Agency exposed billions in PG&E overcharges in 2010; key analyst killed in San Bruno disaster

$3.2 billon in overcharges to the public — that’s what the California Office of Ratepayer Advocates found in PG&E’s proposed rate increases for fiscal year 2011-2013.

ORA is the only state agency to advocate for California ratepayers. Formerly known as the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, it is a part of the California Public Utilities Commission. Its statutory mission:

To obtain the lowest possible rates for service consistent with reliable and safe service levels. In fulfilling this goal, DRA also advocates for customer and environmental protections.

PG&E submitted its proposal in late 2009 — A.09-12-020. ORA began its considerable analysis, including requests to PG&E for records.

On May 5, 2010, ORA submitted its report and sent out a press release. The findings: PG&E’s $4.2 billion request for rate increases was $3.2 billion too high. ORA cut over 75% from PG&E request and told the CPUC to “clamp down” on PG&E.

Then, in June, ORA submitted an additional proposal as a special amendment in the proceeding. It asked the CPUC to eliminate most of PG&E’s $15 million dollar food and entertainment budget. What it found in PG&E recordkeeping, including non-existent records, and corporate responses is here.[i] PG&E executives were later criticized for a lavish trip they took to San Luis Obispo on the day of the San Bruno explosion.[ii]

In the end, after a negotiated settlement, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates’ work cost PG&E $2.7 billion dollars, eliminating over half its proposed increase.

Jacqueline Greig was a key analyst at the Office of Ratepayer Advocates and involved in this proceeding. She and her daughter were at the center of the explosion at San Bruno. They were killed September 9, 2010.

 

Office of Ratepayer Advocates documents:

May 5, 2010: ORA Press release

May 5, 2010: Executive Summary

June 21, 2010: ORA special amendment on food and entertainment

July 22, 2010: Motion to strike PG&E testimony

2011 decision[iii]

2010 ORA Annual Report

22011 ORA Annual Report

2010 ORA organization chart

Jacki was a long-time Commission employee of over 20 years and worked for the Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) as a senior regulatory analyst in DRA’s Natural Gas Section. She spent the majority of her career in DRA working on natural gas matters and soon rose to become one of the most foremost and invaluable natural gas experts at the CPUC. She was also DRA’s representative on the natural gas committee of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates.

Jacki was a dedicated Commission employee with keen professional insight and a staunch advocate for California ratepayers. Jacki was a stellar individual and consistently earned the highest commendations from her supervisors and managers over the years.

From In Memorium, ORA 2010 annual report to the California legislature, p. 7

 

Some links to key documents in GRC Docket

http://www.dra.ca.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=84
ORA Press release, 5-5-10

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/MOTION/119529.PDF
ORA, Rebuttal on food and entertainment 6-10-10

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/MOTION/119941.pdf
Aglet motion to strike PG&E testimony re 2009

http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/MOTION/121020.PDF
ORA motion to strike PG&E testimony 7-22-10

——————————————————————————-

[i] http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/EFILE/MOTION/119529.PDF

[ii] http://quartz.he.net/~beyondch/news/index.php?itemid=8506

[iii] http://www.dra.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=230
2011 ORA annual report

2011 General Rate Case

In May 2011, the CPUC issued a decision which
adopted the settlement agreement of seventeen
parties, including DRA. The agreement allows
PG&E to receive a cumulative base revenue
increase of $1.7 billion for the 3-year period
covering 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In 2009, PG&E had originally requested a 3-year,
cumulative revenue increase of nearly $4.2 billion
for its electric distribution, gas distribution, and
electric generation operations. After a detailed
analysis of PG&E’s request, in 2010 DRA released
its reports which found that only a $1.0 billion
cumulative increase in revenues was reasonable
for 2011-2013.

DRA’s analysis and negotiation aided in saving
PG&E customers $2.47 billion for 2011 through 2013.

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