The Utility Reform Network is seeking a rehearing of the California Public Utilities Commission decision to slash its intervenor compensation claim for a court challenge of post-rate-freeze costs. Last month, the commission rejected an administrative law judge?s recommendation that TURN be awarded $1 million for its Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals lawsuit over the CPUC?Southern California Edison secret rate recovery settlement. That decision cut the consumer advocate?s legal claim by $712,000. The commission ?has subverted a statute intended to add voices to the utility-regulation forum, intended to provide a counterweight to the utilities? well-funded representation, and intended to give consumers equal access to judicial review,? TURN stated in its May 25 rehearing application. The consumer representative also took issue with the reduction of the hourly rates it submitted for its staff attorneys and outside counsels, insisting they be on a par with that of Pacific Gas & Electric?s outside counsel, Heller Ehrmann, for its work in the bankruptcy proceeding. TURN said the message from the CPUC?s April 21 ruling amounted to ?an inappropriate and unsupportable devaluing of the work of TURN?s staff attorneys and its outside counsel.? Bob Finkelstein, TURN executive director, does not feel the ruling is the first of many claim denials, noting that the CPUC normally compensates intervenors fairly. However, TURN will pursue the matter in the courts if its rehearing petition is denied ?to prove they?re wrong on how the law should be applied,? he added. The commission concluded that it would pay only $288,000 of TURN?s legal tab, challenging the CPUC?s reversal of its position on post-rate-freeze cost recovery because the advocates did not ?substantially contribute? to the outcome of the rate agreement with Edison, which was upheld on appeal. The CPUC originally denied post-freeze cost recovery on grounds it violated commission ratemaking decisions and the Public Utilities Code. TURN backed the commission?s position although the CPUC did an about-face and reached a secret deal with Edison to allow a rate hike. ?The commission now adds that an intervenor who challenges such a decision cannot be compensated for seeking judicial review of the ?no hearing, no public action? unless it overturns that action. With the [decision], the stifling of the public voice is complete,? TURN warned.