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: Mindy Spatt, TURN Communications Director, 415.929.8876, ext. 306

Monday, December 1, 2008, San Francisco — TURN today said Governor Schwarzenegger’s surprise reappointment of Commissioners Rachelle Chong and Michael Peevey to the Public Utilities Commission was a step backward for California and a blow to consumers. TURN, California’s statewide utility consumer advocacy organization, said that change is desperately needed at the CPUC, and without it consumers have little hope. The previous terms of Commissioners Peevey and Chong have been marked by higher utility bills, reckless deregulation similar to that seen in the banking industry and excessive ratepayer costs for overpriced utility projects such as “smart” meters.

“There is widespread agreement throughout the United States that change is needed to fix our country’s economic problems,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “California can and should be at the forefront of that change. To do so we need to move away from reckless deregulation toward responsible regulation in the public interest. But Commissioners Chong and Peevey have done everything in their power to take our state in the opposite direction.”

Both Commissioners have a track record of siding with corporate interests over consumer interests. President Peevey has played a pivotal role in energy policies that are costing California consumers billions while providing no discernable benefits, and is actively attempting to undermine the clear legislative prohibition on more electric deregulation. Commissioner Chong’s decisions have lead to substantially higher rates for essential phone service at a time when Californians can least afford it, and are allowing AT&T to suck more and more money out of our state into their corporate coffers in San Antonio.

Toney said consumer groups had hoped to see some fresh faces on the CPUC in 2009. “The Governor should appoint Commissioners who put affordability, accountability and sustainability first, rather than taking us back toward the dark days of reckless deregulation,” he said.