Looking Out for the Public in the PUC

(April 19) – A bill by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, to improve how the Public Utilities Commission operates passed out of the House Transportation & Energy Committee this afternoon with a 9-4 vote.

“This bill is about what kind of guard rails we can put in place to protect Colorado consumers,” said Rep. Esgar. “The PUC was developed to protect the best interest of all of Colorado, but in the past few years, the commission has suffered an erosion of public trust. My community has been hit hard by the decisions made by a commission made of just three people.  This bill works to re-establish trust in the PUC and ensure we stand up for Coloradans.”

HB17-1323 creates a four-year waiting period between employment at a utility company and serving on the commission. The bill also creates a code of ethics to ensure the commission is committed to openness and independence. Third, the bill sets up a platform for the public to access written and audio recordings of commission meetings online.

The bill also creates the position of independent ombudsman for ethics that would receive complaints about the commission’s performance of its duties; create and administer ethics training for commissioners and staff; and make annual reports to the legislature concerning complaints about the commission.

Finally, to ensure the PUC keeps up with the rapidly changing utility landscape, the bill creates opportunities for PUC staff to receive training and build their knowledge base.

The bill proceeds to the House Appropriations Committee.

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