CPUC Opens De-Energization Rulemaking

The California Public Utilities Commission has issued a new rulemaking (R.18-12-005) to examine its rules allowing electric utilities under CPUC jurisdiction to de-energize power lines when high winds or other dangerous conditions increase the threat of wildfire.

Under current rules (see Resolution ESRB-8) the electric utilities are authorized to de-energize power lines. However, the CPUC has recognized that proactive de-energization may be used more frequently in the future to prevent catastrophic wildfire ignition, and that de-energization creates risks and hardships for vulnerable customers, first responders, government and local utilities. To develop rules that weigh these competing interests, the CPUC will focus on these issues:

  • Examining conditions in which proactive and planned de-energization is practiced.
  • Developing best practices and ensuring an orderly and effective set of criteria for evaluating de-energization programs.
  • Ensuring electric utilities coordinate with state and local level first responders, and align their systems with the Standardized Emergency Management System framework (SEMS).
  • Mitigating the impact of de-energization on vulnerable populations.
  • Examining whether there are ways to reduce the need for de-energization.
  • Ensuring effective notice to affected stakeholders of possible de-energization and follow-up notice of actual de-energization.
  • Ensuring consistency in notice and reporting of de-energization events.

The CPUC seeks to enhance stakeholder involvement in examining de-energization requirements, and will hold workshops and other outreach around the state to allow input from local communities, first responders and others. Any interested party is invited to file comments and responses to questions raised in the rulemaking by February 4, 2019. A prehearing conference has been scheduled February 6, 2019.

For more information, contact Lynn Haug (lmh(at)eslawfirm.com) or Jed Gibson (jjg(at)eslawfirm.com).