Welcome to the May 2012 edition of the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you'll find information on the CPUC's support of small businesses, Earth Day celebrations, solar water heating, and more!


CPUC Lends Support to Small Businesses in Irvine With Expo

On April 12th, the CPUC sponsored a Small Business Expo in Irvine, Calif., to bring together small businesses with investor-owned utilities and other organizations to foster relationship building and potential contract opportunities.  Kicking off the event were speeches by Priscilla Lopez, Director of California Small Business Development Centers, and CPUC Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval.

Approximately 500 matchmaking sessions were conducted by state agencies (CPUC, Department of General Services, CalTrans), local agencies (Orange County, Orange County Transportation Authority, Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority), and utilities.

The expo area featured 37 exhibitors including small business resource providers and federal, state, and local agencies such as the Small Business Administration, CalVet, Supplier Clearinghouse, UC Irvine, Port of Long Beach, Irvine Chamber of Commerce, Employment Development Department, Women Business Enterprise National Council, City of Irvine, Business Entrepreneurship Center, and others.

In addition to matchmaking and the expo area, the event featured workshops on connecting small businesses with state and utility contracts, how small business can access financing, and small business suppliers go green.

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CPUC Celebrates Earth Day

The CPUC marked Earth Day, April 22nd, by participating in the Los Altos Hills Annual Earth Day Celebration. The CPUC hosted an informational booth, joining approximately 20 other exhibitors representing environmental organizations, civic/service/school groups, and green businesses.

The CPUC presented information on the California Solar Initiative, power outage preparedness, and other topics.

Also in celebration of Earth Day, the CPUC on April 21st participated in the Foster City Earth Day Fair.  Sponsored by the City of Foster City and its Environmental Sustainability Task Force, this third annual event focused on the theme of “Clean Air, Clean Transportation” and encouraged residents to walk, bicycle, take public transit, or carpool with families and friends to the day’s festivities.

The CPUC joined approximately 50 exhibitors representing solar companies, solar vendors, civic and service organizations, local green businesses and vendors, and the Foster City Chamber of Commerce. The CPUC provided information on the California Solar Initiative, rates, Smart Meters, and more.

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Meet the Next Step in Your Green Routine: Solar Water Heating

For many Californians, taking action to help the environment is already a way of life, from recycling and using low-flow showerheads to weather-proofing their home and driving a low-emission vehicle.  Now the California Solar Initiative (CSI) - Thermal Program is encouraging all Californians to take the next step in their green routine with solar water heating. 

Customers of San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company who heat their water with electricity, natural gas, or propane can be eligible for rebates under the program, which offers cash rebates of up to $1,875 for solar water heating systems installed on single-family homes and up to $500,000 for systems installed on commercial or multi-family buildings. Increased rebate levels are available for qualified income-eligible single-family and multi-family housing natural gas customers.

Typical solar water heating systems reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water by working as a companion system with a current water heater. They capture the warmth of the sun and transfer the heat to water. The solar-heated water is held in a storage tank until it is needed to replace the hot water pulled from the conventional water heater for use in sinks, showers, baths, dishwashers and washing machines.

The California Solar Initiative (CSI)-Thermal Program is administered by regional Program Administrators under the auspices of the CPUC.

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CPUC Affirms Citation and Fine Against PG&E

The CPUC has reaffirmed its staff directive that PG&E pay a citation of $16.76 million for the utility’s failure to conduct gas safety tests in Contra Costa County, and, separately, fined PG&E $3 million for failure to comply with a CPUC pipeline records search. The fines are payable to the state’s General Fund from PG&E shareholders.

The $16.76 million citation was issued by the CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) on January 27, 2012. CPSD issued the citation for PG&E’s failure to conduct gas leak detection surveys in seven cities in Contra Costa County. The missed surveys involved some facilities installed as far back as 1993. PG&E appealed the citation on February 1, 2012. The appeal was heard by a CPUC Administrative Law Judge, who denied the appeal and directed PG&E to pay the citation. In April, the CPUC’s Commissioners adopted the Judge’s decision denying the appeal and ordering PG&E to pay the citation.

Separately, the CPUC fined PG&E $3 million for failure to comply with a CPUC pipeline records search directive. On March 24, 2011, the CPUC approved an Order to Show Cause directing PG&E to appear at a hearing to show why it should not be found in contempt and fined. The Order to Show Cause set a hearing for PG&E to present evidence. The CPUC’s Commissioners approved the $3 million fine in April. The CPUC’s penalty consideration case into whether PG&E’s gas transmission pipeline recordkeeping violated the law, and if so whether deficient recordkeeping caused or contributed to a pipeline rupture in San Bruno, Calif., on Sept. 9, 2010, is a separate matter and is ongoing.

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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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