Regulators’ Interactions Curbed

By Published On: October 9, 2014

Whether closed-door meetings and written exchanges are allowed with commissioners, and if they must be reported varies. California Public Utilities Commission’s ex parte parameters depend on whether the proceeding is rate setting, quasi legislative or adjudicatory. Ex parte refers to nonpublic, off-the-record, oral and written communications between a decision maker and interested party on a substantive matter. The strictest rules are set for adjudicatory matters, including enforcement investigations, such as the one involving the San Bruno gas pipeline blast. Closed-door communications with decision makers are flat out prohibited in these matters. For rate setting dockets, ex parte oral and written communications are allowed. With written exchanges, the interested party communicating with the decision maker must notify other parties in the case the same day. For oral communications, “all other parties shall be granted an individual meeting of a substantially equal period of time with that decision maker,” according to the commission’s rules. In addition, notice by the interested party is required. There are no restrictions on ex parte communications or reporting requirements for quasi legislative matters. They include development of policy and overall rules.

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