Calif Consumer Group Files Suit Versus PUC Over Utilities ‘Bailouts’

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Energy Info Source

A California consumer group Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state Public Utilities Commission that could derail the commission’s alternate plan of reorganization for bankrupt PG&E Corp.

The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court, seeks to ban the CPUC from recommending that ratepayer revenue be used to pay down the utility’s debt – a key component of the commission’s plan. The lawsuit also would enjoin the CPUC from crafting any plan that involves “ratemaking” without public review, said Doug Heller, spokesman for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

“By state law, the commission is not allowed to do ratemaking in closed session. If they are proposing an alternate PG&E plan to extend a rate hike, that’s doing ratemaking,” Heller said.

The commission is also trying to bypass state law by working directly within the federal court system, which is illegal, Heller said.

The CPUC reorganization plan would have Pacific Gas and Electric pay down debt through suspended shareholder dividends, long-term debt refinancing, and the maintaining of retail electricity rates at their current level, which is higher than wholesale rates. The commission must file details of its plan with a federal bankruptcy judge by April 15 .

The FTCR filed its lawsuit directly to the state Supreme Court because of the urgency and immediacy of the matter, Heller said.

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