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CPUC: When a Consumer Advocate Isn’t

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
March 7, 2012

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) is suppose to be a consumer advocate, it’s supposed to be a watchdog agency that keeps California’s public utilities in line so that they don’t rip off rate payers. Unfortunately, as the SF Chronicle’s Katy Grimes says, the regulator is instead responsible for a culture of corruption with the state’s utilities.

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It almost seems as if the CPUC is an arm of the rate-hiking utilities instead of their minder!

“The California Public Utility Commission,” Grimes says, “has a history of allowing utility companies to increase utility rates without much proof of need, resulting in some of the highest utility rates in the entire country. Despite gross mismanagement and well-documented negligence, the CPUC has allowed Pacific, Gas & Electric Company to continually increase utility rates, passing tremendous costs on to rate payers.”

Grimes details a lot of the scams and broken promises about rates in California all this quite despite the fact that PG&E is actually responsible for the deaths of at least 8 Californians due to its negligence.

One thing that Grimes didn’t focus on too much is the fact that PG&E has taken billions from ratepayers that it claimed it needed for safety upgrades but never made any of the safety upgrades it claimed it needed.

Even though the CPUC found that PG&E violated the law, the purported watchdog agency continues to act as the utility’s biggest insider advocate helping the company further rip off ratepayers at will. It just makes one wonder for just whose interests the CPUC is working.

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