CPIL's Executive Director Robert Fellmeth Quoted in Los Angeles Daily Journal Article on Federal Judge's Authority over PG&E

CPIL's Executive Director Robert Fellmeth Quoted in Los Angeles Daily Journal Article on Federal Judge's Authority over PG&E

SAN DIEGO (January 29, 2019) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Center for Public Interest Law’s (CPIL) Executive Director Robert C Fellmeth was quoted in an article published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal this week.

The article focuses on the recent probation modifications issued by the federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s probation.  According to federal regulators Judge Alsup has “profound authority” to require the utility to make changes despite its objections.

“Since PG&E pled to a felony offense, Alsup has extreme and broad powers over its operations,” said USD School of Law Professor Robert Fellmeth.  “For PG&E to say he doesn’t is nonsense.”

According to the article PG&E argues, the judge’s proposed modifications, which include whether PG&E would de-energize power lines and how it would perform maintenance and modification to the vegetation management program, should be addresses by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has authority over the transmission lines, and the California Public Utilities Commission, which has authority of the distribution lines.

Robert Fellmeth, executive director at CPIL, went on to explain “FERC has the authority to help determine how PG&E will pay for improvements to its transmission lines and possibly even how it is done but not whether Alsup has the authority to force those changes.  He is absolutely in his jurisdiction to say ‘In order to comply with probation and prevent further criminal acts, you have to do the following:’.”

A hearing is scheduled to consider the probation modifications for January 30, 2019. (U.S. v. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., 14-CR175 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 1, 2014)


About Center for Public Interest Law

Founded in 1980, the University of San Diego School of Law’s Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) serves as an academic center of research and advocacy in regulatory and public interest law. CPIL focuses its efforts on the study of an extremely powerful, yet often overlooked, level of government: state regulatory agencies. Under the supervision of experienced public interest attorneys and advocates, CPIL law student interns study California agencies that regulate business, professions, and trades.

CPIL publishes the California Regulatory Law Reporter, a unique legal journal that covers the activities and decisions of over 12 major California regulatory agencies.

In addition to its academic program, CPIL has an advocacy component. Center faculty, professional staff, and interns represent the interests of the unorganized and underrepresented in California’s legislature, courts, and regulatory agencies. CPIL attempts to make the regulatory functions of California government more efficient and visible by serving as a public monitor of state regulatory activity. The Center has been particularly active in reforming the state’s professional discipline systems for attorneys and physicians, and in advocating public interest reforms to the state’s open meetings and public records statutes.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world.  The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates.  The law school's faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 36th nationally among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 29th nationally in past-year faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.


Robert C. Fellmeth

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