Welcome to the April 2012 edition of the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you'll find information on State Senate confirmation of a Commissioner, a major milestone in the Supplier Diversity Program, a proposal to increase access to CPUC documents, and more!


CPUC Supplier Diversity Program Hits Procurement Milestone

Companies participating in the CPUC’s supplier diversity program have hit a milestone of procuring more than $7 billion in goods and services from women, minority, and disabled veteran-owned business enterprises.

The CPUC encourages companies to procure from diverse suppliers who are by and large small businesses. In its General Order 156, the CPUC encourages investor-owned utilities to purchase 21.5 percent of its goods and services from diverse firms (15 percent minority owned firms, 5 percent women-owned firms, and 1.5 percent disabled veteran-owned firms).

The utilities and telecommunication companies report annually on their procurement purchases from these enterprises and reports were submitted to the CPUC on March 1, 2012.

Of the more than 30 companies participating in the Supplier Diversity Program, those doing the most business with diverse firms in the past year include:

  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company: $1.61 billion, or 36.56 percent
  • Southern California Edison: $1.4 billion, or 33.70 percent
  • AT&T: $1.07 billion, or 44.1 percent
  • AT&T Wireless: $707 million, or 21.4 percent
  • Sprint: $686 million, or 27.76 percent
  • San Diego Gas and Electric: $564 million, or 38.13 percent
  • Southern California Gas Company: $308 million, or 38.12 percent
  • Verizon: $124 million, or 44 percent

Said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey, a champion of the Supplier Diversity Program, “This is a great achievement for these companies. In the past 10 years, the Supplier Diversity Program has blossomed from one that was languishing with just over $1 billion in procurement into one that is now thriving, with participating companies collectively procuring more than $7 billion.  Companies must invest in the diversity of America, and continue to do so at an increasing level.  Small and diverse businesses are the backbone of our economy. I commend those companies who have embraced supplier diversity and incorporated it into their supply chain.  Supplier diversity is no longer a social justice program, but contributes to shareholder value and is an important investment in the communities the companies serve. I applaud each and every company that is participating in our program and welcome others to take a step forward and become part of this great program.”

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CPUC Acts to Further Reduce Service Disconnections in PG&E and SCE Service Areas

The CPUC has approved several measures to reduce the number of residential energy customer service disconnections in the service areas of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) as part of the CPUC’s ongoing efforts to identify cost-effective ways to help consumers keep the lights on.

The CPUC directed PG&E and SCE to:

  • Ensure that their customer service representatives (CSRs) offer customers the option of enrollment in the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) rate program by telephone discussion with a CSR.
  • For any written communication to customers concerning the risk of service disconnection, provide key information, including the fact that service is at risk and a way to follow up for additional information, in large print.
  • For customers who have previously been identified as disabled and who have identified a preferred form of communication, provide all information concerning the risk of disconnection in the customer's preferred format.
  • For households identified as using non-standard forms of telecommunication, ensure that outgoing calls regarding the risk of disconnection are made by a live representative.
  • Inform any customer that owes an arrearage on a utility bill that puts the customer at risk for disconnection that the customer has a right to arrange a bill payment plan extending for a minimum of three months the period in which to repay the arrearage.
  • Allow CSRs the discretion to extend the period in which to pay the arrearage from three months up to 12 months.
  • Provide that CARE and Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) customers are not required to pay additional reestablishment of credit deposits with a utility for either slow-payment/no-payment of bills or following a disconnection.
  • Provide that medical baseline customers, life support customers, and customers who certify that they have a serious illness or condition that could become life threatening if service is disconnected will not be disconnected without an in-person visit from a utility representative.
  • Offer their non-cash credit deposit options to all new customers and those required to post a reestablishment of credit deposit following a disconnection.
  • Collect from customers a reestablishment of credit deposit following a disconnection based on twice the average monthly bill, rather than twice the maximum monthly bill.
  • Not collect credit deposits for late payment of bills.

The utilities will follow these directives until December 31, 2013, with a few exceptions, including the requirement that CSRs offer enrollment in CARE rates by telephone and the requirement for a pre-disconnection site visit for vulnerable customers, both of which do not expire.

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Commissioner Ferron Confirmed by State Senate

The CPUC is happy to announce that the State Senate on March 15, 2012, confirmed the appointment of Mark J. Ferron as Commissioner of the CPUC.

Said Commissioner Ferron, “I thank the members of the Legislature for their confirmation of my appointment to the CPUC. I look forward to continuing my work to help rebuild the public’s sense of trust in its utility service providers and in their government regulators.”

Commissioner Ferron was appointed to the CPUC on March 22, 2011. Prior to his appointment, he was a senior partner at Silicon Valley Social Ventures and a board fellow of the New Teacher Center. From 2001 to 2009 he worked as chief operating officer for the Global Markets Division of Deutsche Bank in London, where he had responsibility for all operational activities globally across fixed income, currency, commodity and equity markets. Before joining Deutsche Bank in 1996, Commissioner Ferron was a vice president at Salomon Brothers from 1994 to 1996, and was a vice president at Bank of America from 1986 to 1994.

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CPUC Proposal Aims to Improve Public Access to Documents

The CPUC has issued a proposal that would improve and streamline the process for the public to access documents received or generated by the CPUC.

The draft Resolution takes a fresh look at outdated rules that impede the CPUC’s ability to share documents with the public it serves, and would allow the CPUC to provide the public with more immediate access to documents. In addition, by updating the CPUC’s regulations governing public access to CPUC records; establishing procedures for more uniform processing of records requests and requests for confidential treatment of documents provided to the CPUC; and improving access to records on the CPUC’s website, the CPUC could substantially streamline public access to records and information. 

Improving Access to Documents in the Draft Resolution
Improvements to the public records process in the Draft Resolution include:

  • Instead of permitting a company to identify documents filed with the CPUC as confidential, in a manner that requires the CPUC to take explicit action to release the documents, the CPUC will treat documents as public information unless a company can show why its documents should be subject to a disclosure exemption.
  • The CPUC will automatically disclose to the public and post on its website records of completed safety related investigations upon the conclusion of the CPUC’s investigation, as opposed to requiring a vote of the CPUC in order to make such documents public.
  • The CPUC will create a comprehensive online index that describes the records maintained by the CPUC and explains whether, and how, they may be located.
  • The CPUC will create an online database of requests received by the CPUC to treat documents as confidential and the CPUC’s decision regarding those requests.
  • The CPUC will create an online safety portal to house safety related records and information. The portal will describe the CPUC’s safety jurisdiction and inspection, investigation, and enforcement activities; and provide access to a wide range of safety related records received or generated by the CPUC.

Comments on the draft Resolution are due April 11, 2012. The draft Resolution is scheduled to come before the CPUC for a vote on May 10, 2012.

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Visit our Consumer Information Center for more assistance. Consumers with utility complaints can call our Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570.

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