SACRAMENTO – As one of his first bills for 2020, Senator Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) introduced a measure to force the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to be more accountable.
Last fall, many Californians experienced multiple Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) as a result of poor planning for wildfires by utilities. The vast majority of these power shutoffs affected residents throughout the 1st Senate District, including some of the Senator’s staff and their families.
While utility companies are largely to blame for not maintaining their infrastructure, the California Public Utilities Commission is responsible for regulating utilities and holding them accountable for promises they made in exchange for rate increases; Promises that would improve their response to natural disasters and wildfire safety through upgrades and maintenance, which has been severely lacking over decades.
SCA 7 will give voters a say on the election of CPUC commissioners rather than being appointed. Elected commissioners would be subject to the same provisions of the California Constitution that apply to other state elected officials, including to the ability to recall, their compensation, and monitoring conflicts of interest. Individuals elected to these positions would represent the customer, not the Governor or his Administration.
“Commissioners need to know who they’re working for – the customers,” said Senator Brian Dahle. “Making them interview for the job and perform with the voters in mind will change their perspective, for the better.”
It’s time for the people of California to have confidence in their utilities that the power will remain on, prices will be steady and reasonable, and ensure that utilities are performing the necessary upgrades along with ongoing maintenance programs to prevent future catastrophic fires, making PSPS a thing of the past.