Senior California Public Utilities Commission Official Claims Whistleblower Retaliation

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) placed its executive director, Alice Stebbins, on leave, and she in danger of being fired. She claims that this is an act of whistleblower retaliation, according to an August 5 KQED article.

In a letter to the five commissioners that oversee CPUC, which regulates utility companies that provide Californians with “electricity, gas, water, phone, and transportation services,” Stebbins writes that she has been “retaliated against for trying to ‘clean up a broken CPUC.’”

When staff members informed Stebbins of $200 million in fees that CPUC had not collected and date back almost 20 years, “she raised the issue to the commissioners, but they hardly reacted.” She claims that her recent placement on administrative leave is retaliation for her urging of the CPUC to address the fees. However, the CPUC President, Marybel Batjer, says Stebbins “may be ousted because of ethical concerns over several hires that she allowed.”

“The fox should not be guarding the henhouse and, to put it simply, it appears to us that the threatened termination of Ms. Stebbins’ employment results not from anything she or her staff did wrong but because they were trying to hold regulated entities accountable,” Stebbins’ writes in her letter. Her lawyer says the commission members are to “consider Stebbins’ dismissal at a meeting next Thursday.

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