California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 2603


Introduced by Assembly Member Nazarian

February 19, 2016


An act to amend Sections 1801.3 and 1802 of, and to add Section 1809 to, the Public Utilities Code, relating to proceedings of the Public Utilities Commission.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 2603, as introduced, Nazarian. Public Utilities Commission: proceedings: intervenor compensation.

Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has broad regulatory authority pursuant to the California Constitution and the Public Utilities Act over public utilities, as defined, including common carriers, toll bridge corporations, electrical corporations, gas corporations, pipeline corporations, telephone corporations, telegraph corporations, water corporations, sewer system corporations, and heat corporations. In addition, the commission has more limited authority over certain other corporations, including charter-party carriers of passengers. Existing law provides compensation for reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs to public utility customers and representatives of customers for participation or intervention in formal proceedings of the commission involving electrical, gas, water, telegraph, and telephone public utilities.

This bill would additionally authorize compensation to be awarded by the commission for reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs to customers and representatives of customers for participation or intervention in formal proceedings of the commission involving a corporation that is subject to regulation by the commission pursuant to the Passenger Charter-Party Carriers’ Act.

Existing law requires the commission to deny compensation to any customer who attempts to delay or obstruct the orderly and timely fulfillment of the commission’s responsibilities.

This bill would require the commission to deny any claim for compensation for contributions to a closed proceeding unless otherwise specified.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 1801.3 of the Public Utilities Code is
2amended to read:

3

1801.3.  

It is the intent of the Legislature that:

4(a) The provisions of this article shall apply to all formal
5proceedings of the commission involvingbegin delete electric,end deletebegin insert electrical,end insert gas,
6water,begin insert telegraph,end insert and telephonebegin delete utilities.end deletebegin insert corporationsend insertbegin insert and to
7corporations that are subject to regulation by the commission
8pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 5351) of Division
92.end insert

10(b) The provisions of this article shall be administered in a
11manner that encourages the effective and efficient participation of
12all groups that have a stake in the public utility regulation process.

13(c) The process for finding eligibility for intervenor
14compensation be streamlined, by simplifying the preliminary
15showing by an intervenor of issues, budget, and costs.

16(d) Intervenors be compensated for making a substantial
17contribution to proceedings of the commission, as determined by
18the commission in its orders and decisions.

19(e) Intervenor compensation be awarded to eligible intervenors
20in a timely manner, within a reasonable period after the intervenor
21has made the substantial contribution to a proceeding that is the
22basis for the compensation award.

23(f) This article shall be administered in a manner that avoids
24unproductive or unnecessary participation that duplicates the
25participation of similar interests otherwise adequately represented
26or participation that is not necessary for a fair determination of the
27proceeding.

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SEC. 2.  

Section 1802 of the Public Utilities Code is amended
2to read:

3

1802.  

As used in this article:

4(a) “Compensation” means payment for all or part, as determined
5by the commission, of reasonable advocate’s fees, reasonable
6expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs of preparation for
7and participation in a proceeding, and includes the fees and costs
8of obtaining an award under this article and of obtaining judicial
9review, if any.

10(b) (1) “Customer” means any of the following:

11(A) A participant representing consumers, customers, or
12subscribers of any electrical, gas, telephone, telegraph, or water
13begin delete corporation that is subject to the jurisdiction of the commission.end delete
14begin insert corporation or representing consumers, customers, or passengers
15of any corporation subject to regulation by the commission
16pursuant to Chapter 8 (commencing with Section 5351) of Division
172.end insert

18(B) A representative who has been authorized by a customer.

19(C) A representative of a group or organization authorized
20pursuant to its articles of incorporation or bylaws to represent the
21interests of residential customers, or to represent small commercial
22customers who receive bundled electric service from an electrical
23corporation.

24(2) “Customer” does not include any state, federal, or local
25government agency, any publicly owned public utility, or any
26entity that, in the commission’s opinion, was established or formed
27by a local government entity for the purpose of participating in a
28 commission proceeding.

29(c) “Expert witness fees” means recorded or billed costs incurred
30by a customer for an expert witness.

31(d) “Other reasonable costs” means reasonable out-of-pocket
32expenses directly incurred by a customer that are directly related
33to the contentions or recommendations made by the customer that
34resulted in a substantial contribution.

35(e) “Party” means any interested party, respondent public utility,
36or commission staff in a hearing or proceeding.

37(f) “Proceeding” means an application, complaint, or
38investigation, rulemaking, alternative dispute resolution procedures
39in lieu of formal proceedings as may be sponsored or endorsed by
40the commission, or other formal proceeding before the commission.

P4    1(g) “Significant financial hardship” means either that the
2customer cannot afford, without undue hardship, to pay the costs
3of effective participation, including advocate’s fees, expert witness
4fees, and other reasonable costs of participation, or that, in the case
5of a group or organization, the economic interest of the individual
6members of the group or organization is small in comparison to
7the costs of effective participation in the proceeding.

8(h) “Small commercial customer” means any nonresidential
9customer with a maximum peak demand of less than 50 kilowatts.
10The commission may establish rules to modify or change the
11definition of “small commercial customer,” including use of criteria
12other than a peak demand threshold, if the commission determines
13that the modification or change will promote participation in
14proceedings at the commission by organizations representing small
15 businesses, without incorporating large commercial and industrial
16customers.

17(i) “Substantial contribution” means that, in the judgment of
18the commission, the customer’s presentation has substantially
19assisted the commission in the making of its order or decision
20because the order or decision has adopted in whole or in part one
21or more factual contentions, legal contentions, or specific policy
22or procedural recommendations presented by the customer. Where
23the customer’s participation has resulted in a substantial
24contribution, even if the decision adopts that customer’s contention
25or recommendations only in part, the commission may award the
26customer compensation for all reasonable advocate’s fees,
27reasonable expert fees, and other reasonable costs incurred by the
28customer in preparing or presenting that contention or
29recommendation.

30

SEC. 3.  

Section 1809 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to
31read:

32

1809.  

The commission shall deny any claim for compensation
33for contributions to a closed proceeding unless otherwise specified
34in this article.



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