Public Utility Code Section 1803 Was Involved, With Appellate Court Determining Its Scope.
In New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC v. Public Utilities Comm. of California, Case No. A144005 (1st Dist., Div. 4 Apr. 19, 2016) (published), the Public Utilities Commission of California (CPUC) awarded fees and costs to two intervenors under Public Utility Code sections 1802-1803 for their work in a complex telecommunications merger review proceeding dismissed by the CPUC as moot for reasons unrelated to anything that happened in the proceeding itself. One of the merger proponents group challenged the fee award under section 1803, which allowed the CPUC to award reasonable advocate’s fees, expert witness fees, and routine costs to any customer who makes a “substantial contribution of the adoption, in whole or in part, of the commission’s order or decision.”
The appellate court denied the writ challenges because it believed that the intervenors were eligible for intervenor compensation because the CPUC did decide to adopt some position being advocated by the intervenors—construing the “order or decision” language despite the subsequent mootness developments. However, based on the reasoning used by the CPUC to get to its award, the reviewing court remanded for a relook based on the guidance in reasoning it provided. This one is must reading for intervenors or objectors to awards in this narrow area of the law.