Energy and Telecommunications Utilities Face CPUC Questions On October Power Shut-Offs

Following on its October 28 announcement of intent to take additional “decisive actions” to investigate and address the impacts of recent Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events, the CPUC has issued several significant new rulings and orders this week:

On November 12 the CPUC issued a Ruling Directing Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to Show Cause why it should not be sanctioned for “failing to properly communicate with its customers, coordinate with local governments, and communicate with Critical Facilities and Public Safety Partners during the October-November 1 PSPS events. Citing PG&E’s own admissions of shortcomings in notification to customers, coordination with local government and critical service providers, and website unavailability during one PSPS event, the order to show cause (OSC) instructs PG&E to appear and explain why it should not be subject to sanctions. A prehearing conference has been scheduled for December 4 at 3:30 pm at the CPUC Auditorium in San Francisco. The schedule will include opportunities for testimony, comments and/or recommendations from impacted parties, including community organizations, local governments, and tribal communities.

On November 13 the CPUC commissioners met in a special voting meeting to consider and approve a new Order Instituting Investigation (I.19-11-013) to determine whether California’s investor-owned utilities prioritized safety and complied with the CPUC’s regulations and requirements with respect to their recent PSPS events. The CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division will investigate and identify areas in which the existing PSPS Protocols or utility actions need to be improved. IOUs will respond to the OII by December 13 and other parties by January 10, 2020.

On November 13 the CPUC also issued a letter to communications industry leaders and a ruling in the Emergency Disaster Relief Program docket (R.18-03-011) setting a prehearing conference to kick off Phase II of the proceeding, which will focus on “having a resilient and dependable communications network that aids first responders and communicates with the public in a timely manner.” The prehearing conference is scheduled for November 20 at 10 am at the CPUC Auditorium in San Francisco. In November 18 responses to the CPUC’s letter, and at the prehearing conference communications providers will respond to questions regarding the failure of wireless, cable and landline services during the latest wildfires and PSPS events, compliance with applicable rules and responsiveness to requests from the Office of Emergency Services and Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

For more information contact Lynn Haug or Samantha Neumyer.