Assm. Mark Levine (D-Marin County) is proposing expanded oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric in the aftermath of last year's public-safety power shut-offs that caused "economic losses estimated in the billions," he said Jan. 6.

The bill—AB 1847—would authorize the California Public Utilities Commission to hire a public administrator to oversee the public-safety operations of PG&E or any investor-owned utility and review its finances, infrastructure reliability and safety record.

The new administrator would be embedded in an IOU's leadership and make decisions necessary to restore critical infrastructure, ensure that proper safety protocols are followed, and increase public confidence in the utility, according to Levine, and would be hired for up to 180 days. If the CPUC then determines that the utility was meeting its regulatory requirements, full management responsibilities would be returned to it.

"PG&E's poor judgment continues to harm California residents and our state's economy," Levine said. "AB 1847 will help all utilities refocus their priorities on safety and increase needed public confidence in essential electrical utility services. California's economy cannot afford to spend another decade in the dark."

PG&E told California Energy Markets that it is currently reviewing the bill and has not taken a position.

The CPUC did not respond to a request for comment on Levine's proposal. The commission currently has multiple utility safety oversight branches, including the Risk Assessment and Safety Advisory Branch, which ensures that the regulated entities integrate risk analysis and risk-management practices into their current operations, future planning and decision-making processes; the Electric Safety and Reliability Branch, which enforces CPUC rules and regulations to ensure that power plants and utility companies run a safe and reliable electric or communications system; the Office of the Safety Advocate, which advocates for the continuous and cost-effective improvement of the safety management and safety performance of public utilities; and the Safety and Enforcement Division.

Staff Writer

David Krause is an energy reporter covering the California Energy Commission and Air Resources Board. He writes about transportation, climate change, utilities, and wildfires. He has an MFA in Writing, an MA in English, and a BS in Civil Engineering.