Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) introduced a bill aiming to tip the balance on contentious confidentiality rules at the California Public Utilities Commission in favor of more public scrutiny. Bowen?s bill, SB 1488, was sparked by wide-ranging criticism that an emphasis on secret data has stifled a competitive procurement process in several CPUC proceedings and kept a lid on details of Pacific Gas & Electric?s bankruptcy settlement. After Bowen?s Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee turned up the heat last year, the commission agreed in January to base decisions for utility projects and power-purchase agreements ?solely? on public information. SB 1488 would further prod the CPUC by requiring that all data submitted by utilities to the commission be open to public scrutiny, unless the agency orders that it be kept secret. Under current law, most information can be kept confidential unless the commission orders otherwise. ?The presumption is for secrecy. This bill would significantly reverse that presumption,? according to Terry Francke, general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group. While the measure would put the burden on the commission to order that information stay under wraps, it would have more teeth if the CPUC is explicitly required to justify why it is withholding information, said Francke. Some generator representatives expressed skepticism about the impact of SB 1488. ?Making all information publicly accessible rather than not is probably a better starting point. However, all it takes is the CPUC to deem some information to be private, and the same old rule applies,? said Gary Ackerman, executive director of the Western Power Trading Forum.