Light-handed or Light-headed?Customers didn't buy power on lay-away. So why should the CPUC exact interest?
In a recent dream, the Governor of California called to ask if I would accept an appointment to serve on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Of course I thanked him and said I was extremely flattered by the offer. However, I inquired, didn't he have an opening on the parole board or air resources board? You see, I know entirely too much about the thankless work of the CPUC. Frankly, I would rather take a cut in pay and face convicted felons or contaminated air.
The nearly impossible job of a CPUC commissioner is to understand highly complex technical issues as well as the underlying policies, and to manipulate both in a manner that advances California's political, business, and social agendas. The result? Somebody is always upset. No CPUC case illustrates this better than the current debate over the competition transition charge (CTC).
The dilemma for the regulator/ policymaker is where to draw the line. In its December 20, 1995, decision, the CPUC said that all customers taking utility service on or after that date would be responsible for a "nonbypassable" CTC. But what about customers who close shop and leave the state? What about customers who go out of business entirely? What about new customers for whose loads the utility hasn't invested a dime? What about