Corporate Mergers Beg CPUC Change to Affiliate Rulemaking As the landscape of mergers and acquisitions of and by utilities has changed radically in the last year, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to amend and expand its investigation into affiliate-transaction rules June 29. "There's an expected increase in acquisitions of utilities by holding companies," said CPUC member Geoffrey Brown. He cited an enhanced potential for conflicts of interest between utilities, their affiliates, and parent companies. In particular, there are concerns about procuring new sources of energy from what may be a web of related companies that may get preference over competitive supplies. The federal utility antitrust act, the Public Utility Holding Company Act, was repealed last year. "With the repeal, this commission has lost one of the protections underpinning its approval of the formation of the holding companies that control Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Pacific Gas & Electric," noted the commission's decision. Regulators also explained that the repeal could lead to "an environment in which the holding companies, themselves, become acquisition targets." Last month, for instance, the Wall Street Journal reported that PG&E is a potential acquisition target of Berkshire Hathaway. In amending their rulemaking, regulators insisted that they are not going to conduct additional discovery or continue litigation. Instead, there will be written comments, a workshop, and oral arguments beginning at the end of July. "An airing of these issues will hopefully clear the air," said commissioner John Bohn. A decision is expected in early November.