Senate Subcommittee Hearing on Safety and the California Public Utilities Commission

November 19, 2013

Senator Hill Holds Hearing on Improving Safety Oversight at the California Public Utilities Commission

Assemblymembers Bradford and Mullin Join Hill to Question CPUC on Safety Policy and Practices

As chair of the state Senate's Subcommittee on Gas and Electic Infrastructure Safety, Senator Jerry Hill held a hearing with Assemblymembers Steven Bradford and Kevin Mullin on November 18 in San Francisco to examine the CPUC's progress on safety oversight in the three years since the fatal PG&E gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

Bradford, D-Gardena, chairs the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, and Mullin, D-South San Francisco, is the Assembly's Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore.

The legislators' line of inquiry dovetailed the senator's subcommittee hearing in October, which focused on improving PG&E's safety-related communciations with cities, particularly San Bruno and San Carlos where concerns about the utility's gas pipelines continue.

The hearing in San Francisco focused on the California Public Utilities Commission's safety oversight of the utilities it regulates -- as well as the safety policies and practices of the agency itself.

The starting point for the discussion was the subcommittee's report "Slow Progress Toward Safety: Improving Performance and Priorities in the Safety Plans of the California Public Utilities Commission." The report, issued last month, found that the CPUC’s priorities do not include safety, that safety isn’t adequately considered in utility proposals for rate increases, and that the CPUC’s safety enforcement programs are in disarray.

Hill, Bradford and Mullin heard testimony from safety experts, Don Arendt, senior technical advisor for safety management at the Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards Service, Richard Callahan, chair of Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration at the University of San Francisco's School of Management, Papia Gambelin, director of the North Coast Region for Pacific, Gas and Electric Company, CPUC Commissioner Michel Peter Florio and CPUC Deputy Executive Director Brian Turner.

The agendas and background material for the hearings on November 18 and October 28 are here.

The subcommittee report is available here.