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Effort To Break Up Calif. Utilities Commission Advances

angstdei / Flickr
 

angstdei / Flickr

The California Public Utilities Commission has suffered through federal investigations and accusations of coziness with the power companies it oversees. Next, it could be dissolved.

Legislation that cleared the state Assembly before a deadline last week seeks to allow lawmakers to redistribute the commission’s responsibilities, including oversight of electric utilities, telecommunications, and taxis.

The author, Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto, cites several high-profile problems under the commission’s oversight.

"When I go to the Bay Area I hear about San Bruno [2010 pipeline explosion]," Gatto says. "When I go to Los Angeles, I hear about Porter Ranch [natural gas storage leak]. When I’m in the Central Valley, I hear about the oil trains going through their community, and in San Diego, of course, San Onofre [2012 nuclear plant closure]."

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed several measures to increase transparency at the utilities commission. The governor called them unworkable, but said he was open to other legislation.

This bill would bypass the governor, and instead seek approval from voters. That could happen as early as November, if the Senate approves the measure.