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California lawmaker demands probe of PG&E's chief regulator

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Jan 16, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A state lawmaker is demanding an extensive review of the California Public Utilities Commission to determine whether lax oversight enabled neglect at Pacific Gas & Electric that triggered catastrophic wildfires, a messy bankruptcy and exasperating blackouts.

Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray made the request Wednesday, which could turn up the heat on the commission while it plays a key role in determining PG&E's future.

The agency must approve PG&E's plan to get out of bankruptcy by June 30 so the nation's largest utility can qualify for coverage from a special state fund set up to help insulate utilities if their power lines ignite more expensive fires.

The decision on whether to open a commission probe will now fall to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. The 14-member committee is evenly split between the Assembly and Senate, but consists of nine Democrats and five Republicans. Democrats have a supermajority in both houses. The five Republican members are outnumbered by the nine Democrats.

The committee is expected to consider Gray's request on Feb. 19.