Senior Legal Counsel
Jesse W. Raskin
Berkeley , CA – On March 26, 2008, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael R. Peevey issued a landmark decision which increases public oversight into Southern California Edison’s record as a corporate citizen, within the context of the utility’s pending application for a $ 2.9 billion rate increase.
This landmark ruling provides a solid legal basis for consumer advocates to shed light on Edison’s corporate philanthropic investments in low income and minority communities in California . The decision, issued over Southern California Edison’s strong opposition, comes on the heels of a December 2007 ruling into Edison’s corporate practices, in which the Commission penalized Edison approximately $200 million for dishonest business practices.
On April 14, 2008, the Commission will begin public participation hearings throughout Edison ‘s service territory to gauge local opposition to the company’s pending application for a $ 2.9 billion rate increase. These hearings are the opportunity for Edison customers to speak directly to the Commission about such issues as Edison ‘s frugal philanthropy, over-paid executives, inequitable contracting practices, and dishonest business practices. Consumer advocates, civil rights attorneys, and underserved community leaders across Southern California question the need for such a large rate increase, especially given the recent downturn in the state’s economic fortunes.
Specifically, at a time when 7 in 10 residents say California is in a recession and three in four expect the state to have bad economic times during the next 12 months, many Edison customers find it hard to believe that: In 2007 Chief Executive Officer John Bryson received over eleven million dollars in salary; In 2006 Edison gave less than $2.5 million dollars in philanthropy, in total, to all of California’s Latinos, African Americans, & Asian Americans; and Edison awards less than 15% of all its contracting dollars to minority owned business, despite its longstanding public commitment to award a minimum of 22.5% all contracts to minorities annually.
As Faith Bautista, Executive Director of the Mabuhay Alliance says “We protest your extremely high salary of $11.7 million and your retirement package of $65 million. This is particularly inappropriate at a time of recession, nationwide foreclosures, and cutbacks to government services for the needy.”
To learn more about the upcoming public participation hearings visit http://www.greenlining,org/.