energy saving cleaning tips. They’ll not only reduce your energy usage, they’ll also lower your
Natural Gas Safety Tips

Natural Gas Safety Tips

The DO’s and DON’T of gas safety Natural gas is used by more than ten million Californian households as their main heating source. Natural gas is clean, efficient, and relatively

Ron Kaye: The Arrogance of Power

Why are utilities so intent on forcing smart meters on their customers? In a world gone crazy, teetering on the brink of economic chaos, with thousands dying every day at

PG&E Boosts Safety-Upgrade Plans

Who should pay for pipeline improvements? PG&E Corp.’s new chief executive outlined a broad plan to bump up spending on the California utility’s gas-pipeline network, hoping to restore public confidence

Frisco Utility Needs a Reboot

Critics agree: change is needed at PG&E. TO GET ITS MOJO BACK in its home state of California, Pacific Gas and Electric executives, led by new Chief Executive Anthony F.

Small Refund is Hugely Satisfying

A personal victory against her phone company proved to one customer that speaking out can have big rewards. Sometimes even a small victory can yield big satisfaction for a consumer.

Edison’s Revolt Carries the Day

Energy efficiency slush fund voted down. On a day when Republican Sen. Sam Blakeslee complained about “a long string of union giveaways” in the California Legislature, it was refreshing to

Time for New Leadership at the PUC

A year ago almost to the day, California and the entire country watched in shock and horror while giant flames severely damaged the Crestmoor neighborhood in San Bruno and the

PG&E Workers Say Safety Warnings Ignored

Whistleblowers allege PG&E gave safety short shrift PG&E repeatedly ignored safety concerns raised by its employees in the years before the deadly San Bruno explosion, and the workers were sometimes

Smart Grid Should Not Be Cash Cow

Investor-owned utilities’ smart grid deployment proposals for California need to reflect potential costs and benefits to ratepayers, two consumer advocacy groups told the state’s Public Utilities Commission Thursday. Investor-owned utilities’

Consumers Agree: No Edison Rate Hikes

So Cal Edison may increase its electricity rates starting in 2012, but the CPUC wants to know what residents and business owners think about a possible fee increase. Southern California

Smart Homeowner, Dumb PG&E

A SmartMeter or your power—that was the ultimatum one man faced when he told the installer he didn’t want one. OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO)—A SmartMeter or your power — that was

Report Confirms PG&E and CPUC Failures

PG&E and state regulators were more focused on “checking boxes” than on actually analyzing the safety of their system and learning from problems and mistakes, according to an independent review

TURN Defeats PG&E Again!

Even a renegade utility company like PG&E can be reined in. TURN beats back PG&E’s proposal to add new monthly charges to every customers’ bill, keeping the tiered rates system

PG&E Leaves Customers in the Dark

PG&E Shuts off innocent consumers without any notice or explanation. SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5)—A Bay Area family was expecting a new power meter from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Instead,

The Secret Life of Michael Peevey

TURN objects to fox guarding the hen house. CPUC President Peevey is too cozy with the utility companies he regulates. Inside a legislative hearing room at the state capitol, things

Power To The Powerful

TURN fights PG&E’s attempt to add new fixed charges to every customers’ bill. On Thursday, May 26, the California Public Utilities Commission is set to vote on changes to the

SSJID’s Shields Joins TURN Board

TURN welcomes new board member Jeff Shields. South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields has been selected to serve on the state’s foremost consumer advocacy board when it

Smart Meter Opt-In Left Out

TURN doesn’t think smart meters are all that smart. There should have been a customer "opt-in" to the PG&E wireless smart meter program when it was originally proposed as a

PG&E Raising Electricity Rates

Trashed Meters= Profits for PG&E PG&E will raise electricity rates to make up for the profits it is losing by replacing older, analog meters with electronic SmartMeters, even though the

CEO Leaves Under A Cloud

TURN to protest ratepayer funding of PG&E CEO’s golden parachute. Seven months after the deadly San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced that Chairman and CEO

Failed PG&E CEO To Leave

After a series of mistakes and disasters, does CEO Peter Darbee really have to be paid $35 million to leave PG&E? SAN FRANCISCO (KGO)—The man blamed for creating the corporate

Smart Meters: A Dumb Idea

TURN opposed Smart meters from the beginning. We’re still waiting to see whether customers will see any benefits commensurate with the costs. What are “smart meters” and how do they

SDG&E, Advocates Agree On Wind Project

SDG&E wanted to meet renewable energy requirements by building a wind turbine in Montana with your money. Because of TURN’s advocacy, SDG&E promised to meet its renewable energy goals with

Reactor Reaction

A CPUC judge is will decide whether PG&E should be allowed to charge customers to fund re-licensing for Diablo Canyon nuclear plant before geological studies are completed. In addition to

Brown Names Consumer Advocate Mike Florio

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday appointed a staunch consumer advocate and a law school professor to a powerful state commission that regulates California’s utilities—a panel that has come under intense

TILT: Good Appointments For The PUC

Jerry Brown made some appointments to the PUC, and considering the recent tilt towards the businesses they are regulating, it’s a good start. Jerry Brown made some appointments to the

Jerry Brown Appoints Florio, Sandoval to PUC

Gov. Jerry Brown today filled two positions on the powerful California Public Utilities Commission, appointing consumer advocate Mike Florio and law professor Catherine Sandoval to the regulatory board. {rokbox}images/stories/jerry-brown-appoints-florio.jpg{/rokbox} Florio,

Consumer Advocate and Professor to Join PUC

Gov. Jerry Brown Tuesday filled two of three vacancies on a key panel that decides how utilities are regulated with a consumer advocate and a law professor. {rokbox}images/stories/consumer-advocate-to-puc.jpg{/rokbox} The appointments

Florez Overlooked In Commission Appointments

Former Bakersfield senator was mentioned as a possible CPUC appointment, but not chosen by Governor Brown. Commission President Michael Peevey complimented former TURN attorney Michel Florio: “I have known Commissioner

Utility Reform May Be On The Horizon

Gov. Brown expected to appoint a new regulator this week to police power companies. TURN is looking for independent commissioners who have the guts and the backbone to stand up

Inside Recent Phone Outages

VIDEO: TURN and AT&T techs tell NBC news that recent phone outages in southern California were due in large part to AT&T and Verizon’s failure to maintain their infrastructure. Phone

TURN is Skeptical of AT&T Merger Claims

California Public Utilities Commission set to vote on investigating AT&T deal with T-Mobile. With a majority of its members now appointees of Gov. Jerry Brown, the California Public Utilities Commission

CPUC Could Get Pro-Consumer Majority

The CPUC has been overly friendly to the state’s three big electric utilities in recent years, Gov. Jerry Brown could have a big impact on business and residential energy bills

2011

In the wake of the San Bruno explosion, TURN grabs national headlines with hard-hitting revelations about PG&E’s failure to perform pipeline repairs in a timely manner.

Bay Area Power Plants Under Review

TURN opposes PG&E’s proposal to build a $1.5 billion generating plant in Oakley, CA. Separate meetings this week will mull the future of two power plants—one that might be built

The Yellow Pages Are Green

Seniors, small businesses and cyclists all need the yellow pages. It’s not often that the interests of seniors, cyclists, and small businesses intersect, but we all will be disadvantaged if

2010’s

Under the leadership of Mark Toney, TURN expands its outreach and organizing, and scores major political successes with the defeat of PG&E’s self-serving Prop 16 and expanded influence in Sacramento.

2010

TURN wins kinder, gentler shut off policies to help financially struggling Californians keep their lights on. Now energy companies are required to work with customers to help them keep service

Addressing the PG&E Smart Meter Crisis

Customer complaints about Smart Meters must be heard. TURN recommends the following steps to restore public confidence in smart meter technology. 500 Bakersfield and Fresno residents attended five-hour smart meters

CFLs: Good Green or Utility Greenwash?

Will the last person to leave California please turn off the energy efficient lights? TURN exposes utility mismanagement of energy efficiency programs—California consumers subsidize energy-efficient lightbulbs for the entire US

No Change, No Hope at CPUC

Schwarzenegger reappoints reckless deregulators Rachelle Chong and Michael Peevey to the Public Utilities Commission. For Immediate Release: December 1st, 2008 For Immediate Release From TURN, The Utility Reform Network Contact:

2008

TURN defeated AT&T’s one-sided service “agreement” by mobilizing its members and AT&T customers to speak out against the unfair contract.

Letter From Our ED—September 2007

Few reruns could be more unwelcome than a rerun of deregulation, and even fewer have been outlawed by the Legislature. But if the Governor and his representatives at the CPUC

TURN FOUNDER SYLVIA SIEGEL DIES

For Immediate Release: August 18th, 2007 Contact TURN at 415-929-8876 for more information (M-F) Legendary consumer activist Sylvia Siegel died peacefully in her sleep August 18th. Siegel, who was 89,

Letter From Our ED—June 2007

With millions of utility consumers and perhaps a dozen major investor-owned utilities in California, it should not be difficult to find CPUC Commissioners with expertise in consumer issues who do

2007

TURN helped consumers unfairly kicked off of LifeLine phone service get reinstated and participated in coalition to improve Universal Telephone Service.

Letter From Our ED—January 2007

No matter wins an election, TURN will insure consumer voices are heard, through our work in coalitions, through outreach and education, and by pushing a legislative agenda that touts consumer

Letter From Our ED—September 2006

Good intentions are fine, but when the CPUC and the energy companies they regulate start to talk about how they want to put those good intentions into action, watch your

Letter From Our ED—June 2006

TURN’s advocacy efforts take a variety of shapes in a number of different forums. In many ways we are known best for the work of our staff advocates who appear

Letter From Our ED—July 2005

TURN celebrates turning 30-something with a party and by continuing to fight for ration energy and telecommunications policy. What a year 2005 is shaping up to be! On the phone

Letter From Our ED—April 2005

There’s strength in numbers. TURN knows the truth of that adage all-too-well. Normally we think about it in terms of the strength TURN gains from its thousands of members. There

From TURN’s ED—January 2005

Fall is always a season of transition, and this year is no exception on any number of fronts for TURN and our members. Despite continuing to be massively outnumbered and

2004

At TURN’s urging the CPUC institutes the Family Energy Rate Assistance (FERA) program, substantially lowering bills for low to middle income customers with large households.

2002

TURN successfully advocates for the Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation requiring California to dramatically increase its use of renewable energy to 20% statewide. The measure means not only cleaner air but

2000’s

We told you so! TURN’s worst fears about deregulation are realized as wholesale energy prices go through the roof and greedy generators ship power out-of-state, causing rolling blackouts throughout California.

1999

TURN successfully opposes PG&E’s plan to continue ratepayer subsidies for its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant past 2002, saving consumers millions.

1996

TURN is instrumental in getting the Legislature to pass a “universal service” bill, which sets up a CPUC fund to underwrite telephone service to remote areas.

1994

A CPUC decision opening to the local toll market is rescinded after TURN blows the whistle on a CPUC commissioner who allowed a Pacific Bell manager to improperly lobby decision-makers.

1993

A complaint by TURN results in Pacific Bell refunding $49 million to customers.

1990’s

TURN fights the free market, warding off phone deregulation, and challenging the benefits of electric deregulation in the Legislature while Enron and other energy companies lobby for access to California.

1988

TURN convinces the CPUC to reject Southern California Edison’s proposed “customer charge,” which would have cost customers $4.65 a month regardless of whether they used any electricity that month.

1986

TURN stops Pacific Bell’s proposed sale of residential customer’s names to direct marketing firms and high-pressure sales tactics uncovered after numerous complaints to the CPUC. Refunds and corrections are ordered,

1985

Not only does TURN defeat a $492 rate hike, the CPUC orders Pac Bell to decrease rates!

1980’s

TURN grows, adding new staff, and launches a monthly newsletter, TURNING POINTS. While continuing to challenge utility rate hikes, TURN works to educate consumers about unjust and expensive utility schemes,

1980

Due to TURN’s advocacy, the CPUC penalizes PG&E for imprudent gas purchases and dismisses its $569 million rate increase request.

1979

TURN wins its first US Supreme Court case when the high court upholds a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) order compelling Pacific Telephone and General Telephone to refund $351 million

1976

TURN wins a victory for low-income Californians by stopping the phone company practice of charging Lifeline customers extra for calls that lasted more than 5 minutes.

1975

TURN’s convinces the California Legislature to adopt “Lifeline” electric rates. The new rate structure keeps minimal usage affordable and encourages conservation with low rates for baseline usage, and is still

1970’s

Sylvia Siegel, fed up with high electric bills, has a brilliant idea. She founds a nonprofit organization to represent consumer interests at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), with the