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Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers announce major reorganization of California's energy regulating agency

San Onofre nuclear power plant (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
San Onofre nuclear power plant (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers announced a broad overhaul of the state’s main energy regulator on Monday, a response to a scandal involving the agency’s decommissioning of a Southern California nuclear facility and criticism in its handling of new technologies including Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies.

The broad reform package includes a number of efforts to boost transparency and oversight at the California Public Utilities Commission, including more frequent online disclosure of communications between commissioners and those affected by their decisions.

The commission has been under intense scrutiny after its former president, Michael Peevey, had an undisclosed meeting in Poland with a Southern California Edison executive regarding the assigning of costs between the company and rate payers for the decommissioning of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant in northern San Diego County.

The reorganization announced Monday would also transfer regulation of the fast-growing ride-hailing industry from the CPUC to the California State Transportation Agency. Many, including CPUC executives, have said that the existing structure for regulating Uber and Lyft is outdated and lacking expertise needed to protect consumers and drivers while also allowing for the companies’ growth.

“These reforms will change how this commission does business,” Brown said in a written statement. “Public access to meetings and records will be expanded, new safety and oversight positions will be created and ex parte communication rules will be strengthened.”

The deal comes after Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) had pushed for a constitutional amendment to reorganize the CPUC. Gatto was part of negotiations on the reform package and praised the effort.

“These reforms mark a new beginning for the CPUC,” Gatto said in a written statement. “The commission will become transparent and accountable to Californians and focused on the safety of our communities.”

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