On March 23, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) awarded $156,000 in intervenor compensation to the California Housing Partnership Corporation (CHPC), a non-profit corporation created by the California Health & Safety Code.
Pursuant to its statutory mandate to promote the viability of low-cost housing development, CHPC intervened in a CPUC proceeding setting rules by which California’s major energy utilities administered their low-income energy assistance programs. CHPC successfully advocated for provisions that insured that low-income residents of multi-family dwellings were able to benefit from the programs to the greatest extent possible. The proceeding took two years to complete.
Unfortunately, after the proceeding was concluded, the Administrative Law Judge assigned to the matter determined that notwithstanding CHPC’s participation in prior CPUC proceedings, it was ineligible to receive compensation as an intervenor in the latest proceeding. The ALJ was of the view that because CHPC was a statutorily created body, it was presumably the recipient of taxpayer funds and thereby ineligible for intervenor compensation under the Public Utilities Code.
Since CHPC had expended considerable time and resources on the proceeding (and was ultimately deemed to have contributed to its outcome), the determination that CHPC was not eligible to be compensated for its efforts caused great concern.
CHPC sought the Firm’s assistance and the Firm agreed to provide it on a pro bono basis. On March 18, 2016, Tom MacBride and John McIntyre filed a lengthy Motion for Reconsideration of the ALJ’s Ruling, examining the statutory framework and CPUC policies underlying the compensation of intervenors in CPUC proceedings. Eleven months later, the ALJ granted CHPC’s motion. The following month, the CPUC awarded CHPC $156,000 in compensation, 96% of the amount it sought.