California utility companies avoid crackdown on ad spending and mishandling of funds

California lawmakers struck down a proposal on Monday that would have further regulated how utility companies spend money in the state.

According to consumer groups, utility companies are exploiting loopholes in rules surrounding illicit spending on advertising and lobbying with customer money. The new legislation would have worked toward closing those loopholes and levying fines on violators.

“We’ve seen too many examples of the blatant misuse of ratepayer funds across the state,” said Democratic state Sen. Dave Min, who authored the bill that failed to pass on Monday. “I know that consumers are outraged by this.”

Utility companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric Company fiercely opposed the bill because it would “take away the power of state regulators to examine utility companies’ costs and decide whether it is ‘just or reasonable’ for customers to
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