On August 14, 2015 California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Rafael Lirag extended the deadline for public comment in the CPUC Confidentiality/Public Records Act rulemaking proceeding. This proceeding will have a major impact on record submitters (utilities), public advocates, and news agencies alike by dictating how, and which, documents will remain confidential when submitted in CPUC proceedings.

Prior to the recent ruling, CPUC President Michael Picker put forth a Scoping Memo which focuses the proceeding on the following issues: (1) are documents submitted to the Commission subject to disclosure unless deemed exempt from disclosure by the PRA or other law?; (2) Is the proposed GO 66-D lawful and appropriate?; (3) does the proposed GO 66-D comport with §583 of the Public Utilities Code?; (4) should the Commission provide notice to submitters that their documents are to be disclosed?; (5) is the procedure for resolving public records requests adequate?; (6) should there be a fee waiver?; (7) what is the effect of the proposed GO 66-D on documents already submitted to the Commission?; and (8) does the proposed GO 66-D improve public access to public records?

In connection with the Scoping Memo, a Draft Proposal was put forth offering a legal framework, process for submission of confidential information, process for handling Public Records Act requests, and designation of types of documents that are confidential/not confidential. Among the many important changes in the Draft Proposal is the provision requiring record submitters (utilities) to respond to CPUC data requests in no more than ten (10) days. Additionally, the Draft Proposal addresses the creation of categories of documents for different industries that are presumptively confidential or not confidential that may help streamline the CPUC staff’s and record submitters’ tasks when there is a Public Records Act request.

Initial comments on the Draft Proposal are due September 11, 2015, kicking off what’s sure to be a lively debate on the future of confidentiality at the CPUC.