CPUC Sets Schedule For Revising Rules For Planning And Constructing Power Infrastructure

It has been more than 25 years since the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last reviewed and modified General Order 131-D (GO 131-D), the rules relating to planning and construction of electric generation plant, distribution and transmission lines, and substations. However, on January 1, 2023 Senate Bill 529 went into effect, mandating an update of General Order 131-D to conform to statutory changes affecting when and how utilities are required to obtain CPUC authorization for infrastructure extensions and upgrades.

To implement SB 529 and consider other changes to “better address the needs of the State of California and its residents; be consistent with other applicable laws, policies, and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission orders; and provide a clearer, more efficient, and consistent process” the CPUC has issued a new Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR). According to the Scoping Ruling in that proceeding issued by Assigned Commissioner Karen Douglas this week, the GO 131-D rulemaking will proceed in two phases.

Phase 1 will focus on consideration of what changes to GO 131-D are necessary to conform it to the requirements of SB 529 and to update outdated references. Phase 1 will be expedited to ensure compliance with the statutory, January 2024, implementation deadline, with a proposed decision based on already-submitted OIR comments anticipated in late October 2023.

Phase 2 will focus on all other changes to GO 131-D, including changes proposed in attachments to the Order Instituting Rulemaking, changes proposed by parties in comments, and any additional changes that may be proposed by Commission staff or parties during the course of the proceeding. Addressing some parties’ objections to a broad reexamination of GO 131-D, the Scoping Ruling noted that “there have been significant changes in the physical configuration of the electric grid, the market structure for electricity, and the transmission planning process in California since GO 131-D was adopted”, and that since energy infrastructure projects must be rapidly deployed over the next decade to meet clean energy and reliability objectives, “the time is ripe for a comprehensive examination of the processes set forth in the GO.” Phase 2 proceedings are scheduled to commence in 2024 with issuance of a staff proposal and opportunities for party comments.

Contact: Andy Brown or Lynn Haug.