CPUC History & Organizational Structure

In 1911, the CPUC was established by Constitutional Amendment as the Railroad Commission. In 1912, the Legislature passed the Public Utilities Act, expanding the Commission's regulatory authority to include natural gas, electric, telephone, and water companies as well as railroads and marine transportation companies. In 1946, the Commission was renamed the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Governor appoints the five Commissioners, who must be confirmed by the Senate, for six year staggered terms. The Governor appoints one of the five to serve as CPUC President. The CPUC employs economists, engineers, administrative law judges, accountants, lawyers, and safety and transportation specialists. The Public Advocates Office is an independent organization within the CPUC that advocates solely on behalf of utility ratepayers.

The Administrative Law Judges process formal filings, facilitate alternative dispute resolution, conduct hearings, develop an adequate administrative record, prepare timely proposals for Commission consideration, and prepare and coordinate Commission meeting agendas.

The ALJ Division administers the Commission's Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.

Administrative Services provides finance, facilities, contracts, and other administrative functions to the entire CPUC. 

The Communications Division assists the CPUC in developing and implementing policies to promote competition in all telecommunications markets and to address regulatory changes required by state and federal legislation.

The Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division (CPED) supports Commission activities in passenger transportation, energy, and communications industries. CPED licenses privately-owned passenger transportation carriers such as rideshares (Uber, Lyft), limousines, tour buses, airport shuttles and ferries; enforces citation programs against utilities and service providers; establishes and ensures compliance with rules and regulations for utility companies and transportation carriers; and investigates allegations of carrier misconduct and utility waste, fraud, and abuse. CPED also conducts field operations with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify illegal and noncompliant transportation carriers. 

The Energy Division assists Commission activities in the electricity, natural gas, steam, and petroleum pipeline industries.

Our Executive Office ensures that procedural matters are handled in a timely manner and is also responsible for efficient internal operations.

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The News and Outreach Office assists customers with utility complaints and provides information and assistance to the media, local governments and community organizations, the public, and other stakeholders about the CPUC's many pioneering and innovative programs, policies, and proceedings.

The News & Outreach Office encompasses four offices: News Office; Public Advisor's Office; Business and Community Outreach Office; and Consumer Affairs Branch (CAB)

The Office of Governmental Affairs (OGA) represents the CPUC before the State Legislature and Executive Branch and oversees representation of the CPUC and State of California before the United States Congress and federal agencies.

The Office of Internal Audit Services (IAS) provides independent, objective assurance and advisory services designed to add value and improve the CPUC's operations, accountability, and transparency. The Chief Internal Auditor reports to the Commissioners, through the Audit Committee, and under general direction of the President. IAS operates under the internal audit charter approved by the Audit Committee on June 27, 2019. 

The Public Advocates Office is an independent organization within the CPUC that advocates solely on behalf of utility ratepayers.

Please visit the Public Advocates Office at www.publicadvocates.cpuc.ca.gov.

The Rail Safety Division (RSD) has safety oversight of railroads, rail transit systems, and highway/rail crossings.

The Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) has safety oversight of electric and communications facilities, natural gas and propane gas systems. SED advocates for public safety through incident investigations and audits, development of proposed new safety rules, and taking enforcement actions to prevent violations of natural gas, electric, and telecommunications General Orders and statutory requirements. SED coordinates with California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and CALFIRE during wildfires, Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) events and other emergencies. The Division also provides safety alerts and awareness to Commissioners and makes recommendations in CPUC safety rulemakings and investigation cases. SED has the authority to issue citations with penalties against utility operators for violations of public utility safety codes and requirements

The Safety Policy Division (SPD) provides advisory support to the CPUC on matters of utility safety policies. Safety is a high priority and SPD’s advice is used to enhance the CPUC’s policymaking capabilities. SPD’s focus includes safety-related policy development, analysis, and implementation of regulations by the CPUC affecting electric, gas, telecommunications, water, and transportation utilities. 

The Utility Audits, Risk and Compliance Division (UARCD) encompasses two branches: Utility Audits Branch (UAB) and Risk and Compliance Branch (RCB). The UAB performs audits on regulated utilities to ensure utilities implement ratepayer-funded programs in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and CPUC directives. The RCB manages the enterprise risk system by identifying, measuring, reporting, and monitoring risk that affect CPUC’s objectives.

The Water Division (WD) supports the Commission by investigating water and sewer system service quality issues and analyzing and processing utility rate change requests. 

The Wildfire Safety Division (WSD)’s primary directive is to evaluate and approve or deny electrical corporations’ Wildfire Mitigation Plans in accordance with Public Utilities Code Section 8386 et. seq in order to ensure that the electrical utilities are taking effective actions to reduce utility-related wildfire risk. In addition, the Wildfire Safety Division will actively audit and evaluate IOU compliance with Wildfire Mitigation Plans, promptly addressing faults, including Public Safety Power Shutoff protocols, and is responsible for issuing safety certifications to the electrical corporations if they have satisfied several requirements. The Wildfire Safety Division receives and incorporates guidance from the Wildfire Safety Advisory Board.

As of July 1, 2021 the Wildfire Safety Division has transitioned to the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety, a new department under the California Natural Resources Agency. Please find them at their new website energysafety.ca.gov.