California Public Utilities Commission

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Public Utilities Commission
The California Public Utilities Commission is a quasi-executive agency in the California state government. The commission regulates the state's "privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies."[1] The commission consists of five commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. The administrative head of the commission is the executive director, who oversees day-to-day operations.

Current officeholders

The current commissioners are Michael R. Peevey (president), Timothy Alan Simon, Michel Peter Florio, Catherine J.K. Sandoval and Mark J. Ferron. Peevey was appointed in 2002, Simon in 2007, and the remaining three in 2011. Commissioners serve six year terms.

Authority

The commission's authority is established by the California Constitution.[2]

California Constitution, Article 12, Section 1

The Public Utilities Commission consists of 5 members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate, a majority of the membership concurring, for staggered 6-year terms. A vacancy is filled for the remainder of the term. The Legislature may remove a member for incompetence, neglect of duty, or corruption, two thirds of the membership of each house concurring.

Qualifications

The only unique requirement of public utilities commissioners is that they not have a financial interest in or official relation to any utility.[3] However, commissioners must still satisfy the basic requirements for civil service employment in the state; he or she must be a resident of the state, at least 18 years of age, not a convicted felon, and not a member of the Communist Party or any other organization that advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government.[4]

Appointment

Commissioners are appointed by the governor to six year terms with the approval of the state Senate. However, the legislature is permitted to remove commissioners for "incompetence, neglect of duty, or corruption," by a vote of two-thirds of both houses.[2]

California Constitution, Article 12, Section 1

The Public Utilities Commission consists of 5 members appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate, a majority of the membership concurring, for staggered 6-year terms... The Legislature may remove a member for incompetence, neglect of duty, or corruption, two thirds of the membership of each house concurring.

Term limits

There are no term limits associated with the office of public utilities commissioner.

Vacancies

Vacancies are filled by gubernatorial appointment until the end of the term.[2]

California Constitution, Article 12, Section 1

[...] A vacancy is filled for the remainder of the term. [...]

Duties

The commission is responsible for making and enforcing regulation of the state's public utilities, which include electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit and passenger transportation companies. The commission's role is quasi-executive, in that it enforces regulations, quasi-legislative in that it makes them, and quasi-judicial in that it holds hearings and receives testimony on potential regulatory rulings.

The Public Utilities Commission must approve all rate changes, enforces consumer protection and safety laws, investigates complaints or issues concerning public utilities providers. The commission also employees a number of administrative law judges who rule on regulatory matters, facilitate "alternative dispute resolution," and conduct hearings on the commission's rulings or policies.

Divisions

  • Executive Office
  • News and Public Information
  • Consumer Service and Information
  • Governmental Affairs
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Consumer Protection and Safety
  • Water
  • Legal
  • Administrative Law Judges
  • Information and Management Serices
  • Policy & Planning
  • Ratepayer Advocates[5]

Compensation

In 2010, the commissioner received compensation in the amount of $137,100.[6] The secretary's salary, like that of all other non-elected executive department heads, is determined by Section 11550 of California's Government Code and is subject to annual increases.[7]

Contact info

Physical office:
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (415) 703-2782
Fax: (415) 703-1758

See also

External links

References