Jerry Brown has appointed utility reform lawyer Mike Florio to the CPUC. Florio is the longtime senior attorney for the consumer watchdog group The Utility Reform Network.

KQED anchor Cy Musiker characterizes the move as a sharp regulatory turn to the left. He describes Mike Florio as being the “terrier dog at the heels of the CPUC” whenever the regulatory agency takes the side of the utilities.

Brown’s other CPUC appointment is Catherine Sandoval, associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law.

A week after the San Bruno explosion, Florio appeared on CNN. (Transcript here.) Here’s a snippet, to give you an idea of just where he’s coming from:

(voice-over): The line that exploded last week was lay down in 1948. It was so old that for safety reasons, Pacific Gas and Electric made plans to replace a section of it in South San Francisco just a couple miles away. In 2007, it got rate increases to do the work. According to a consumer watchdog group, PG&E got $5 million for the project, but the group called TURN, The Utility Reform Network, says it never happened.

MIKE FLORIO, SENIOR ATTORNEY, TURN: The money is spent on what they call higher-priority work.

SIMON (on camera): And what was that?

FLORIO: Well, you can’t track the dollars one by one. But we do know that they spent $62 million more on management incentive bonuses than they had forecasted in 2009.

SIMON (voice-over): Mike Florio is a senior attorney for the watchdog. He says PG&E spent the money dedicated to replace the pipeline. So, it is now seeking rate increases again — another $5 million to replace the same stretch of pipeline.

(on camera): And how do you know this?

FLORIO: Because it’s right in the documentation they file with the PUC to support the rate cases. You know, it’s — if you dig deep enough into these big, thick documents, this is what you find.

  • Regina Costa

    It isn’t a turn to the left. It’s a turn to the old fashioned regulatory approach of basing decisions on evidence instead of ideology, and regulators actually doing the job as envisioned by the state constitution. Actually looking at documents is a turn to the left?

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of EconomyBeat.org, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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