The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regulates services and utilities, assuring Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. Among these essential services are electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, and drinking water. The Utility Supplier Diversity Program is implemented through General Order 156 (GO156) established by the CPUC in response to California Assembly Bill 3638 written into law in 1983.
Originally, the CPUC program did not include water utilities; however, they joined the program voluntarily in 2005 after executing a Memorandum of Intent with the CPUC. California Assembly Bill 873 signed into law in 2009 required commission-regulated water utilities to fully participate in the GO156 program.
The CPUC monitors the procurement and contracting activities of the 33 participating utilities and oversees a clearinghouse of women-, minority-, disabled veteran-, and lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender (LGBT)-owned business enterprises (WMDVLGBTBE).
The clearinghouse operator verifies the status of firms seeking certification as women-, minority- and/or LGBT-owned businesses. Disabled veteran-owned businesses are certified by the Office of Small Business & Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Services (OSDS), a unit of the Department of General Services.
In addition to establishing and overseeing a database of WMDVLGBTBEs that is accessible to the CPUC and participating utilities, the Clearinghouse operator has the responsibility for administering and maintaining the certification process for WMLGBTBEs on behalf of participating utilities. The CPUC’s goal for participating utilities is to provide maximum practical opportunities for diverse business to participate in the utilities’ procurement and contracting activities. Specifically, the procurement goals are as follows:
- 15 percent with Minority Business Enterprises (MBE)
- 5 percent with Women Business Enterprises (WBE)
- 1.5 percent with Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE)
- 1 percent with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Business Enterprises (LGBTBE)
*The goal increases to 1.5% in 2024.
- 0 percent with Persons with Disabilities (PDBE)
*The CPUC did not adopt a voluntary procurement goal with this decision. Instead, the decision allows for the collection of data, with an expectation that voluntary procurement goals for Persons with Disabilities business enterprises will be added in approximately three years.
Participating utilities are required to comply with California Public Utilities Code Sections 8281-8286.