The California Public Utilities Commission
) is a regulatory agency which regulates privately owned public utilities in the state of California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...
, including electric power
The electric power industry provides the production and delivery of electric energy, often known as power, or electricity, in sufficient quantities to areas that need electricity through a grid connection. The grid distributes electrical energy to customers...
, telecommunications, natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...
and water companies. In addition, the CPUC regulates common carriers including household goods movers, passenger transportation companies (like limousine services) and rail crossing safety. The CPUC's headquarters are located in the Civic Center district of San Francisco
The Civic Center in San Francisco, California, is an area of a few blocks north of the intersection of Market Street and Van Ness Avenue that contains many of the city's largest government and cultural institutions. It has two large plazas and a number of buildings in classical architectural style...
, and the agency has field offices in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...
Sacramento is the capital of the state of California, in the United States of America.Sacramento may also refer to:- United States :*Sacramento County, California*Sacramento, Kentucky*Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta...
On April 1, 1878, the California Office of the Commissioner of Transportation was created. On March 3, 1879 the California Constitution
The document that establishes and describes the duties, powers, structure and function of the government of the U.S. state of California. The original constitution, adopted in November 1849 in advance of California attaining U.S. statehood in 1850, was superseded by the current constitution, which...
was adopted by constitutional convention
Constitutional convention may refer to:* Constitutional convention , an informal and unmodified procedural agreement.* Constitutional convention , a meeting of delegates to adopt a new constitution or revise an existing constitution.- Constitutional conventions by country :* Constitutional...
and was ratified by the electorate on May 7, 1879, and included provisions relating to Railroad Commissioners in article XII. On April 15, 1880 the Board of Railroad Commissioners was created. On March 20, 1909 the Railroad Commission of the State of California replaced these other entities. On February 9, 1911 the California Legislature passed the Railroad Commission Act reorganizing the Railroad Commission. On March 24, 1911 the California Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment giving it constitutional status, which was ratified by the electorate on October 10, 1911. On June 16, 1945 a constitutional amendment was proposed by the legislature to rename the Railroad Commission as the California Public Utilities Commission, which was ratified by the electorate on November 5, 1946.
During the 19th century, public concerns over the unbridled power of the Southern Pacific Railroad
The Southern Pacific Transportation Company , earlier Southern Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Company, and usually simply called the Southern Pacific or Espee, was an American railroad....
grew to the point that a 3-member Railroad Commission was established, primarily to approve transportation prices. However, the Southern Pacific quickly dominated this commission to its advantage, and public outrage re-ignited. As experience with public regulation grew, other common utilities were brought under the oversight of the Railroad Commission.
Five commissioners each serve staggered six-year terms as the governing body of the agency. Commissioners are appointed by the governor
The Governor of California is the chief executive of the California state government, whose responsibilities include making annual State of the State addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced...
and must be confirmed by the California State Senate
The California State Senate is the upper house of the California State Legislature. There are 40 state senators. The state legislature meets in the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The Lieutenant Governor is the ex officio President of the Senate and may break a tied vote...
. The Commission meets publicly to carry out the business of the agency, which may include the adoption of utility rate changes, rules on safety and service standards, implementation of conservation programs, investigation into unlawful or anticompetitive practices by regulated utilities and intervention into federal proceedings which affect California ratepayers.
As of June 6, 2011, the current commissioners are:
- President Michael R. Peevey (term expires in 2014)
- Mike Florio (term expires in 2017)
- Catherine J.K. Sandoval (term expires in 2017)
- Mark Ferron (term expires in 2017)
- Timothy Alan Simon (term expires in 2013)
Some regulatory laws are implemented by the California State Legislature
The California State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of California. It is a bicameral body consisting of the lower house, the California State Assembly, with 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, with 40 members...
through the passage of laws. These laws often reside in the California Public Utilities Code.
Energy and climate change
The Commission regulates investor-owned electric and gas utilities within the state of California, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison
Southern California Edison , the largest subsidiary of Edison International , is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California, USA. It provides 14 million people with electricity...
, and San Diego Gas & Electric
San Diego Gas & Electric is the utility that provides natural gas and electricity to San Diego County and southern Orange County in southwestern California, United States...
. Among its stated goals for energy regulation are to establish service standards and safety rules, authorize utility rate changes, oversee markets to inhibit anti-competitive activity, prosecute unlawful utility marketing and billing activities, govern business relationships between utilities and their affiliates, resolve complaints by customers against utilities, implement energy efficiency and conservation programs and programs for the low-income and disabled, oversee the merger and restructure of utility corporations, and enforce the California Environmental Quality Act
The California Environmental Quality Act is a California statute passed in 1970, shortly after the United States federal government passed the National Environmental Policy Act , to institute a statewide policy of environmental protection...
for utility construction.
California Solar Initiative
The California Solar Initiative
California Solar Initiative is a renewable energy program in the United States.As part of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Million Solar Roofs Program, California has set a goal to create 3,000 megawatts of new, solar-produced electricity by 2016 — moving the state toward a cleaner energy future...
is a $2.9 billion incentive program created by the CPUC and the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is California’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created in 1974 and headquartered in Sacramento, the Commission has responsibility for activities that include forecasting future energy needs, promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building...
in 2006. The goal of the initiative is to create 3,000 megawatts of new solar power
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...
generation in the state by 2017. The increased solar generation will erase the need for up to six new major power plants in California, according to the CPUC.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards
In January 2007, the CPUC adopted a greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...
emissions standard which requires new long-term commitments for baseload generation to serve California consumers be with power plants that have emissions no greater than a combined cycle
In electric power generation a combined cycle is an assembly of heat engines that work in tandem off the same source of heat, converting it into mechanical energy, which in turn usually drives electrical generators...
A gas turbine, also called a combustion turbine, is a type of internal combustion engine. It has an upstream rotating compressor coupled to a downstream turbine, and a combustion chamber in-between....
plant. The CPUC has stated that the emissions standard is a vital step in addressing ongoing concerns with global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...
Cap and trade
On February 8, 2008, California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) President Michael Peevey issued a proposed decision concerning implementation of California’s greenhouse gas emissions legislation, AB 32. The decision recommends a cap and trade program for the electricity sector in California that would impose regulations on owners and operators of generation in California and out-of-state generators delivering electricity to the California electrical grid.
The California Public Utilities Commission regulates intrastate telecommunications service and terms and conditions of wireless phone providers (but not entry or rates which are reserved to the Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...
.) The California PUC has developed a consumer-oriented communications website. The Public Utilities Commission also reviews third-party-verification recordings to monitor for telephone slamming
Telephone slamming is an illegal telecommunications practice, in which a subscriber's telephone service is changed without their consent. Slamming became a more visible issue after the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in the mid-1980s, especially after several brutal price wars...
The Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA) made the California PUC responsible for video franchises. In 2005, $60 million was donated by SBC Communications and Verizon relating to their respective mergers with AT&T and MCI
MCI, Inc. is an American telecommunications subsidiary of Verizon Communications that is headquartered in Ashburn, Virginia...
to establish a non profit organization known as the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) to "provide leadership statewide to minimize the "digital divide
The Digital Divide refers to inequalities between individuals, households, business, and geographic areas at different socioeconomic levels in access to information and communication technologies and Internet connectivity and in the knowledge and skills needed to effectively use the information...
" by accelerating the deployment of broadband and other advanced communication services to undeserved communities and populations."
The Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 gave the California PUC was granted limited authority to regulate video service providers via a statewide franchise scheme. The California PUC is responsible for licensing video service providers, and enforcing certain anti discrimination and build out requirements imposed by the Act. Local franchise authorities will continue to regulate rights of way used by video providers, handle consumer complaints, and requirements as to public, educational, and government access
Public, educational, and government access television, refers to three different cable television specialty channels...
The California Public Utility Commission also played a key role in the Governor's Broadband Task Force formed in 2006. The task force produced two reports making recommendations to the Governor on what could be done to enhance broadband in California, engaging in a broadband mapping project for California, and producing a broadband speed report. In response to the Task Force mapping project and report, the CPUC launched an innovative California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), which is a two year, infrastructure grant program to bring broadband to unserved or underserved areas of California. The fund comes from a 0.25% telephone surcharge. Broadband providers may apply for 40% infrastructure grants to build broadband to unserved and underserved communities within a three year time frame, and must provide 60% matching funds.
The concept behind General Order 107-B
is that telephone calls cannot be recorded in California unless all parties to the call know it is being recorded.
The Order states the specifics of what must be done in order to lawfully record telephone calls. Based on the 1983 version, one way to meet the requirements may be to give a verbal warning. This often occurs by the playing of a recording in an automatic call distribution queue: "Your call may be recorded or monitored for quality assurance purposes."
Another method allowed to warn all callers a call is being recorded is the presence of a recorder warning tone: a 1,440 Hz tone repeating every fifteen seconds. In the 1960s, radio stations with call-in programs used to employ a recorder warning tone.
The Order requires that telephone utilities disconnect telephone service for violations of this Order.