Article 5. Intervenor’s Fees And Expenses of California Public Utilities Code >> Division 1. >> Part 1. >> Chapter 9. >> Article 5.
The purpose of this article is to provide compensation for
reasonable advocate's fees, reasonable expert witness fees, and other
reasonable costs to public utility customers of participation or
intervention in any proceeding of the commission.
It is the intent of the Legislature that:
(a) The provisions of this article shall apply to all formal
proceedings of the commission involving electric, gas, water, and
(b) The provisions of this article shall be administered in a
manner that encourages the effective and efficient participation of
all groups that have a stake in the public utility regulation
(c) The process for finding eligibility for intervenor
compensation be streamlined, by simplifying the preliminary showing
by an intervenor of issues, budget, and costs.
(d) Intervenors be compensated for making a substantial
contribution to proceedings of the commission, as determined by the
commission in its orders and decisions.
(e) Intervenor compensation be awarded to eligible intervenors in
a timely manner, within a reasonable period after the intervenor has
made the substantial contribution to a proceeding that is the basis
for the compensation award.
(f) This article shall be administered in a manner that avoids
unproductive or unnecessary participation that duplicates the
participation of similar interests otherwise adequately represented
or participation that is not necessary for a fair determination of
As used in this article:
(a) "Compensation" means payment for all or part, as determined by
the commission, of reasonable advocate's fees, reasonable expert
witness fees, and other reasonable costs of preparation for and
participation in a proceeding, and includes the fees and costs of
obtaining an award under this article and of obtaining judicial
review, if any.
(b) (1) "Customer" means any of the following:
(A) A participant representing consumers, customers, or
subscribers of any electrical, gas, telephone, telegraph, or water
corporation that is subject to the jurisdiction of the commission.
(B) A representative who has been authorized by a customer.
(C) A representative of a group or organization authorized
pursuant to its articles of incorporation or bylaws to represent the
interests of residential customers, or to represent small commercial
customers who receive bundled electric service from an electrical
(2) "Customer" does not include any state, federal, or local
government agency, any publicly owned public utility, or any entity
that, in the commission's opinion, was established or formed by a
local government entity for the purpose of participating in a
(c) "Expert witness fees" means recorded or billed costs incurred
by a customer for an expert witness.
(d) "Other reasonable costs" means reasonable out-of-pocket
expenses directly incurred by a customer that are directly related to
the contentions or recommendations made by the customer that
resulted in a substantial contribution.
(e) "Party" means any interested party, respondent public utility,
or commission staff in a hearing or proceeding.
(f) "Proceeding" means an application, complaint, or
investigation, rulemaking, alternative dispute resolution procedures
in lieu of formal proceedings as may be sponsored or endorsed by the
commission, or other formal proceeding before the commission.
(g) "Significant financial hardship" means either that the
customer cannot afford, without undue hardship, to pay the costs of
effective participation, including advocate's fees, expert witness
fees, and other reasonable costs of participation, or that, in the
case of a group or organization, the economic interest of the
individual members of the group or organization is small in
comparison to the costs of effective participation in the proceeding.
(h) "Small commercial customer" means any nonresidential customer
with a maximum peak demand of less than 50 kilowatts. The commission
may establish rules to modify or change the definition of "small
commercial customer," including use of criteria other than a peak
demand threshold, if the commission determines that the modification
or change will promote participation in proceedings at the commission
by organizations representing small businesses, without
incorporating large commercial and industrial customers.
(i) "Substantial contribution" means that, in the judgment of the
commission, the customer's presentation has substantially assisted
the commission in the making of its order or decision because the
order or decision has adopted in whole or in part one or more factual
contentions, legal contentions, or specific policy or procedural
recommendations presented by the customer. Where the customer's
participation has resulted in a substantial contribution, even if the
decision adopts that customer's contention or recommendations only
in part, the commission may award the customer compensation for all
reasonable advocate's fees, reasonable expert fees, and other
reasonable costs incurred by the customer in preparing or presenting
that contention or recommendation.
A representative of a group representing the interests of
small commercial customers who receive bundled electric service from
an electrical corporation shall not be eligible for an award of
compensation pursuant to this article if the representative has a
conflict arising from prior representation before the commission.
This conflict may not be waived.
Participation by a customer that materially supplements,
complements, or contributes to the presentation of another party,
including the commission staff, may be fully eligible for
compensation if the participation makes a substantial contribution to
a commission order or decision, consistent with Section 1801.3.
The commission shall award reasonable advocate's fees,
reasonable expert witness fees, and other reasonable costs of
preparation for and participation in a hearing or proceeding to any
customer who complies with Section 1804 and satisfies both of the
(a) The customer's presentation makes a substantial contribution
to the adoption, in whole or in part, of the commission's order or
(b) Participation or intervention without an award of fees or
costs imposes a significant financial hardship.
(a) (1) A customer who intends to seek an award under this
article shall, within 30 days after the prehearing conference is
held, file and serve on all parties to the proceeding a notice of
intent to claim compensation. In cases where no prehearing conference
is scheduled or where the commission anticipates that the proceeding
will take less than 30 days, the commission may determine the
procedure to be used in filing these requests. In cases where the
schedule would not reasonably allow parties to identify issues within
the timeframe set forth above, or where new issues emerge subsequent
to the time set for filing, the commission may determine an
appropriate procedure for accepting new or revised notices of intent.
(2) (A) The notice of intent to claim compensation shall include
both of the following:
(i) A statement of the nature and extent of the customer's planned
participation in the proceeding as far as it is possible to set it
out when the notice of intent is filed.
(ii) An itemized estimate of the compensation that the customer
expects to request, given the likely duration of the proceeding as it
appears at the time.
(B) The notice of intent may also include a showing by the
customer that participation in the hearing or proceeding would pose a
significant financial hardship. Alternatively, such a showing shall
be included in the request submitted pursuant to subdivision (c).
(C) Within 15 days after service of the notice of intent to claim
compensation, the administrative law judge may direct the staff, and
may permit any other interested party, to file a statement responding
to the notice.
(b) (1) If the customer's showing of significant financial
hardship was included in the notice filed pursuant to subdivision
(a), the administrative law judge, in consultation with the assigned
commissioner, shall issue within 30 days thereafter a preliminary
ruling addressing whether the customer will be eligible for an award
of compensation. The ruling shall address whether a showing of
significant financial hardship has been made. A finding of
significant financial hardship shall create a rebuttable presumption
of eligibility for compensation in other commission proceedings
commencing within one year of the date of that finding.
(2) The administrative law judge may, in any event, issue a ruling
addressing issues raised by the notice of intent to claim
compensation. The ruling may point out similar positions, areas of
potential duplication in showings, unrealistic expectation for
compensation, and any other matter that may affect the customer's
ultimate claim for compensation. Failure of the ruling to point out
similar positions or potential duplication or any other potential
impact on the ultimate claim for compensation shall not imply
approval of any claim for compensation. A finding of significant
financial hardship in no way ensures compensation. Similarly, the
failure of the customer to identify a specific issue in the notice of
intent or to precisely estimate potential compensation shall not
preclude an award of reasonable compensation if a substantial
contribution is made.
(c) Following issuance of a final order or decision by the
commission in the hearing or proceeding, a customer who has been
found, pursuant to subdivision (b), to be eligible for an award of
compensation may file within 60 days a request for an award. The
request shall include at a minimum a detailed description of services
and expenditures and a description of the customer's substantial
contribution to the hearing or proceeding. Within 30 days after
service of the request, the commission staff may file, and any other
party may file, a response to the request.
(d) The commission may audit the records and books of the customer
to the extent necessary to verify the basis for the award. The
commission shall preserve the confidentiality of the customer's
records in making its audit. Within 20 days after completion of the
audit, if any, the commission shall direct that an audit report shall
be prepared and filed. Any other party may file a response to the
audit report within 20 days thereafter.
(e) Within 75 days after the filing of a request for compensation
pursuant to subdivision (c), or within 50 days after the filing of an
audit report, whichever occurs later, the commission shall issue a
decision that determines whether or not the customer has made a
substantial contribution to the final order or decision in the
hearing or proceeding. If the commission finds that the customer
requesting compensation has made a substantial contribution, the
commission shall describe this substantial contribution and shall
determine the amount of compensation to be paid pursuant to Section
The computation of compensation awarded pursuant to Section
1804 shall take into consideration the market rates paid to persons
of comparable training and experience who offer similar services. The
compensation awarded may not, in any case, exceed the comparable
market rate for services paid by the commission or the public
utility, whichever is greater, to persons of comparable training and
experience who are offering similar services.
(a) An award made under this article shall be paid by the
public utility that is the subject of the hearing, investigation, or
proceeding, as determined by the commission, within 30 days.
Notwithstanding any other law, an award paid by a public utility
pursuant to this article shall be allowed by the commission as an
expense for the purpose of establishing rates of the public utility
by way of a dollar-for-dollar adjustment to rates imposed by the
commission immediately on the determination of the amount of the
award, so that the amount of the award shall be fully recovered
within one year from the date of the award.
(b) Due to the bankruptcy of Sacramento Natural Gas Storage, the
commission's intervenor compensation award to the Avondale Glen Elder
Neighborhood Association in A.07-04-013 has been reduced to a
fraction of the amount awarded. In this limited circumstance, the
commission may pay to the Avondale Glen Elder Neighborhood
Association the difference between the amount received from the
bankruptcy court and the amount awarded by the commission by
increasing the fees collected in Section 401 for the limited purpose
The commission shall deny any award to any customer who
attempts to delay or obstruct the orderly and timely fulfillment of
the commission's responsibilities.
A group or association that represents the interests of small
agricultural customers in a proceeding and that would otherwise be
eligible for an award of compensation pursuant to Section 1804
without the presence of large agricultural customers, as determined
by the commission, shall not be deemed ineligible solely because that
group or organization also has members who are large agricultural