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California Public Utilities Commission transparency bill dies

May 21, 2012
  • Homes burn after the Sept. 9, 2010, gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif. The fireball created by a ruptured PG&E pipeline killed eight people and destroyed 35 homes.
Homes burn after the Sept. 9, 2010, gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif. The… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO -- The state Senate has rejected a bill that would have required utility regulators to make public all investigation orders, accident reports and related documents.

The bill, SB 1000, by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) fell two votes shy of the minimum of 21 needed for passage.

The bill was prompted by the Sept. 9, 2010, deadly explosion of a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. gas pipeline in San Bruno, south of San Francisco. The blast killed eight people and leveled 35 homes.

"I am deeply disappointed that the Senate failed to pass this much-needed open-government bill," said Yee. "Californians have a fundamental right to know how their government is working, and SB 1000 would ensure that members of the public have access to safety-related documents that affect their families.

The bill was supported by newspaper publishers, the California Public Utilities Commission, the Teamsters union and consumer advocates.

Investor-owned utilities including PG&E, Southern California Edison Co., San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Gas Co. opposed it, as did AT&T, cable companies and utilities worker unions.

Southern California Edison called the measure well intentioned but flawed because it could allow for the release of incorrect and incomplete information. The possibility of erroneous media reports and lawsuits could undermine "full and candid dialogue between a utility and the CPUC at a critical early stage of a serious accident," Edison said.


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