There hasn't been a whole heck of a lot to talk about coming from the California Public Utilities Commission lately.  They are hiring a new Director for their new Consumer Protection and Safety Division-- that's pretty big news for regulated companies as there will be a new face and presumably a new philosophy as to what "compliance" looks like.

But the real reason for the lack of exciting news from the Commission is Bagley-Keene.  The Commission simply cannot conduct its business efficiently!  And this has caused a general slowdown and frustrated industry and consumer groups alike.

The purpose of Bagley-Keene is a noble one: make the public privy to all discussions and deliberations by a California governmental body.  For those of you who are interested, the Attorney General's office put together a "Handy Guide to Bagley Keene."

However, as is often the case, a noble cause had unintended consequences.  The minutiae of the bill has resulted in Commissioners (and importantly their advisers as well) being unable to talk together and build consensus.

In a 5 person body like the California Public Utilities Commission, pairs of Commissioners can handcuff themselves to each other on specific issues as the Act allows for deliberation among a non-quorum of members.  But those two handcuffed Commissioners have no idea if their thinking or deliberations is mirrored by the other three Commissioners-- and Commissioners have no way of educating each other as to what they believe to be the correct course of action with regard to a specific issue.  And they have no way of finding out unless a Commissioner puts out an alternate decision to what was proposed by an Administrative Law Judge.

Thus, we have delay, more delay, and even more delay as Commissioners issue an increasing amount of holds on proposed decisions being brought to a vote.   And we have meetings like the one coming up this Thursday in San Francisco, where the California Public Utilities Commission is considering all of one matter that is not on its consent agenda (utility rules to protect the privacy and security of usage data) -- and that matter has appeared on the Commission's agenda at least two or three times before with no guarantee that it will not be held yet again.