State Legislators Call For Drastic Overhaul Of California’s Utility Regulator

by Melanie Mason and Jeff McDonald, Los Angeles Times

CPUC shield

CPUC shield

State legislators are calling for a major overhaul of California’s utilities regulator by striking it from the state Constitution and reassigning its sprawling portfolio in the wake of a series of controversies, including the natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) said his measure would decentralize the California Public Utilities Commission’s oversight of myriad utilities, including electricity, railroad safety and ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

“After hearing about how the clear warnings of the impending Aliso Canyon gas leak were lost in the shuffle, I concluded that we need to rethink the way we regulate utilities in the state,” Gatto said at a news conference Wednesday in Sacramento. “It’s the opposite of too big to fail. Our concern is that the CPUC is too big to succeed.”

The proposal by Gatto, chairman of the Assembly’s utilities committee, would give the Legislature two years to divvy up the functions of the commission among other agencies, which Gatto said would result in a more logical assignment of responsibilities.

Terrie Prosper, spokeswoman for the PUC, said the commission has taken steps toward reform in the last year.

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