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Commissioner Blog: Keeping the Lights On

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By Commissioner Liane M. Randolph

Yesterday my Commissioner colleagues and I took action in a 5-0 vote to ensure that the state's electric providers secure enough power to keep the lights on for Californians. Such grid reliability is grounded in a complicated but very important energy market program that the CPUC manages, called Resource Adequacy.

A successful Resource Adequacy program ensures that every part of California has instantaneous power to serve their customers every hour of the year. It is invisible to the public when it is functioning as it should, because power flows without curtailment or outages even when the grid is stressed.

But we are facing new challenges to the program. The law requires us to avoid costly backstop procurement, but that has become more frequent in recent years. We must ensure that all load-serving entities procure their share of local resources, but several entities are telling us that they have been unsuccessful at procuring sufficient capacity. There is a narrowing number of gas-fired plants in the state that provide such local reliability, and the plant owners are increasingly able to exercise market power. Customers continue to migrate to community choice aggregators (CCAs) on a default basis and to electricity service providers on an elective basis, but I am not always persuaded that those entities are prepared to meet this statutory reliability obligation. 

Here is how my colleague, CPUC President Michael Picker, put it during his remarks on the dais: "We've seen a number of failures of meeting the Resource Adequacy requirements over time. I'll just point to the fact that last year we issued 11 waivers to small electricity service providers and to CCAs who could not meet the legislative requirement to keep our grid reliable. What happens when that takes place is the Independent System Operator steps in and makes expensive purchases in a backstop arrangement under federal requirements for reliability."

Our decision yesterday takes aim at these issues with new market structures. We set multi-year procurement requirements for all entities that secure electric generation resources for their customers.

This means that all of California's investor-owned utilities, community choice aggregators, and electric service providers to procure 100 percent of the resources they need for local reliability each year for the next two years, and 50 percent of what they need three years from now. Our aim is to encourage investment in longer-term contracts with the resources that already exist, allow space for load-serving entities to invest in new resources that might come online three years from now, and avoid over-procurement in case some of the local areas with tightening generation supply receive new transmission.

It is well known that this decision was controversial, as will be our next steps. Even while I am pleased with today's decision, I remain concerned that this approach is incomplete. It relies on each load-serving entity playing its part in this statewide program, and may not address the reliability deficiencies, market power, and expensive last-minute procurement that we are experiencing today. 

My colleagues on the Commission agreed, and so we also adopted two significant next steps:

First, to increase public understanding of the tightness in the energy market, we adopted a transparency proposal. As Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves pointed out, "Our local reliability comes from gas, and we are going to need to keep using gas." California's remaining gas-fired power plants provide much of this local Resource Adequacy, and we would like the public to understand that all types of load-serving entities - utilities, community choice aggregators, and electricity service providers - need to use these plants to serve their load. At the same time, we encourage development of local renewable resources that can provide local Resource Adequacy, as part of California's transition toward a zero-carbon electric grid. To further everyone's understanding, our Energy Division will prepare public reports about the state of the market: which resources needed for Resource Adequacy are receiving multi-year contracts, the magnitude and pace of development of preferred resources for local capacity, waiver requests for local Resource Adequacy, and deficiencies.

Second, we are pressing parties to develop implementation details for a central procurement mechanism.  Our Energy Division put forward a detailed proposal in 2018, which parties critiqued without supplying alternatives that address statutory obligations or the very real challenges we are facing today. The decision thus directs parties to develop workable implementation solutions for central procurement via a series of workshops over the next six months. Each one is to be facilitated by a different market representative, including the community choice aggregators, investor-owned utilities, and energy service providers.  

My hope is that parties will arrive at a consensus regarding how to implement a central procurement mechanism. If they don't, I intend to issue a decision in the fourth quarter of 2019 that addresses and adopts implementation details for a central buyer structure that will address reliability issues, load migration and market power, as well as meets our greenhouse gas goals, at an affordable price. My fellow Commissioners and I believe it is the responsible thing to do for California.

Commissioner Blog: CPUC Creates Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan to Help Prioritize Equity

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By Commissioners Martha Guzman Aceves and Clifford Rechtschaffen


Today, as the nation debates the ambitious, equity centered proposals included in the Green New Deal, we at the CPUC approved an Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan that will serve as a roadmap to implement the CPUC's vision of advancing equity in its programs and policies.

The Plan lays out nine key goals, with objectives and concrete actions attached to each goal. The goals are:

  1. Consistently integrate equity and access considerations throughout CPUC proceedings and other efforts
  2. Increase investment in clean energy resources to benefit environmental and social justice communities (ESJ communities), especially to improve local air quality and public health
  3. Strive to improve access to high-quality water, communications, and transportation services for ESJ communities
  4. Increase climate resiliency in ESJ communities
  5. Enhance outreach and public participation opportunities for ESJ communities to meaningfully participate in the CPUC's decision-making process and benefit from CPUC programs
  6. Enhance enforcement to ensure safety and consumer protection for ESJ communities
  7. Promote economic and workforce development opportunities in ESJ communities
  8. Improve training and staff development related to environmental and social justice issues within the CPUC's jurisdiction
  9. Monitor the CPUC's environmental and social justice efforts to evaluate how they are achieving their objectives

The Plan identifies ways the CPUC can use its authority to address health and safety, consumer protection, and enforcement across the industries we regulate. The Plan also highlights how the CPUC can engage directly with ESJ communities, build relationships, and gather more information about the issues ESJ communities face and the ways they would like to engage with the CPUC.

The Plan acknowledges the reality that not all Californians are starting from the same place, and that the CPUC's responsibility is to serve Californians in a way that helps address those inequities. While we don't have control over everything, we can make sure that our work and our programs strive to provide everyone with the consumer protections and other benefits they deserve from the CPUC.

Advancing environmental justice has long been a goal for California; in 2000, California adopted legislation that required environmental justice to be part of the state's mission. Since that time, California has adopted numerous statues that direct the CPUC to incorporate environmental and social justice objectives into its work.

In addition to coinciding with the broader debate around the Green New Deal, our action today takes place in the month of the 25th anniversary of former President Bill Clinton's Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations."

We hope the public will continue to engage with us and provide input as we work through the Plan's actions, next steps, and timelines.  

You can read more about our work for disadvantaged communities on our website.

Commissioner Blog: Ensuring Disability Access to TNCs

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By Commissioner Liane M. Randolph

I am pleased to report that today we initiated efforts to ensure access for the disability community to the app-based passenger service offered by Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).  

My fellow Commissioners and I voted to open a proceeding to implement Senate Bill 1376 (Hill, 2018), in which we will set rules for the TNCs to provide the same level of passenger service to all Californians, including those who need Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs). These vehicles must be able to accommodate non-folding wheelchairs. Examples of equipment that a WAV would need to carry are a motorized wheelchair, a mobility scooter, or another mobility device. 

I am excited to continue working on this issue, as I will be the Commissioner assigned to this proceeding.  We have held two implementation workshops already-Senator Hill attended the first in December 2018, and we held the second in Sacramento on Friday, February 15, 2019. 

Among many other implementation details we need to decide, we will need to define specific geographic areas where WAVs will be made available as an on-demand service.  We are still taking comments from stakeholders on this issue, but my present thinking is that while we should work toward a goal of robust WAV-accessible passenger service everywhere, that will not be the immediate goal of this program.  TNC service is not available everywhere in California right now, and therefore WAV service provided as an app-enabled passenger service will likely not be available everywhere immediately.  I also think program success is more likely if we roll the service out in a well-planned way and learn as we go.

Our new proceeding will look into various options on how best to provide WAV service, including receiving proposals from local providers who are already experienced in this part of the passenger transportation market.  The program will be funded through a per-ride surcharge of 5 cents, which the TNCs will begin charging in July 2019 and which we will place in an Access Fund.  Proposals from providers will start arriving in 2020, by which time we'll have funds in the Access Fund and a set of criteria by which we will evaluate the proposals.  We're also going to use this proceeding to address other accessibility issues related to app-based TNC service that have been raised by disability advocates.  

The proceeding will move quickly and will demand a lot of work in the next year, but it is for the extremely worthy goal of offering people with disabilities equal access to the passenger service TNCs have brought to California.  

Invitation for Public Comment on Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee Candidates

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Invitation for Public Comment on
Dr. Robert Budnitz, Dr. William Kastenberg, and Dr. Michael Quinn

As Candidates for Appointment to the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee

Term: July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022

On December 19, 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced it was seeking applications from qualified persons to become nominees to fill a vacancy on the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee (Committee) for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2019.

The Committee consists of three members, one each appointed by the Governor, the California Attorney General, and the Chair of the California Energy Commission (CEC).  The Committee assesses the safety of the operations of Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and has authority to review quarterly reports and conduct on-site inspections.  The Committee reports its observations and recommendations to PG&E annually; the Committee then transmits its report, along with PG&E's response, to the Governor, the California Attorney General, the CEC, and the CPUC. 

According to the procedures adopted by the CPUC in Decision 07-01-028, the President of the CPUC selects no more than three qualified candidates responding to the request for applications, plus the incumbent member whose term is expiring, if the incumbent consents to reappointment.  The CPUC will issue a resolution ratifying the President's selection of candidates for appointment. The California Attorney General shall appoint the Committee member for the term beginning on July 1, 2019 from the list of candidates selected by the President of the CPUC and ratified by the Commission.

Applications were received from Dr. William Kastenberg, and Dr. Michael Quinn in response to the CPUC's December 19, 2018 announcement.  The incumbent member whose term is expiring, Dr. Robert Budnitz, informed the CPUC's Energy Division that he consents to reappointment for a new three-year term beginning July 1, 2019.  Their qualifications are summarized below.

The CPUC welcomes public comments on the qualifications of Dr. Budnitz, Dr. Kastenberg, and Dr. Quinn.  Please e-mail comments to david.zizmor@cpuc.ca.gov or mail them to:

David Zizmor

Energy Division, California Public Utilities Commission

505 Van Ness Ave.

San Francisco, CA 94102


Comments must be received (e-mail) or postmarked by March 19, 2019.

Dr. Robert Budnitz (Incumbent)

Dr. Budnitz is currently an incumbent member of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee (DCISC), serving a term that began July 1, 2016 and will end June 30, 2019, as appointed by then Attorney General Kamala Harris.  Dr. Budnitz was originally appointed to the DCISC by then Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2007 for a term that ran through mid-2010.

In addition to his role on the DCISC, Dr. Budnitz recently retired from the scientific staff at the University of California's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where he worked on nuclear power safety and security.  He currently works as a consultant, advising on reactor safety both domestically and internationally.  He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.  His current research is largely in the area of the seismic safety of nuclear reactors, most of which is supported by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  From 2002 to 2007, he was employed at UC's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; during part of that period he also worked on a two-year special assignment in Washington D.C. assisting the Director of DOE's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management to develop a new Science & Technology Program for the Yucca Mountain Project.  Dr. Budnitz additionally serves on advisory committees for organizations such as the American Nuclear Society and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

From 1967 to 1978, Dr. Budnitz was on the staff of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, serving in 1975-1978 as Associate Director and Head of LBNL's Energy & Environment Division.  The programs under his direction included energy-efficiency, deep-geologic radioactive waste disposal, solar energy, geothermal energy, fusion energy, transportation technology, chemical-engineering for alternate fuels, environmental instrumentation, air-pollution phenomena, and energy policy analysis.

From 1978 to 1980, he was a senior officer on the staff of the NRC.  In 1978-1979, he was the Deputy Director, NRC Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, and in 1979-1980 he became the Director of that same Office.  In this two-year period, Dr. Budnitz was responsible for formulating and guiding the large NRC research program that constituted over $200 million/year at the time.  His responsibilities included assuring that all major areas of reactor-safety research, waste-management research, and fuel-cycle-safety research necessary to serve the mission of the NRC were adequately supported.  Additionally, following the Three Mile Island reactor accident, Dr. Budnitz served the last 7 months of 1979 as the "technical coordinator" of the important NRC internal inquiry examining the accident, known as the "Special Inquiry Group,"

After leaving the NRC in 1980 and until late 2002, Dr. Budnitz worked as a private consultant on reactor safety, radioactive waste, and related subjects, as president of Future Resources Associates, Inc., a small firm he founded in Berkeley in 1981.  His clients included both industrial and governmental organizations.  A majority of his research support in the post-1981 period came from governmental sources, including NRC, DOE, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as international and intergovernmental organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

After the serious Japanese reactor accident at Fukushima in March 2011, caused by an earthquake-triggered tsunami that flooded the site and damaged 4 of the 6 reactors on-site, the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the President's Science Adviser appointed a special "science panel" to advise them about the best way early-on to interpret the incomplete technical information that was available from Japan, and about how best the U.S. might assist the Japanese in responding.  Dr. Budnitz served on that high-level panel for the duration of 2011. 

Some of Dr. Budnitz's other assignments include serving as chairman of an OECD/NEA international Specialist Meeting that evaluated the adequacy of our current understanding of possible terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, a few months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 9/11/2001; he chaired the "Senior Seismic Hazards Analysis Committee" supported by DOE, NRC, and the Electric Power Research Institute, that developed an advanced probabilistic seismic hazard methodology, published in 1997, which has now become the commonly accepted way to do this type of hazard analysis and was used recently in the most advanced studies of the seismic hazards at the Diablo Canyon site; he chaired both the NRC's "Expert Panel on Seismic Margins" that developed the widely-used seismic-margin methodology for assessing the seismic capabilities of existing nuclear facilities, and the DOE's "Senior External Events Review Group" that advised DOE on seismic and wind design criteria for their proposed new production reactor design; and he chaired the "Committee on Remediation of Buried and Tank Wastes" for several years for the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences under the Board on Radioactive Waste Management.  Dr. Budnitz has also worked extensively in the fields of nuclear-reactor safety, high-level-waste safety, and nuclear-facility safety assessment, including probabilistic risk assessment. 

Dr. Budnitz earned a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University in 1968, an M.A. in physics from Harvard in 1962, and a B.A. in physics from Yale University in 1961.

Dr. William E. Kastenberg


On December 31, 2007, Dr. Kastenberg retired as the Daniel M. Tellep Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, from the University of California, Berkeley.  Professor Kastenberg was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 for his contributions to nuclear reactor safety and risk.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1990 and of the American Nuclear Society in 1978.  Kastenberg has won distinguished teaching awards from the American Nuclear Society (Arthur Holly Compton Award in 2000), the American Society for Engineering Education (1973), and the Engineering Graduate Students' Association at UCLA, (1971).

Dr. Kastenberg was appointed as a part-time Administrative Law Judge-Technical on the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2007-present).  He has been involved in the adjudication process regarding safety and environmental issues associated with plant license extension for two nuclear power plants, and one proposed new nuclear power plant.

Dr. Kastenberg was appointed by the Governor of California to the Independent Safety Committee for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, and served for 10 years (1990-2000).  He was the first appointee and the first chairman of the Committee.  During that time, he became intimately knowledgeable regarding all aspects of Diablo Canyon plant design, operations, operator training, licensing and safety.  He also instituted many of the Committee's processes and procedures that are still in effect today.

UC President Atkinson appointed Dr. Kastenberg chairman of the Scientific Panel of the Advisory Group on Low-Level Radioactive Waste, reporting to Governor Davis of California (1999-2000).  The panel held public meetings and worked very closely with public interest groups on social and technical issues.  Kastenberg was also a founder and the Director of the UC Berkeley, Center for Nuclear and Toxic Waste Management.  The Center focused on both institutional and technical issues and included graduate students and faculty from Engineering, Public Policy, Political Science and Energy and Resources at UCB. 

Dr. Kastenberg has also been a member of the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Facility Safety, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE, 1988-1991) and served as the Sub-committee Chairman for safety and risk analysis. In this capacity, he was involved in reviewing the safety of DOE's research and production reactors, and other nuclear process facilities. He has served on external safety review committees for Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory.  Kastenberg chaired the Peer Review Committee for the Draft Reactor Risk Reference Document, NUREG-1150 (1987-1988).  The committee reviewed the results of advancements in risk assessment methodology with application to five U.S. Nuclear Power Plants.  Subsequently, the committees' recommendations were incorporated into the final draft and became the basis for risk informed regulation.

Dr. Kastenberg spent a sabbatical year as a Senior Fellow with the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, USNRC (1979-1980) working on TMI "Lessons Learned," and the development of Quantitative Safety Goals.  Many of the recommendations based on his work were implemented at a number of nuclear power plants in the United States.  He spent a sabbatical year at the Nuclear Research Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, (1972-1973), where he worked on safety issues related to a liquid metal cooled fast breeder reactor (SNR-300).

Dr. Kastenberg has developed and taught graduate courses on reactor safety and risk for over 30 years.  He was among the first faculty nationwide to develop academic courses on Fast Reactor Safety (1970s), Light Water Reactor Safety (1980s) and Nuclear Reactor Risk Analysis (1990s).  In addition to teaching basic theories of safety and risk, Kastenberg used the PSARs and FSARs of existing nuclear power plants (including Diablo Canyon) as a basis for lectures, homework and term-projects.  Former graduate students that have completed their research under his direction have taken leadership positions in academia, government, and industry.

Professor Kastenberg has authored or co-authored over 150 published papers in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings related to nuclear reactor safety, nuclear reactor risk assessment, risk management, public health and environmental risk assessment, and multi-stakeholder decision making.

Dr. Michael Quinn

Michael Quinn has invested over 40 years into the public health and safety of the nuclear industry, entailing 25 years in power block operations at a nuclear power station, and during the past 18 years as an executive operations consultant to the nuclear industry in the U.S. and Canada. 

Dr. Quinn's expertise resides in Nuclear Operations; Significant Operational Event Assessments; Nuclear Safety; Nuclear Inspection and Evaluation, and Corrective Action Program/ Human Performance/ Safety Culture assessments.

Throughout his nuclear power career Michael has operated, consulted, and lived to the tenets of Compliance, Integrity, Transparency, and Competency in his nuclear power operation endeavors. 

Nuclear Operations Experience within the Power Block

While in the power block of a nuclear unit with a large nuclear utility from 1975 to 1999, Michael earned a U.S. NRC Senior Reactor Operator License on a Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor unit, and held leadership positions that included Director of Nuclear Station Services; Nuclear Station Duty Officer;  Chair-Nuclear Plant Operations Review Committee [50.59 Reviews]; Corrective Action Review Board (CARB) Chair; Director of Nuclear Station Emergency Operations; Refueling and Maintenance Outage Shift Manager; Manager of Chemistry and Radiochemistry;  and Project Manager, reporting to the President, on a three-unit, four-year Nuclear Station Recovery Team.

During this time frame Michael was a member of the senior station leadership team at Haddam Neck Station, a nuclear unit that consistently performed at U.S. NRC SALP-1 and INPO 1 performance levels (presently termed U.S. NRC Column 1 and INPO 1 respectively).

Current Nuclear Operations Experience Consulting to Nuclear Regulators, Licensees, and Suppliers  

Since 1999 Michael has been engaged by executives in the safe operation of nuclear units, as well as in the new build, refurbishment and decommissioning sectors of the nuclear industry in the U.S. and Canada.  On the regulatory side, during the 2006-2019 period he has been contracted to train U.S. NRC resident inspectors and regional office technical staff on evaluating significant nuclear licensee operational events and processes, with a focus on nuclear safety and the three cross-cutting areas of Human Performance, Problem Identification and Resolution (PI&R), and Safety Culture.

During the past 18-plus years, Michael has been, and is presently: conducting nuclear station and nuclear licensee program and operational assessments of nuclear organizations; leading/performing root cause evaluations on significant nuclear events; and leading recovery project management for nuclear licensees and suppliers. His primary focus is on nuclear safety and the three cross-cutting areas.

In addition, Dr. Quinn continues to assess and to remediate licensee and supplier organizational and corrective action programs; provides PI&R, Human Performance, and Safety Culture consulting, coaching and training; and provides related consulting services to several nuclear industry sectors.  These sectors include the commercial nuclear power industry in the U.S. and Canada; U.S. Government (e.g., U.S. NRC, U.S. Department of Energy); and nuclear supplier organizations (large nuclear steam supply system providers (e.g., Westinghouse and Mitsubishi) as well as smaller nuclear suppliers to the new builds in South Carolina and Georgia).

Selected nuclear industry assessments that Dr. Quinn has led or consulted to include:

  • Significant safety issues in a high-level, trans-uranic nuclear waste underground facility;
  • Consequential design phase issues on the 'new build' nuclear project for North Anna 3;
  • Significant safety issues on the disassembly and reassembly of components on two CANDU reactors under refurbishment;
  • Loss of Offsite Power to the Operations power block of a 1200 MWe nuclear unit;
  • Nuclear fuel handling project upgrade failures at five separate nuclear sites involving distinctly different failures during a four-month refueling season;
  • A nuclear unit cooling tower failure;
  • Five-month reliability assessment of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Station by a large team;
  • Collective Significance assessment on six safety systems' performance challenges at a PWR;
  • Collective Significance on Spent Fuel Transfer issues at a decommissioning station;
  • Investigating safety-related components that did not meet acceptance criteria at each of the four 'new build' nuclear units in SC and GA;
  • Significant transuranic (alpha) ingestion/ uptake by over 500 craft workers at a nuclear power station;
  • Led an assessment to determine  factors contributing to 'engineering rigor' challenges in a large engineering organization responsible for nuclear wastewater management at a US DOE site.

From a major nuclear industry 'campaign' perspective, Dr. Quinn has been/is engaged in many industry issue campaigns and challenges that include/have included:

  • Safety culture challenges to nuclear operations;
  • Post-accident response and subsequent upgrades (0737);
  • Containment sump screen upgrade (GSI-191);
  • Groundwater tritium;
  • Safeguards at operating and decommissioning nuclear units
  • Nuclear fuel handling, storage, cask operations;
  • Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSI);
  • Radioactive effluents and radioactive waste treatment
  • Radiological/ trans-uranic uptakes to over 500 workers;
  • Corrective action program challenges, notably 10CFR50 Appendix B Criteria;
  • Cumulative Impact/ Nuclear Promise Efficiency Bulletins;
  • And very importantly, the impact that a 'final shutdown decision' (as Diablo Canyon is facing in 5-6 years) has had on nuclear station staffs' performance while attempting to maintain focus on operational excellence.  Example challenges included maintaining operations 'within the envelope,' key staff retention, increase in event frequency and severity, increased employee concerns, and safety culture declines, among others.

Starting in 2006 and continuing into 2019, Dr. Quinn has trained U.S. NRC inspectors and technical staff in a concentrated three-day course to evaluate significant nuclear licensee events and incident reports, training over 600 U.S. NRC inspectors and technical staff during over 40 deliveries. He is contracted through 2022. In 2017, Dr. Quinn was requested to present this training to the first cohort from the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority, and in later 2017, he was requested to present the training to the first cohort of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. 

Dr. Quinn is the only individual who has taught nuclear event causal analysis evaluation to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. 

Over the past 16 years Dr. Quinn has presented more than 20 workshops and seminars on current nuclear industry issues and challenges at nuclear industry conferences and forums in the US and Canada, as well as for IAEA. He has also taught 23 Management Systems, Strategy, OB/OD, and Management courses at two Connecticut universities.



  • U.S. NRC Senior Reactor Operator License #10071 on a Westinghouse PWR (Diablo Canyon is a Westinghouse PWR NSSS design)
  • Certified Root Cause Investigator (Nuclear Safety Review Concepts Event Evaluation and PII)
  • Certified Root Cause Trainer
  • Certified Radiation Safety Officer

Michael earned a Doctorate in Organizational Management Systems (organizational system dynamics) and Executive Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of New Haven.  He previously earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Charter Oak College.

Michael's collective past and current nuclear power experience is congruent with the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee's (DCISC) mission and requirements.  He can bring current and comprehensive nuclear operations assessment experience to complement the depth and breadth of the DCISC team.  

Beyond his nuclear operations experience and academic background, Dr. Quinn has a demonstrated history of articulating his assessments in an objective, empirically-based, and plain language manner to the full spectrum of stakeholders (e.g., utility commissions, station staff, utility staff, the public, state and federal regulators, interest groups, and the boardroom, among others). 

In summary, Michael offers current and comprehensive nuclear industry analysis and assessment experience that support consideration of his candidacy for a role on the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee.  

On a non-nuclear note, Michael is a long-time blood donor (since 1973), and presently serves as a member of the Connecticut Community Care Board of Directors, a non-profit health care service provider for over 9,000 individuals in need.  

LinkedIn:       https://www.linkedin.com/in/quinnmd/  

Director Blog: Assessing Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans

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Below is a blog from Elizaveta Malashenko, the CPUC's Deputy Executive Director of Safety and Enforcement

On Feb. 13, 2019, regulators, utility representatives, and stakeholders gathered for a full-day workshop for an initial examination of Wildfire Mitigation Plans (WMPs) submitted the prior week by investor-owned utilities and transmission owners as directed by Senate Bill (SB) 901 (Dodd, 2018). The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) now has 90 days to review and adopt the plans, with the goal of having WMPs in place prior to the 2019 fire season when weather conditions pose the greatest threat.

At the WMP workshop, each utility outlined its plan and answered questions from CPUC Commissioners and staff, CAL FIRE experts, a diverse group of stakeholders, and the public.  As mandated by SB 901, the utility WMPs encompass all major aspects of utility operations that have an impact on wildfire ignition risk, including how utility overhead facilities are constructed, inspected, maintained, and operated, and how utilities monitor and respond in real-time to localized weather conditions and the threat of fire ignition from utility facilities/infrastructure.

California's electric grid spans the entire state across diverse terrain and ecology.  Wildfire risk drivers and specific challenges are as varied for each utility as their unique service territories. For this reason, WMPs allow for flexibility for each utility to develop a plan that is responsive to the specifics of their service territory, infrastructure, and risk profiles. However, there are some common elements that emerge across the utility WMPs: (a) expansion of situational awareness and weather monitoring, (b) investment in grid hardening, such as investment in coated conductors, and (c) expansion of vegetation management practices.  The Feb. 13 workshop was a good opportunity to get a feel for various utility approaches and for some cross-pollination of ideas. 

Around 300 people attended in person and by web conference, many of whom asked questions and suggested agenda items for the next set of workshops on February 26-27, 2019, which will delve into WMPs in greater detail. The CPUC, utilities, and parties to the WMP proceeding will have to work fast, hard, and smart for the WMP's to be adopted within 90 days to secure the benefits of the enhanced mitigation measures. 

It is also important to be realistic about what can be accomplished in the first round of WMPs, which will now be an annual process for California utilities. The WMPs draw on best practices from California and around the world, yet if there is one thing that WMPs show, is that there is no single strategy or mitigation measure that can quickly eliminate the risk of fire ignition from utility infrastructure. The new WMP approach is a paradigm shift not just for how the state approaches the utility role in wildfire risk management, but electric safety in general. Until introduction of the WMP model, the main safety regulation for electric and telecommunication facilities has been General Order (GO) 95, which has been in existence since 1941 and has undergone many revisions to address wildfire ignition risks, including incorporation of CPUC Wildfire Threat Maps and introduction of the strictest vegetation clearance requirements for distribution infrastructure in the U.S. Yet, the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons demonstrated the need for an adaptable regulatory scheme able to respond to the rapidly evolving conditions and increased risks of devastating wildfires. The annual WMP approach provides an opportunity to implement new ideas faster, however, it will be equally important to establish effective performance measures to assess how these ideas and strategies are performing in the real world, so collectively we can continually improve California's wildfire mitigation efforts.

The CPUC process relies on expertise and opinions of outside parties to evaluate utility proposals and policy options. In our review of WMPs, we depend on our partnership with CAL FIRE and thank their experts for their input on utility plans. It is essential that we get engagement and support from stakeholders as the CPUC evaluates the WMPs submitted by utilities and encourage participation in our process, which we are particularly focused on making more accessible and flexible. In addition to work being done in formal proceedings, the CPUC is also building a network of thought leaders in addressing the wildfire challenge in California and beyond.

More information about SB 901 and upcoming WMP workshops, please see our website.

You can learn more about California's first Wildfire Technology Innovation Summit on the Summit's website.

CPUC To Receive Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans Feb. 6

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On Feb. 6, 2019, we will add to our website the wildfire mitigation plans that the state's investor-owned utilities are required to submit by 5 p.m. The plans will be posted as they are received and processed.

Senate Bill 901 requires electric utilities to prepare and submit wildfire mitigation plans that describe the utilities' plans to prevent, combat, and respond to wildfires affecting their service territories. The CPUC will evaluate the plans through a proceeding opened on Oct. 25, 2018, which includes workshops and comment opportunities. 

A workshop is set for Feb. 13, 2019, at which time the wildfire mitigation plans will be discussed. Technical workshops on the plans will take place on Feb. 26 and 27, 2019. Please see "Events" on our website for more information.  

The utilities that are required to participate in this proceeding are Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, Liberty Utilities/CalPeco Electric, Bear Valley Electric Service, and Pacific Power.

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