Legislature Must Rein In CPUC President!

Legislator proposes law to curb spending power of CPUC chief

State Sen. Jerry Hill announced Wednesday that he is proposing a law that would severely curb the financial authority of the president of the state Public Utilities Commission.

The Peninsula legislator is a leading critic of the CPUC and its longtime president, former utility CEO Michael Peevey. Hill’s district includes San Bruno’s CPUC regulated PG&E blast site.

Hill said during a press event Wednesday at the CPUC headquarters in San Francisco that he’s introducing legislation to put a stop to these abuses.

He said he wants a new law that would prohibit the CPUC from doling out hundreds of millions of utility ratepayer dollars to foundations, third-party nonprofits and for-profit organizations, unless first reviewed through the California Energy Commission.

“President Peevey, has in fact made a habit of finding ways to extract money from customers and regulated entities and inject it into the unregulated nonprofits when he then controls,” Hill said.

Hill and consumer advocates site four grants that did not have a competitive application process: $30 million went to the California Clean Energy Fund, $60 million to the California Emerging Technologies Fund and $600 million to the Climate Solutions Institute, which was rejected as an illegal allocation of ratepayer funds.

On Thursday, $152 million to the 21st Century Energy Systems Fund in cooperation with Lawrence Livermore Labs.

“The proposal asks the Commission to give the customer money now and Lawrence Livermore will come up with the plan later,” Hill said.

“Customers get no assurance that even a penny of the $150 million will provide any customer benefits down the road,” said Mark Toney of the Utility Reform Network.

Calls placed to CPUC were not returned Wednesday.

The commission was set to decide on this Thursday.