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THE YEAR'S WORK-STATISTICAL REPORT.
Tremendous development of California was indicated by the increase of public utility matters handled by the Railroad Commission during the fiscal year, July 1, 1922, to June 30, 1923.
The docket and process division of the secretary's department furnishes evidence that the high records of the post-war years, when the embargo on utility expansion was raised, were exceeded in all departments of the Commission's work in the effort to keep abreast with the demands made upon the Commission by the public.
Although both formal and informal proceedings showed substantial increases over the previous year, the Commission was able to handle the work with fewer hearings. Due to steadily increasing demands upon the Commission for the regulation of both new and old types of utilities, there were a total of 1669 public utility companies filing reports under its jurisdiction during the last fiscal period, as against 1403 the previous year.
The decisions and orders of the Railroad Commission furnish a vital record of the development of California in all lines of public service, and also constitute an authoritative interpretation of the laws of regulation of California utilities in their most advanced and successful application.
FORMAL PROCEEDINGS. Applications and complaints coming before the Commission are classified as either formal or informal. Formal complaints, consisting of those prepared in the regular legal form, and calling for formal action by the Commission, numbered 148, as against 146 for the previous year. Formal applications numbered 1170, as against 1034 during the year preceding. Informal complaints received during the fiscal period reached the large total of 5493, as compared with 4950 the year before.
These informal complaints were divided between the two offices of the Commission as follows: San Francisco office, 2760; Los Angeles office, 2732.
HEARINGS HELD. The total number of hearings held by the Commission during the fiscal year were 1074, as against 1088 the previous year. This was largely due to the increase in the number of matters handled ex parte by the Commission, necessitated by the growing volume of the work. Of these hearings 194 original hearings were held in the courtrooms of the Commission at San Francisco, 230 in the courtrooms at the Los Angeles office, and 284 in other places scattered throughout the entire state. There were, in addition to the foregoing, 229 adjourned hearings, 23 further hearings, and 14 rehearings.
As provided by the Public Utilities Act, under which the Commission functions and draws its chief powers, a single commissioner or examiner of the Commission may hear a matter, or all may sit en banc in important cases, but a majority of the Commission must unite in all decisions. These decisions are reached after full discussion and investigation by members of the Commission and its experts, whose work has proved to be exceedingly valuable and impartial, and the decisions and orders are
In addition to these hearings the Commission held 248 meetings in the office at San Francisco, besides many conferences and informal business sessions.
FORMAL COMPLAINTS. Table No. 1 shows the number of formal complaints filed with the Commission each year since January 1, 1911, the date of the reorganization of the Commission:
TABLE NO. 1.
Formal Complaints Filed with the Railroad Commission During the Fiscal Years Ending
June 30, 1912, to June 30, 1923. January 1, 1911, to June 30, 1912, inclusive.
168 July 1, 1912, to June 30, 1913, inclusive
138 July 1, 1913, to June 30, 1914, inclusive
205 July 1, 1914, to June 30, 1915, inclusive. July 1, 1915, to June 30, 1916, inclusive
115 July 1, 1916, to June 30, 1917, inclusive. July 1, 1917, to June 30, 1918, inclusive
136 July 1, 1918, to June 30, 1919, inclusive.
150 July 1, 1919, to June 30, 1920, inclusive
80 July 1, 1920, to June 30, 1921, inclusive
131 July 1, 1921, to June 30, 1922, inclusive.
146 July 1, 1922, to June 30, 1923, inclusive.
1.48 Formal complaints, segregated as to subject matter and utility, are shown in the following table:
TABLE NO. 2.
FORMAL APPLICATIONS. Formal applications totaled 1170, the largest number ever received in one year by the Commission, and 136 more than were received during the previous fiscal year. The number of formal applications filed with the Commission by years is shown by Table No. 3, as follows:
TABLE NO. 3.
Formal Applications Filed with the Railroad Commission During the Fiscal Years Ending
June 30, 1912, to June 30, 1923.
126 501 583 544 632 632 893 803 1,159 1.009 1,034 1,170
Classified according to subject and utility, the year's applications are grouped in Table No. 4, as follows:
TABLE NO. 4.
DECISIONS. Decisions rendered by the Commission for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1923, numbered 1653, an increase of 209 over the previous fiscal period; or a grand total of 3097 since January 1, 1911.
Decisions rendered each year by the Commission since 1911 are shown in Table No. 5, as follows:
TABLE NO. 5.
Summary of Decisions in Formal Proceedings, January 1, 1911, to June 30, 1923.
97 644 876 915 930 952 1,092
943 1,349 1,376 1,444 1.653
TABLE NO. 6.
Petitions for rehearing filed..
54 21 26 7
ANNUAL REPORTS FILED. The Department of Finance and Accounts reports that during the year ending December 31, 1922, annual reports were received from 1669 public utilities as compared with 1403 for the preceding year. Reports were filed for the first time by 326 utilities, while 60 utilities ceased filing them. Nineteen companies submitted reports concerning hospital
TABLE NO. 7.
Public Utilities Filing Annual Reports with the Railroad Commission of the State of California, for Year Ending
December 31, 1922.
Public Utilities Ceasing to File Annual Reports in 1922.
TABLE NO. 10.
Public Utilities Filing Annual Reports Concerning Hospital Service, December 31, 1922.
11 5 2 1
INFORMAL COMPLAINTS-DISPUTED BILLS.
The Railroad Commission was able to be of direct assistance to thousands of patrons of public utilities through the agency of the informal complaint service, maintained by the various departments of the Commission.
The high water mark in the number of informal complaints received and disposed of was reached during the fiscal period, July 1, 1922, to June 30, 1923. A total of 5493 such complaints was received by all departments. More than 5000 were disposed of through careful and understanding handling by men expert in ascertaining the true status of affairs, and impartial in the administering of them with a maximum of justice, and a minimum of friction between the different parties at issue.
This was an increase of 543 informal complaints over the number received during the preceding fiscal period, when 4950 were received by the Commission. This increase was largely due to the abnormal conditions in southern California, where the phenomenal growth of the population in the last three years has been greater than has ever been recorded in this state, or any other.
The tremendous growth and development of southern California, and especially of Los Angeles, has resulted in a demand for public utility service that has called upon the full resources of all public and municipal utilities to meet it. The telephone system in Los Angeles has virtually been rebuilt and doubled in capacity, with incidental disturbance of existing services, and a constant piling up of complaints of interrupted or delayed installation of service. The same conditions in a lesser degree have prevailed in the gas and electric fields in outlying communities throughout the state, but more especially south of the Tehachapi. The public also has been showing a constantly increasing appreciation of the service rendered by the Railroad Commission in the handling of informal complaints, with the result that the number of persons availing themselves of the service has shown a marked increase.
This has found expression in the grateful acknowledgment of a satisfied complainant, who caused to be published in the press an appreciation of this service, in which he stated that the Railroad Commission is the "big brother of the little consumer," and is constantly on the alert to aid the latter when in need of the assistance of a strong disinterested agency to obtain relief demanded in the case of alleged excessive bills, or failure to obtain desired service.
The informal complaints also serve a useful purpose in keeping the Commission in close touch with the individual patrons of public utilities throughout the state. Many matters are adjusted through this agency which otherwise would entail the expense and delay of a formal proceeding. In the average informal complaint the patron, or would-be patron, has a real or fancied grievance against the utility out of proportion to the importance of the real issue, and it requires tact and careful handling on the part of the Commission and a willingness on the part of the