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Commissioner Blog: Increasing Engagement with the Low Income Oversight Board

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By Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen

For more than 15 years the Low Income Oversight Board (LIOB), established by the Legislature to make sure the CPUC is engaging with low income electric, gas, and water customers in our state, has been advising the CPUC on how to assist these ratepayers with paying their bills and maintaining vital utility service.

The Board, which meets four times a year in various locations around the state, consists of 11 members, including utility representatives, public and private weatherization contractors, and a CPUC Commissioner, a spot I now fill.

Recently, we realized that the Board could do more to connect more fully with low income Californians, especially in our meetings outside Sacramento or the Bay Area.  So, this summer, the LIOB launched an extensive community engagement effort to get more local, community based organizations, and non-profits to attend our meetings and engage with us.

Working with staff at the CPUC and utility representatives, we sent surveys on community engagement to dozens of organizations. We heard back from about 90 groups and we were briefed on the survey results at our September 2018 board meeting in Rialto.

Many of the recommendations dealt with logistical issues, such as developing a more extensive email contact list for interested parties to follow the work of the LIOB without fully subscribing to CPUC proceedings.  Other suggestions included putting topics of local interest on the LIOB agenda, having presentations to the Board on local issues, adding more time and agenda items that include public discussion, providing more accessible regulatory updates, and holding meetings outside of normal business hours to accommodate working families.

In the months ahead, the LIOB will work to incorporate these and other related ideas into our regular meetings. As the Commissioner serving on the LIOB, I see this community outreach effort as consistent with broader efforts underway at the CPUC to make sure our proceedings are more accessible to all members of the public. These ongoing efforts include a pilot program to increase community engagement with CPUC Public Participation Hearings on specific proceedings, and additional targeted outreach tools being used by our News and Outreach Office staff.

We are currently looking for a new public member of the LIOB who has expertise in the low income community. The selected candidate would serve a two-year term beginning in mid- to late-October. Candidates should submit a biography or résumé (no longer than one page), a statement of interest, and a list of three references no later than October 12, 2018, to my Chief of Staff, Sean Simon at sean.simon@cpuc.ca.gov.


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