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The California Public Utilities Commission Couldn’t Offer A List Of Everything It Regulates. So We’re Trying To Make One.

Emily Zentner/Capital Public Radio

Emily Zentner/Capital Public Radio

The California Public Utilities Commission is a sprawling organization that covers hundreds of individual businesses and utilities across the energy, water, transportation and telecommunications industries.

But it appears an up-to-date list of the agency’s regulatory responsibilities does not exist (one from 2013 can be found here). So, CapRadio is attempting to compile one. 

However, because each industry’s regulatory environment is unique and complicated, this document is a work in progress

As we report in our in-depth look at whether the commission should be split up, not all regulatory areas are created equal. A good rule of thumb is that the CPUC oversees safety for the utilities and modes of transportation that fall under its responsibility, and sets rates for privately owned utilities with monopolies over their service areas. It also grants licenses to businesses in the industries it oversees. But there are always exceptions and carve-outs.

If you spot something that doesn’t match your understanding of what the commission does, please let us know!

Natural Gas:

  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
  • Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)
  • San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)
  • Southwest Gas Corporation
  • Southern California Edison (Avalon LPG)
  • Other, smaller, investor-owned natural gas utilities
  • Lodi Gas Storage
  • Wild Goose Storage
  • Central Valley Storage
  • Gill Ranch Storage
  • Natural gas pipelines
  • Liquid petroleum (propane) gas pipelines and more than 600 propane operators
  • Natural gas systems at more than 2,800 mobile home parks


Investor-Owned Electric Utilities:
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)
  • Southern California Edison (SCE)
  • San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)
  • Three other IOUs that provide electricity to small parts of the state
Electric Generation Facilities (Power Plants):
  • Procurement only, for purposes of regulating IOU rates; siting is permitted by local governments


Landline carriers (both VoIP and traditional — includes cable companies if they also offer phone service)
  • AT&T
  • Comcast
  • Cox
  • Frontier (which purchased Verizon’s assets)
  • Spectrum
  • Smaller carriers (mostly in rural areas — these are monopolies because they don’t face competition, so their rates are regulated)
Wireless carriers
  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Smaller carriers
  • Prepaid calling card vendors
  • Prepaid cell phone/service providers
(Note: The CPUC only regulates licenses and surcharges — not rates, services, etc.)


Rail safety
  • Railroad safety (i.e. freight train operators like Union Pacific and BNSF)
  • Rail transit safety (i.e. high-speed rail, commuter rail, light rail and subway systems)
  • Rail crossing safety (i.e. roadways over tracks)

Passenger carriers

  • Passenger Stage Corporations that provide service to the general public and charge on an individual fare basis
    • Airport shuttles (i.e. Super Shuttle)
    • Scheduled bus operators (i.e. Greyhound and Megabus)
  • Charter Party Carriers
    • Transportation Network Companies (i.e. Uber and Lyft)
    • Limos, charter buses and round-trip sightseeing services that are booked by the vehicle
  • Vessel Common Carriers (boat transportation such as the San Francisco Bay Ferry and the Catalina Island ferry)

No longer regulated by the CPUC as of July 1, 2018 pursuant to SB 19 (Hill) of 2017:

  1. Household Goods Movers (residential moving companies) — now regulated by the California Department of Consumer Affairs
  2. Private Passenger Carriers (private buses or vans, such as those operated by churches or camps) — now regulated by the California Department of Motor Vehicles
  3. Vessels for Hire (boats used for sightseeing or fishing) — now regulated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation
  4. Commercial Air Operators (such as chartered in-state flights, flight schools, hot air balloons) — now regulated by local governments

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