CPUC gut-and-amend reform bill published

by Steve Blum • , , ,

No surprise, really.

A draft of a bill to overhaul the California Public Utilities Commission is up on the state legislature’s website. It’s a gut-and-amend job by assemblyman Mike Gatto (D – Los Angeles) on an assembly bill – AB 2903 – that originally concerned damages resulting from the state’s energy crisis in 2000.

It appears to be in line with the grand compromise reached with governor Brown in June. The California Research Bureau, a division of the state library, would get the job of evaluating the CPUC’s future role in telecoms regulation. It would be given until the end of next year to…

Conduct a study of telecommunications service governance to determine what regulatory structure would provide the appropriate regulatory oversight of telecommunications services. The study shall assess the overarching goals of the various programs carried out by the Public Utilities Commission and include a discussion of whether the commission, as a whole, is strategically aligned towards a clearly articulated public goal. This portion of the study shall take into account the history of telecommunications service regulation in the state and changes in technology to make recommendations for guiding principles to clearly define California’s goals for the regulation of the telecommunications industry.

There’s a long check list of items that the study has to cover, including the evolving mix of telecoms regulatory responsibilities at federal, state and local government levels, and how the CPUC’s historical role meshes with rapidly changing technology.

The bill hits on the other points in the grand compromise, including moving some transportation oversight duties to the state transportation department, recasting CPUC management roles, procedures and ethics rules, and generally asking the question what should the CPUC be doing in the 21st century?

And that’s the overall thrust of the bill: ask a lot of questions, but leave the answers to be worked out later, by the legislature, state agencies under the governor’s direct supervision and the CPUC itself.

I don’t expect this version to be the final-final, but given the extensive backroom discussions that have been going on over the past few weeks between lawmakers, the governor’s office and industry lobbyists, it’s probably pretty close.

Read the full version of the bill here:

Assembly bill 2903, an act relating to the California Public Utilities Commission