Legislation might put an end to the so-called revolving door of employees between the California Public Utilities Commission and the utilities it regulates, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said Tuesday.
Yee introduced a bill Tuesday that would forbid commissioners or executives from working at or serving as an agent of a regulated utility for two years after leaving the commission. The bill also would prohibit utility employees or agents from serving or working for the commission for two years after leaving the utility.
“It’s time to stop the fox from guarding the hen house,” Yee said in a news release.
Last year, The SF Examiner traced the connections between the commission and PG&E in light of the 2010 gas line explosion and fire that killed eight people in San Bruno. After an investigation, federal officials chastised both the utility and the regulator.
Several high-level present and former commission employees also have worked at regulated utilities, including general counsel Frank Lindh, who was formerly a PG&E lawyer.
Commission President Michael Peevey was president of energy company NewEnergy Inc. and once led Southern California Edison.
Yee’s bill is not the only one on Sacramento’s docket this year that targets the commission.
State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced legislation earlier this month that would force the commission to tie utilities’ profits to their safety records. Hill also sponsored a bill that would force the commission to adopt pipeline safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board or issue a written explanation if it decides not to do so.
Another of Yee’s bills would subject the commission to California’s Public Records Act, which would stop the commission from keeping documents secret.
“If the San Bruno disaster has taught us anything, it is that we need to be vigilant in ensuring utility companies are not endangering our communities,” Yee said.
A spokesman for PG&E did not respond to a request for comment by press time. A commission spokesman said the agency was still reviewing the bill.