California Gov. Brown calls for independent safety monitor for utility infrastructure

By Herman K. Trabish

Dive Brief:

Gov. Jerry Brown wants the California Public Utilities Commission to budget $1.69 million for a Division of Safety Advocates (DSA) that would monitor and report on the safety of utility infrastructure to prevent failures like the Alison Canyon methane leak and the San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Like the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA), which testifies to the CPUC in rate cases, the 11-person DSA would independently represent safety interests in commission proceedings. The proposal is part of the governor’s budget and the DSA could be operational by 2017 if it wins approval.

The budget proposal describes DSA’s duty as presenting safety issues to the regulators “irrespective of the cost impact.” The Utility Reform Network (TURN), a watchdog group on behalf of ratepayers, argued it is not safety but utility management that must be monitored.

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