SAN FRANCISCO–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Ruling and an alternate Commissioner proposal regarding sanctions against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for ex parte violations concerning the assignment of a particular ALJ to the utility’s gas transmission and storage rate proceeding.

The Ruling by ALJ Hallie Yacknin bans PG&E from engaging in any ex parte communications with Commissioners or their Advisors, other than in publicly noticed meetings to which all parties are invited, and from communicating with Commissioners or their Advisors regarding procedural matters. PG&E is also required to report its communications with CPUC advisory staff regarding any issue in a pending proceeding.  The ban and restrictions apply to PG&E in all ratesetting and adjudicatory proceedings for one year or until the conclusion of the gas transmission and storage proceeding, whichever is later.

ALJ Yacknin has concurrently issued a Proposed Decision affirming her Ruling for the review and consideration of the CPUC’s Commissioners, and Commissioner Carla J. Peterman, who is assigned to the proceeding, has issued an Alternate Proposed Decision that would affirm ALJ Yacknin’s Ruling and add a $1.05 million penalty payable by PG&E’s shareholders. The Alternate would also implement a process for PG&E shareholders to pay for a portion of the revenues that would normally have been paid for by consumers during the delay caused by PG&E’s actions. This would be measured by the difference between the anticipated timing of the decision, as estimated in the original Scoping Memo, and a new target date that will be based on a revised Scoping Memo that will be issued after a prehearing conference scheduled for Oct. 20, 2014. The exact amount of this ratemaking remedy would be calculated at the time a final decision is rendered in the proceeding but would likely be considerably more than the penalty amount.

The Proposed and Alternate Proposed Decisions have been issued for public review and comment.  The proposals are scheduled for consideration at the CPUC’s Nov. 20 Voting Meeting. Until that time, the ALJ Ruling is in effect.