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CPUC president wants to reward PG&E $29.1M for failing to perform
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The business climate is bad in California.

But how bad can it really be when Meg Whitman made enough money running California-based e-Bay to blow $140 million in her race for governor or when state regulatory agencies such as the California Public Utilities Commission do more to protect profits of mega-corporations than they do to protect the people of this state?

The latest CPUC plan is to kowtow to big business to reward PG&E, San Diego Gas & Power, Southern California Edison, and So Cal Gas for failing to meet mandated CPUC goals for customer-funded energy efficiency programs.

It is a proposal authored by none other than CPUC commission president Michael Peevey. He happens to be the former head honcho for Southern California Edison which stands to receive $18.6 million under his proposal that goes before the CPUC on Thursday for essentially failing to meet state mandates. The big winner, in case you’re wondering, is PG&E. Under Peevey’s proposal they would pocket $29.1 million for failing to do their job.

That, of course, is part of the PG&E corporate culture - being rewarded for failing to deliver. While they were holding the line on work-and-file pay and shedding positions by the hundreds and jacking up rates because the corporate elite drove the company to the brink of financial collapse, they rewarded the top 20 executives at 245 Market Street in San Francisco with more than $12 million in bonuses for a job well done.

The CPUC staff analyzed the programs run by the various utilities and determined they came up short of the goals.

Yet Peevey wants the incentives awarded anyway to the tune of $62.7 million statewide or $1.65 for every man, woman and child in California. That $62.7 million would be paid by the same people who are funding the energy efficiency programs - ratepayers of public utilities such as PG&E. And the $62.7 million would boost utility profits and not help the ratepayers that funded them.

If the business climate gets any worse, utility honchos are going to have to hire consultants - at ratepayer expense of course - to help them with ideas on how to spend their seven figure corporate checks and performance bonuses.

Of course, in this case the ratepayers are being forced to pay for energy efficiency programs that would improve the bottom line of companies such as PG&E. If they had made it, the CPUC staff would have recommended awarding the incentives that would have come out of the pocketbook of ratepayers. And since they didn’t make it, Peevey seems to think it is only fair ratepayers pay anyway.

The Utility Reform Network (TURN) notes “the undeserved windfall… will drive up customer costs with no resultant benefits.”

And this is coming on the eve of a pending CPUC decision on whether to grant PG&E the biggest electorate rate hike in California history - $1.01 billion.

And to add insult to injury, the CPUC board had previously advanced the utilities $143.7 million in incentives on the backs of ratepayers for the efficiency programs without it being determined if it was deserved.

That isn’t conjecture. That comes from the ruling of an administrative law judge who noted under a previous CPUC decision customers were required to pay incentives only “to the extent that benefits actually materialize.”

All of this comes as PG&E - a utility the CPUC is supposed to regulate and oversee- admits they had no idea what type of pipe they had in the ground in San Bruno. Of course, we know that not because of the CPUC breaking a sweat to protect Californians but due to a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

It is painfully obvious the CPUC board is in the pocket of the big for-profit utilities.

The CPUC needs to have an appointed board that works to protect small businesses, farmers and residents and not have its primary focus on boosting the bottom line of PG&E et al.