- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California’s state auditor says utility regulators are not doing enough to protect ratepayers from possible unfair hikes to gas and electric bills.

Auditor Elaine Howle did not say Tuesday if ratepayers were overcharged or undercharged due to the California Public Utilities Commission’s shoddy oversight of the “balancing accounts” for the state’s three largest utilities.

But Howle says the commission only reviewed 58 percent of the value of those utilities’ balancing accounts, and never looked at other accounts worth $37.6 billion from 2009 through 2011.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric set up the accounts to track revenues and spending on major projects. They are meant to ensure ratepayers pay only what the CPUC authorizes.

The commission largely agreed with the audit’s findings and pledged to make some structural changes.

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