Calpine is prodding the California Public Utilities Commission to quit dragging its heels on the agency?s repeated pledge to loosen its hold on confidential information. But Calpine may have an uphill battle, after the CPUC and investor-owned utilities applied pressure to weaken legislation aimed at forcing the commission to shed light on its proceedings. SB 1488, by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), came in response to widespread protests that regulators? expanded emphasis on secret information hinders public participation in key proceedings such as Pacific Gas & Electric?s bankruptcy case. Calpine renewed these criticisms in a July 22 emergency motion, citing the difficulty in analyzing utility long-term procurement plans with so much data under wraps. Before it was watered down, the measure required that information provided to the CPUC be publicly available, with exceptions for proprietary data. However, the current version calls for the commission only to conduct a proceeding to ensure that its practices allow ?meaningful? public participation and ?open decision making.? No specifics spell out what could constitute the desired manner of public participation and decision making. Bowen decided to ?amend the bill in fashion to pass the committee and live to fight another day,? said Evan Goldberg, the senator?s chief of staff. The bill faced stiff opposition from investor-owned utilities, the CPUC, and the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. Bowen, however, hopes to amend the bill again to restore tougher provisions, Goldberg said. ?The breadth of information that could be open to public inspection may cause a chilling effect in terms of utilities? willingness to provide the commission with information,? Bowen was warned last month in a letter from regulators. For their part, utilities pressed for certain classes of information to be withheld from public view, including rate information, prices in competitive bids, assumptions underlying those numbers, energy use of customers, demand-response agreements with large energy customers, and security issues (<i>Circuit<\/i>, March 26, 2004). Despite the weakened bill, Calpine is making a case for the CPUC to follow through on promises made in January and several other times this year to sunshine its proceedings. The Independent Energy Producers backs Calpine?s motion. ?There is no reason...to protect such demand forecasts and supply information (such as the capacity of utility owned generation units) from disclosure, particularly so far in the future,? said Calpine, noting that PG&E redacted peak supply and demand forecasts through 2014. In fact, this type of information is part of the public record in other cases, added the company. But the pendulum could be swinging toward more restrictions at the CPUC. In a July 27 ruling, administrative law judge Mark Wetzell determined that the commission?s executive director will be able to decide how long information remains under a protective order. Prior to the ruling, conclusion of judicial review marked the end of this status. This provision could potentially lengthen the time that data are kept secret. In general, protective orders are meant to shield commercially sensitive data from market participants. In early July, Paul Clanon, Energy Division director, said a ruling on confidentiality guidelines was ?imminent? after predicting previously that it would be released in June. As July drew to a close, however, the CPUC press office said revised parameters are still being worked on and are now expected in August.