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CPUC Works to Protect Consumers Through New Disconnections and Affordability Actions

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Today we opened two new proceedings to examine important consumer protection issues: utility disconnections and the affordability of utility services.

Electricity and gas shut-offs can have serious impacts on people's lives, and have been increasing over time. We voted today to start considering ways to reduce service disconnections in California, through new rules and innovative approaches.

Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves said, "Disconnections impacted 2.5 million Californians last year and criminalize people's inability to pay high bills. This proceeding will develop innovative solutions to reduce disconnections and the devastating impacts they have on households across the state."

In Phase 1 of the proceeding, we will adopt policies, rules, or regulations with a goal of reducing the statewide level of residential gas and electric service disconnections for nonpayment in order to provide rapid relief to residential customers experiencing disconnections and reconnections. In Phase 2, we will take a more holistic and comprehensive approach to the evaluation of residential natural gas and electric disconnections with the goal of determining if the disconnection rate can be more effectively reduced through broader reforms and new approaches beyond those adopted in Phase 1.

We also took action today to develop a common understanding and tools to assess the impacts on affordability of our individual proceedings and utility rate requests.

Our proceeding will develop a framework and principles to identify and define affordability criteria for all utility services under our jurisdiction; and will develop the methodologies, data sources, and processes necessary to comprehensively assess the impacts on affordability of individual CPUC proceedings and utility rate requests.

Said Commissioner Carla J. Peterman, "The scope of this proceeding is purposefully customer-centric, including respondents from the telecommunications, water, electric, and gas sectors in recognition that the average customer often pays for multiple services using one household budget."

Contact our Public Advisor's Office at public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov for information on how to get involved in both these important proceedings!

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