Bill Would Prevent CPUC President From Appointing Self to Probes

Leland Yee's legislation would ensure the entire commission assigns cases and staff reports to all commissioners.

New legislation would prevent the president of the state Public Utilities Commission from assigning to himself a case similar to the for the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said Wednesday that he plans to introduce the bill this legislative session to bring much-needed accountability to the CPUC.

The announcement about the bill comes in the wake of CPUC President Michael Peevey's decision to assign himself to lead the probe considering whether PG&E should be fined for the explosion, which left eight people dead and 38 homes destroyed.

“This is a consumer protection bill that will not only help hold the CPUC accountable, but it will empower the other commissioners,” Yee said in a statement.  “There is no rational reason for the power to be so exclusively held by the CPUC president.”

Peevey said this week that he would be as "co-equals" on the case, but critics say that won't be the reality because CPUC staff would only have to report to Peevey and not the full commission during the probe.

Critics also say that Peevey's involvement in the case would pose a conflict of interest because the CPUC's lax oversight of PG&E, under Peevey's leadership, was partly blamed for the San Bruno fire, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Yee said his bill would require a vote of the entire commission before assigning cases to specific commissioners. The legislation would also require CPUC staff to report and be accountable to the full commission and not just the president.

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