More consumerism from the California Public Utilities Commission — that was a fond hope of at least some of the voters who gave Jerry Brown a rare third term in the governor’s office.
So far, they’ve been disappointed, even though Brown appointees now make up a majority of the five-member commission that decides what Californians pay for electricity, natural gas and (in some places) water.
Under Brown’s appointees, the commission has encouraged a profusion of huge solar thermal energy projects guaranteed to fatten the coffers of companies like Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. It has done little to punish PG&E for the negligence leading to the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that killed eight and destroyed many more homes. It has kept secret the costs customers will eventually pay for several new power sources. And more.
This is California’s most powerful regulatory agency because once they’re appointed, commissioners can’t be removed even by the governor who named them. Now comes a rare opportunity for the PUC to prove it is just as interested in the welfare of state residents and small business as it is in helping giant utility companies...