Friday, December 16, 2011
Consumers had high hopes this year for the regulators who oversee California's power companies, but watchdog groups see little change with Governor Brown's three new appointees.
Consumer advocates had long complained that the PUC gave the power companies too much deference. They cite rate increases to big projects that didn't benefit customers to bonuses. Consumer groups hoped that Brown's three new appointees would restore fairness and place a greater focus on customer needs. But this year, the PUC awarded California utilities energy efficiency bonuses and allowed SDG&E to again hike rates to fund wildfire liability insurance. Local energy engineer Bill Powers said rate increases , bonuses, confidential contracts and SDG&E's request to charge solar operators extra fees are all business as usual.
"And the only reason this is happening is because the investor-owned utilities in the state like SDG&E know the PUC is their friend," Power said. "They are trying to get maximum mileage out of their inappropriately close relationship."
SDG&E Spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan said the PUC makes its decision based on the facts. To suggest any of the commissioners is biased impugns their intelligence, integrity and due diligence.