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CPUC opts to give PG&E $29.1M despite failing
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The Division of Ratepayer Advocates –an independent consumer advocacy division of the California Public Utilities Commission – decried a decision Thursday by the CPUC to award PG&E $29.1 million in shareholder bonuses even though they failed to meet CPUC-mandated energy efficiency standards.

The DRA cited a CPUC staff analysis that – based on rules the commission itself adopted   – indicated PG&E should instead be assessed a $1.3 million penalty and forced to return to ratepayers $76.8 million.

Instead of following staff’s recommendation the CPUC commission  on a 3-2 voted adopted COUC President Mike Peavey’s alternative proposal to the staff  recommendation to award the utilities despite staff determinations using the rules the commission itself adopted. Peevey is a former president of the Southern Consolidated Electric system.

Southern Consolidated Edison is receiving $24.1 million. San Diego Gas & Electric $5.1 million, and Southern California Gas Co. $9.9 million. Southern California Gas was the only one that met requirements original established by the CPUC according to the regulatory organization’s own staff.

Using Peevey’s proposal, the CPUC determined on a 3-2 vote Tuesday that the utility companies’ performance exceeded 85 percent of the adopted goals.

“The additional incentive rewards provided to the utilities today recognizes their efforts and achievements in promoting energy efficiency across California,” Peevey was quoted as saying in a press release. “Such incentives encourage the utilities to embrace energy efficiency as a core part of their business model by aligning the utility profit motive with the broad deployment of energy efficiency measures.”

DRA said the alternate proposal ignores the CPUC’s own $97 million independent evaluation, measurement, and verification process.  That process resulted in a report that shows that the utilities do not deserve any bonuses.   

“California has budgeted nearly $7 billion for California’s energy efficiency programs since 2006,” said DRA acting director Joe Como. “Most of those energy savings come from efficient light bulbs, which no longer require subsidies. If the CPUC does not make fundamental improvements to energy efficiency programs, ratepayers will receive little benefit to the billions they are investing.”

South San Joaquin Irrigation District Jeff Shields said the decision simply reflects the current commission’s track record when it comes to regulating the utilities often at the expense of consumers.”

“Clearly their own staff determined the bonuses weren’t warranted, “ Shields added.

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