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California Public Utilities Code Section 309.5

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309.5.  (a) There is within the commission an independent Office of
Ratepayer Advocates to represent and advocate on behalf of the
interests of public utility customers and subscribers within the
jurisdiction of the commission. The goal of the office shall be to
obtain the lowest possible rate for service consistent with reliable
and safe service levels. For revenue allocation and rate design
matters, the office shall primarily consider the interests of
residential and small commercial customers.
   (b) The director of the office shall be appointed by, and serve at
the pleasure of, the Governor, subject to confirmation by the
Senate.
   The director shall annually appear before the appropriate policy
committees of the Assembly and the Senate to report on the activities
of the office.
   (c) The director shall develop a budget for the office that shall
be subject to final approval of the Department of Finance. As
authorized in the approved budget, the office shall employ personnel
and resources, including attorneys and other legal support staff, at
a level sufficient to ensure that customer and subscriber interests
are effectively represented in all significant proceedings. The
office may employ experts necessary to carry out its functions. The
director may appoint a lead attorney who shall represent the office,
and shall report to and serve at the pleasure of the director. The
lead attorney for the office shall obtain adequate legal personnel
for the work to be conducted by the office from the commission's
attorney appointed pursuant to Section 307. The commission's attorney
shall timely and appropriately fulfill all requests for legal
personnel made by the lead attorney for the office, provided the
office has sufficient moneys and positions in its budget for the
services requested.
   (d) The commission shall develop appropriate procedures to ensure
that the existence of the office does not create a conflict of roles
for any employee. The procedures shall include, but shall not be
limited to, the development of a code of conduct and procedures for
ensuring that advocates and their representatives on a particular
case or proceeding are not advising decisionmakers on the same case
or proceeding.
   (e) The office may compel the production or disclosure of any
information it deems necessary to perform its duties from any entity
regulated by the commission, provided that any objections to any
request for information shall be decided in writing by the assigned
commissioner or by the president of the commission, if there is no
assigned commissioner.
   (f) There is hereby created the Public Utilities Commission
Ratepayer Advocate Account in the General Fund. Moneys from the
Public Utilities Commission Utilities Reimbursement Account in the
General Fund shall be transferred in the annual Budget Act to the
Public Utilities Commission Ratepayer Advocate Account. The funds in
the Public Utilities Commission Ratepayer Advocate Account shall be a
budgetary program fund administered and utilized exclusively by the
office in the performance of its duties as determined by the
director. The director shall annually submit a staffing report
containing a comparison of the staffing levels for each five-year
period.
   (g) On or before January 10 of each year, the office shall provide
to the chairperson of the fiscal committee of each house of the
Legislature and to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee all of the
following information:
   (1) The number of personnel years utilized during the prior year
by the Office of Ratepayer Advocates.
   (2) The total dollars expended by the Office of Ratepayer
Advocates in the prior year, the estimated total dollars expended in
the current year, and the total dollars proposed for appropriation in
the following budget year.
   (3) Workload standards and measures for the Office of Ratepayer
Advocates.
   (h) The office shall meet and confer in an informal setting with a
regulated entity prior to issuing a report or pleading to the
commission regarding alleged misconduct, or a violation of a law or a
commission rule or order, raised by the office in a complaint. The
meet and confer process shall be utilized in good faith to reach
agreement on issues raised by the office regarding any regulated
entity in the complaint proceeding.

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Last modified: March 17, 2014