Consumer advocate Mike Florio and law professor and telecommunications specialist Catherine Sandoval sat on the California Public Utilities Commission dais for the first time this week. Governor Jerry Brown appointed them to the CPUC two days before the scheduled Jan. 27 business meeting, providing a quorum. Despite the meeting, no voting items were before the commission. \u201cI hope to do more with less under the current economic circumstances,\u201d said Florio, former senior attorney for The Utility Reform Network, Jan. 27. He said he hopes to work together with his fellow commissioners and the energy community to \u201crestore the luster\u201d of the Golden State. Sandoval, a University of Santa Clara law professor and former Federal Communications Committee staff member, added her goal is to \u201chelp California, help not only our climate, but our families and economy.\u201d In addition to being a telecommunications specialist, Sandoval told Current she also has experience in energy. As California Business Transportation & Housing undersecretary during the 2000-01 energy crises, Sandoval dealt first hand with the state\u2019s efforts to shore up struggling investor-owned utilities. She said that part of her purpose on the commission is to create a stable economic market for renewable energy. Sandoval is well aware of the high rate of return on utility investments. She noted that \u201cthe governor is very cognizant that rates not escalate.\u201d While no votes were cast at the Jan. 27 meeting because of public notice requirements, the new commissioners soon face thorny and complex issues, including: -Natural gas pipeline safety; -Smart meters\u2019 accuracy and health and safety impacts; -Energy efficiency shareholder awards for energy savings; and, -The cost and need for new utility power projects, including the Oakley project (see page 6). A seat remains open on the five-member commission. The other members of the commission are Mike Peevey, CPUC president, and Tim Simon. Peevey said that the new commission would vote Feb. 24 on consolidating past and future natural gas pipeline safety issues for utilities, not just Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E is in state and federal regulators\u2019 line of sight because of the Sept. 9 natural gas explosion that killed eight people and destroyed buildings. Peevey noted that other utilities also have pipeline safety issues. Just before the meeting, the Division of Ratepayer Advocates and The Utility Reform Network announced they were seeking a rehearing on regulators\u2019 recent decision to award California investor-owned energy utility shareholders $68 million in ratepayer-funded energy efficiency bonuses. The CPUC approved the bonuses on a 3-2 vote last month. The consumer advocates assert the bonuses were not supported by verified results. \u201cCPUC laxity is turning these programs into a gravy train for the utility companies. Ratepayers should not be on the hook for unearned shareholder profit,\u201d stated Mark Toney, TURN executive director. The issue resonated with new commissioner Sandoval. \u201cI want to align utilities\u201d risks and rewards, she said.