The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has asserted jurisdiction over a controversial proposal by Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) to transfer personnel and assets from an existing ratepayer-funded energy-efficiency program to an unregulated affiliate. Several parties voiced concern that divesting individual business units while major restructuring is being debated would constitute "a precedent-setting consideration which will resonate in 49 other public utility commissions." Nevertheless, the CPUC said it did not intend its "narrow decision" to claim jurisdiction over SCE's specific proposal as a ruling on how electric utilities may divest themselves of functions that "we may regulate differently under restructuring."
SCE had asked the CPUC either to give quick approval or to find that the transaction did not require approval under state public utility law. The utility claimed that its administration of a demand-side pilot program for large users (em known as ENVEST (em showed that "properly structured customer energy solutions" for large customers could now stand without customer support.
The CPUC asserted jurisdiction over the matter under a state law requiring commission approval for the transfer of any property necessary or useful in providing utility service. The CPUC rejected the utility's allegations that the law did not apply because 1) the proposed transfer involves primarily personnel as opposed to "rate base property," and 2) SCE had no duty to provide conservation services as part of its public utility service obligations. Re Southern California Edison Co., Application 95-05-060, Decision 95-11-026, Nov. 8, 1995 (Cal.P.U.C.).