Public Records Act - Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who can initiate a Public Records Act Request?

2. What types of records are available?

3. Can I find public records on the CPUC's website?

4. What do I do if I cannot find the records I am looking for on the CPUC's website?

5. How do I file a Public Records Request? 

6. How long will it take to get a response to a Public Records Request?  

7. How will I receive the records I’ve requested? 

8. How long will it take to get copies of the records I’ve requested?  

9.  Are there rules to follow when inspecting documents in person at the CPUC’s headquarters? 

10. Are there copying fees for documents? 
 

1. QUESTION: Who can initiate a Public Records Act Request?

ANSWER: Any member of the public may inspect public records or request copies of public records that are reasonably identified by the requester. The CPUC strongly encourages members of the public to submit Public Records Act requests in writing. A CPUC employee who receives a verbal request for records may ask, but cannot require, the requester to submit the request in writing. If the requester declines to submit a written request, the CPUC employee must document the verbal request and process it in accordance with these guidelines.
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 2. QUESTION: What types of records are available?

ANSWER: Any record that is not exempt from disclosure by state law(s) is available. The CPUC may refuse to disclose any records that are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act. (See Gov. Code, §§ 6254 - 6255).
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3. QUESTION: Can I find public records on the CPUC’s website?

ANSWER: Yes. The CPUC’s website contains many records available to the public without the need for a formal request. The CPUC posts many public records to its website about all the industries it regulates. These records include inspection reports, audit reports, citations issued, records from various proceedings pending before the CPUC and many other records. Please see the CPUC’s webpage regarding how to find records on the CPUC’s website.
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4. QUESTION: What do I do if I cannot find the records I am looking for on the CPUC's website?

ANSWER: You can request the records from the CPUC by filing a Public Records Act Request.
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5. QUESTION: How do I file a Public Records Request?

ANSWER: Click here to file a Public Records Request

Your request should be specific, focused, and sufficiently describe records so that they can be identified, located and retrieved by CPUC staff. Where a request is not specific and focused, CPUC staff will assist you to identify records and information that are responsive to your request or to the purpose of the request, if stated; and provide suggestions for obtaining access to the records or information if such records are not subject to an exemption listed in the Public Records Act. If you have any questions, please contact the CPUC’s Legal Division at public.records@cpuc.ca.gov.
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6. QUESTION: How long will it take to get a response to a Public Records Request?

ANSWER: Under the Public Records Act Request the CPUC has 10 days in which to respond in writing to your request. In extraordinary cases, such as when a request requires review of lots of documents or requires retrieval of documents from other locations, the CPUC may extend this time to respond to you in writing by up to 14 days. In this written response, the CPUC will let you know if records responsive to your request exist, whether any exemptions may apply and when you will be able to review or receive copies of the responsive records.
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7. QUESTION: How will I receive the records I’ve requested?

ANSWER: The CPUC will send you the records electronically, or you can have them mailed to you. Or, you can pick them up or view them at the CPUC’s headquarters at 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco.
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8. QUESTION: How long will it take to get copies of the records I’ve requested?

ANSWER: It depends. CPUC staff work diligently to respond to all Public Record Act requests in a timely fashion. If your request seeks records that are easy to identify, locate and review, the CPUC should be able to make the records that are not exempt from disclosure available to you relatively quickly. However if your request asks for a lot of documents or requires CPUC staff to review a lot of documents to find the ones that are responsive to your request, then it can take awhile to receive the records that are not exempt from disclosure. In such cases, the CPUC will send you the requested non-exempt records as quickly as its resources allow.
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9. QUESTION: Are there rules to follow when inspecting documents in person at the CPUC’s headquarters?

ANSWER: CPUC operations will not be suspended to permit inspection of records at a time when those records are in use by CPUC staff. If the request requires review of numerous records, a mutually agreeable time will be established for the inspection of the records. Public records maintained by the CPUC will be available for inspection during the regular business hours of the CPUC. You will not be able to scan documents to your laptop when viewing documents in person. Upon either the completion of the inspection or the oral request of CPUC staff, the person conducting the inspection will return the records to the CPUC. Persons inspecting CPUC records must not destroy, mutilate, deface, alter, or remove the records from the CPUC. The CPUC reserves the right to have CPUC staff present during the inspection of records in order to prevent the loss or destruction of records.
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10. QUESTION: Are there copying fees for documents?

ANSWER: Upon any request for a copy of records, other than records the CPUC has determined to be exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act, CPUC staff will provide copies of the records to any person after payment of a fee of: 1) 10 cents per page for standard documents; 2) actual costs for reproducing oversize documents or documents requiring special processing; 3) actual postage charges; and 4) actual costs, if any, for retrieval and return of records held offsite in archives. Public Utilities Code § 1903 requires the CPUC to set copy fees. The CPUC’s fees are similar to witness fees in Evidence Code § 1563, and reflect the direct cost of duplicating and providing records, or portions of records, that are not exempt from disclosure. The CPUC may waive fees as appropriate. Copies will be provided as promptly as practical. Extensive and complex copy requests may take longer to process than simple ones.

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