Time for changes at the CPUC? Hill thinks so

April 23, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo: Michael Peevey, California Public Utilities Commission president, a ‘dictator’

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has challenged both Pacific Gas and Electric and the agency that governs it, the California Public Utilities Commission, to step up and make the state’s gas delivery system safer after the San Bruno pipeline explosion and fire that killed eight in 2010.

Over the years, Hill has crafted legislation to make both PG&E and the CPUC more accountable to the public while also safeguarding it.

But numerous reports, especially an internal “Safety Culture” document released last week, indicates that the CPUC has placed less importance on safety than it should have.

Now, Hill has a new challenge for the CPUC — have your president sit down with lawmakers this Thursday to answer questions related to fiscal responsibility and safety issues.

The CPUC president is Michael Peevey, appointed to the post more than 10 years ago by then governor Gray Davis.

Hill calls Peevey a “dictator” who can only be ousted from his job by Gov. Jerry Brown or a two-thirds vote in the Legislature.

“It would be nice to be able to question him,” Hill told the Daily Journal yesterday.

Hill invited Peevey to testify at the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee this Thursday.

“All concur that there is a problem at CPUC. It appears to be out of control,” Hill said about National Transportation Safety Board, Legislative Analyst’s Office and internal CPUC reports.

The confidential internal CPUC report released last week quoted numerous employees of the organization who said safety was not a priority or that the commission did not want to levy fines for safety violations against utilities such as PG&E.

“If we were enforcing the rules, we would not have to worry about a safety culture. If we were holding the utilities accountable and doing what we were supposed to be doing, San Bruno would never have happened,” one employee was quoted as saying in the “Safety Culture” document.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were also misallocated by the CPUC, Hill contends.

Hill wants Peevey to justify his “continued appointment as president” of the CPUC, according to a letter he sent him last week.

“I can only assume it’s the leadership,” Hill said about CPUC failings. “Whoever the president is — do the job properly.”

Peevey was reappointed to the presidency in 2008 by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His term expires Jan. 1, 2015.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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