Welcome to this edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you’ll find information on upcoming events, efforts to reduce consumer energy utility disconnections, new CPUC reports and videos, and more.


Taking Advantage of the Growing Green Economy

The California Air Resources Board has developed, and is hosting, a free workshop entitled Taking Advantage of the Growing Green Economy – Real People. Real Solutions. Real Opportunities! in conjunction with the Green California Summit on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at the Sacramento Convention Center.  Join other small business professionals at this interactive workshop dedicated to reducing costs and increasing revenue in the green economy.  You’ll hear other small business owners discuss their real world experiences going green. Sessions will include tactics for cutting operational costs as well as accessing funding.

The focus of this workshop is “Real California Small Businesses” learning from other ”Real California Small Businesses” about what is working, what isn’t working, how their respective businesses have benefited from the actions they’ve taken to green their businesses by reducing energy and fuel use, becoming more efficient, accessing local assistance programs, and selling green products and services.

Because business is slow, the economy is weak. Times like these offer an opportunity to examine your internal operations and future plans so you are ready to go when the economy turns around. Greening your business will help you reduce energy and fuel costs, improve efficiency, and access assistance and funding for green businesses.

If you are interested in attending this event, please contact Jerry Hart at 916-324-5941 or email at ghart@arb.ca.gov.

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CPUC Implements Measures to Address Residential Energy Utility Disconnections

The CPUC, in its ongoing efforts to reduce the number of natural gas and electric utility residential customer disconnections due to nonpayment, has ordered the state’s investor-owned utilities to implement certain interim practices to better assist consumers.

The CPUC ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company to take the following actions:

  • All utility company customer service representatives must inform any customer that owes an arrearage on a utility bill that puts the customer at risk for disconnection, that the customer has the right to arrange for a bill payment plan extending a minimum of three months in which to repay the arrearage. Customers must keep current on their utility bills while repaying the arrearage balance.
  • Once a customer has established credit as a customer of a utility, that utility must not require the customer to pay additional reestablishment of credit deposits with the utility for either slow-payment/no-payment of bills or following a disconnection.

These interim actions are part of a proceeding the CPUC opened in order to address arrearage management and shutoff prevention for residential energy customers by improving customer notification and education.

Parties are invited to comment on the interim practices and to suggest other practices by March 12, 2010, with reply comments due on April 2, 2010. The CPUC intends to have a Proposed Decision on its agenda in June 2010. The CPUC encouraged the utilities and consumer groups to continue their dialogue and efforts to determine best practices and to assess whether the interim practices help meet the CPUC goal of reducing disconnections whenever some other method of bill payment can be arranged.

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CPUC Protects Consumers From Unscrupulous Moving Companies and Passenger Carriers

The CPUC, in its ongoing commitment to consumer protection, has taken a number of actions in the past quarter to protect consumers from illegally operating moving companies and passenger carriers.

The CPUC participated in four multi-agency strike force operations on passenger carriers (limousines, shuttles, tour buses) during the fourth quarter of 2009. These operations, conducted at Los Angeles World Airports (LAX), San Francisco International Airport, and in the Hollywood and San Ysidro areas, were conducted to ensure that companies are properly licensed with CPUC.  In conducting these sting operations, the CPUC worked closely with city officials, local law enforcement, and the California Highway Patrol, among others.

The CPUC also cited 17 companies and levied fines totaling $64,000 against companies violating operating rules, such as not having insurance and utilizing unlicensed sub-carriers.  Further, CPUC staff investigations of unlicensed operations resulted in two moving companies being charged criminally for violating the CPUC’s rules and regulations.

Also during the fourth quarter of 2009, the CPUC cited and fined six northern and southern California moving companies a total of $7,500 for violating operating rules.  The CPUC also had telephone service shut off to an additional five companies and had one company charged criminally for violating operating rules and regulations.

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CPUC Eliminates Flat Rate for PG&E′s Non-Residential Customers to Give Greater Control Over Electricity Bills

The CPUC has adopted new rate structures for commercial, industrial, and agricultural customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) as part of an effort to implement dynamic electricity prices for all California consumers. These rates are designed to reflect the cost of electricity production during periods of high demand. When combined with PG&E’s Smart Meters, these rates will provide an opportunity for customers to lower their bills while improving system reliability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Beginning November 1, 2011, many commercial and industrial customers will begin moving to new Peak Day Pricing rates. Customers on these rates will pay different prices for electricity depending on the time of day. On the few hottest days of the year, prices for electricity used between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. will increase further. However, PG&E will notify customers about these peak days one day in advance, so customers can plan accordingly. All customers who participate in the Peak Day Pricing program will have options to reduce the uncertainty that these rates may cause. For example, customers will have an option that protects them for the first year they are on the new rate if their electricity costs for the year are higher because they are on the Peak Day Pricing rate versus when they were on their old rate structure. Customers can also opt out of the Peak Day Pricing rate anytime within the first year of participation if they feel the rate is not working for them. Customers that choose to stay on the rate can also use conservation efforts or move their usage to other times to limit their exposure to these peak time rates.

The CPUC ordered PG&E to conduct outreach and education activities and measures to ensure that customers are aware of and understand the new rates and options and the CPUC will closely monitor PG&E’s progress.  If you have any questions about this new rate structure and how it impacts your business, please contact your PG&E representative or email/call the CPUC’s Small Business hotline at smallbiz@cpuc.ca.gov or call 800-253-0500.

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New Videos on YouTube

Visit the CPUC’s YouTube page to watch the CPUC’s Executive Director on Comcast Newsmakers discussing the CPUC’s Utility Supplier Diversity program and a March 4, 2010, workshop to help women, minority, and disabled veteran owned businesses become certified so they can be entered in a supplier database that is accessed by participating utilities throughout the State.  In a separate segment, Executive Director Clanon discusses the CPUC’s role and mission.

Also new to the CPUC’s YouTube page are two 30-second Public Service Announcements from Operation Lifesaver that illustrate how distraction leads to danger as multitasking drivers fail to notice that they are approaching highway-rail grade crossings. CPUC volunteers participate in Operation Lifesaver, a public education program first established in 1972 to end collisions, deaths, and injuries at places where roadways cross train tracks, and on railroad rights-of-way.

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CPUC Hosts Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners Meeting and Green Tech Forum

CPUC Commissioner John A. Bohn is the host of this year’s Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners (WCPSC). This year’s theme is Greening the Wild West—It’s More Than You Think.  The conference runs from June 13-16, 2010 at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.

In keeping with California’s reputation of being on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, the 2010 WCPSC will feature a Green Tech Forum, offering Commissioners and utilities hands-on exposure to several pioneering tech companies offering green products and services—everything from the latest Home Area Network device to electric storage and alternative vehicles.

The Green Tech Forum offers the opportunity for organizations to get their products, services, and information in front of state utility commissioners, staff, and utilities at an event focused on their industries. In addition to hosting a booth at the Green Tech Forum, vendors will have the unique opportunity to introduce their products to this group of policymakers and implementers by giving brief remarks during the conference.

If you would like to present and showcase your technology, research, or services at the Green Tech Forum, please submit a 150-word abstract to Stephanie Green at sjg@cpuc.ca.gov by March 22, 2010. You may also call Stephanie at (415) 703-5245 with any questions.

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New Reports Available Online

The CPUC’s 2009 Annual Report is available online.   Also available online is the CPUC’s 1st Quarter 2010 renewable energy report to the Legislature.  For hard copies, please contact the News and Public Information Office at (415) 703-1366 or news@cpuc.ca.gov.

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Visit our Consumer Information Center for more assistance. Consumers with utility complaints can call our Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570.

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© 2010, California Public Utilities Commission. All rights reserved.
March 2010


Produced by the CPUC's News and Public Information Office and Business and Community Outreach, 415-703-1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov
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