Henry Wood

4 Cal. 3d 288 (1971), 481 P.2d 823

The Court affirmed the Commission order dismissing complaints against PG&E and Pacific Telephone.  The complaints challenged the validity of credit rules already approved by the Commission.  The Court concluded that in adopting such rules, the Commission was acting in a quasi-legislative capacity and that customers of the utilities did not enjoy any particular procedural due process rights with regard to the adoption of the rules by the Commission.  This case is frequently cited for the proposition that the Commission need not offer the traditional trappings of due process (such as a notice and hearing) when acting in a legislative capacity (ratemaking and rulemaking).  At least with respect to ratemaking, however, some question remains.  See Paras. 31 and 53, supra.  Moreover, ratemaking proceedings are now subject to a “substantial evidence” test (Section 1757(a)(4)) that did not exist when Wood was decided.  Finally, even in purely legislative matters such a rulemaking, the Commission’s failure to follow its own rules may lead to annulment.  (See Para. 19.)  But, the core holding in Henry Wood remains significant because it affirms that no constitutionally based “due process” right attaches to quasi-legislative matters which (either before or after SB 960) include ratemaking matters.  Whatever “process” is “due” in those matters is fixed by statute or the Commission’s rules.

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