A bill intended to bring increased transparency to the California Public Utilities Commission passed the California Senate Energy Committee Tuesday.
Assembly Bill 825, introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), would establish an independent authority to investigate the CPUC. It would also create a Public Advisor within the Commission to put transparency measures in place.
Right now the CPUC is enduring a growing barrage of criticism from electricity customers and lawmakers. Critics in both camps claim it's become beholden to private interests.
Under investigation by federal prosecutors and other agencies are CPUC proceedings and negotiations that led to shareholders dodging 70 percent of the $4.7 billion in shutdown costs.
Utility executives are holding out against providing key documents behind how the costs were divvied up.
Transparency advocates questioned the removal of a portion of AB 825 relating to the California Public Records Act and state open meetings law.
Kevin Liao, Communications Director for Rendon, said those provisions were removed but the bill will rely on the existing Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act instead.
If passed, the bill would allow for public testimony to take place at the beginning of meetings or prior to new agenda items, according to Liao. He said in the past public testimony was sometimes heard after decisions were actually made.
“Rendon’s goal is to have the law applied to and enforced at the PUC like it is at all other state agencies,” Liao said.
The bill will next be in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for approval.
Rendon is chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce.