Confidential report questions Public Utilities Commission safety culture

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A confidential audit ordered by the California Public Utilities Commission about its own safety culture reveals several of its employees have little faith in the commission's ability to properly regulate utilities.

The report, completed by Business Advantage Consulting and obtained by Eyewitness News, includes quotes from employees and high-level executives from within the CPUC questioning management and their relationship with the private utilities they regulate.

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One CPUC employee said, "We'll know we have a safety culture when Commissioners say 'yes' to our recommendations and 'no' to utilities."

Another employee said, "The regulated industries and lobbyists come to the PUC and see how casual the attitude and culture is here. As a result, they don't feel they have to comply."

"If we were enforcing the rules, we would not have to worry about a safety culture. If we were holding utilities accountable and doing what we were supposed to be doing, San Bruno would never have happened," said another CPUC employee.

The commission released this statement regarding the report: "We hired consultants to help us in our process of culture change across all the industries we regulate. ... As the report says, 'This report is not an evaluation of the objective truth of those views and perceptions.' We will use the results of the report to help us define what we need to change ..."