Welcome to the first edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) e-newsletter.  We hope you find this newsletter helpful in learning about what's happening at the CPUC and how we can be of assistance to you!

The CPUC visits communities throughout California to raise awareness about our programs and policies and to hear about issues affecting consumers.

CPUC in the Community

The CPUC promotes and supports the Governor’s Executive Order that State agencies should procure at least 25 percent of their goods and services from the backbone of our economy, the small business community. We also want to ensure that this community has a voice at the CPUC. To that end we work with the many Chambers of Commerce throughout the State to ensure that regulation takes into account the small business community.  During May we met with the Executive Directors of the Inland Empire Chamber of Commerce, the Redlands Chamber of Commerce, the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce. The meetings gave CPUC staff an opportunity to highlight our Small Business Program and discuss ways that the CPUC and Chambers can partner on education and outreach to benefit the small business community.  Through our Small Business Program we utilize the Chambers as a resource and a voice of the small business community.  In addition to individual meetings with various Chambers, the CPUC Small Business Program attended the Riverside Small Business Fair on May 12th. The event was sponsored by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, the City of Riverside, and the Press-Enterprise newspaper. It was attended by over 200 existing and potential small business owners.  The event’s resource expo featured 48 exhibitors. The CPUC exhibit was visited by 70 business owners. CPUC staff explained our Small Business Program and highlighted State procurement opportunities.  The event featured six workshops: Smart Marketing on a Shoestring Budget, Financing Strategies for Small Businesses, Doing Business with Government Agencies, Organization Management and Leadership Skills, Do’s and Don’ts of Layoffs, and Cutting Costs and Negotiating with Creditors.

Also in May, we were an exhibitor at the Carson Business Energy Expo. The purpose of the Expo was to help businesses and institutions save money by conserving energy and water. Some of the agencies participating were South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Gas Co., Southern California Edison, South Bay Environmental Services Center, South Bay Economic Development Partnership, and the City of Carson. As an exhibitor, we discussed energy and water conservation and promoted our Small Business and Supplier Diversity programs.

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Senior Awareness Campaign

Senior citizens can be a vulnerable group targeted by unscrupulous people or businesses.  To that end, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) attempts to raise awareness about various scams that are aimed at the senior community. These events, often referred to as Senior Scam Stopper, are held throughout the State to raise awareness and caution against fraud.  The CPUC, in concert with the CSLB, held Senior Scam Stopper events in Santa Cruz and Monterey during May.  Both events were sponsored by State Assemblymember Bill Monning (27th District).  More than 100 seniors attended the events.  The Monterey event was also aired on a local cable access channel for those who were unable to attend in person.  In addition to providing information about construction-related scams and how seniors can protect themselves when hiring a contractor, the seminars featured expert speakers from many local, State, and Federal agencies who presented broader topics, including identity theft, auto repair, and investments.  The CPUC Business and Community Outreach team participates in Senior Scam Stopper events to explain how seniors can qualify for programs to lower their utility bills (such as CARE, LifeLine, FERA, and Medical Baseline).  Our team also presents information on how to prevent telecommunication fraud (such as slamming and cramming).  In addition to working closely with CSLB, the CPUC holds its own senior events.  During the month of May we held events in Dana Point, San Diego, Hawthorne, and San Francisco’s Chinatown district. Each event averaged more than 40 attendees eager to learn about programs that could lower utility bills. We also received feedback about the proposed LifeLine changes and about the DTV transition.  Our Outreach Officers provided the seniors with information to ensure that they are informed of these and other issues.

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The CPUC is seeking applications for its Public Policy Payphone Program, which provides for placement of Public Policy Payphones in the State and covers 50 percent of their monthly recurring charges.

CPUC Speaker Series

The CPUC is hosting, “Thought Leaders in Essential Industries,” an ongoing guest speaker series designed to stimulate thought and discussion of some of the most pressing challenges facing California utility regulators and the private sector industries impacted by State policies. Leading experts from around the country will take center stage to offer their expertise and vision in areas such as communications, energy, water, transportation, the environment, green jobs, and more.

Coming up on June 10, 2009, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: a panel moderated by CPUC Senior Policy Analyst, Kristin Ralff-Douglas to discuss:
Why is clean energy a smart economic stimulus?
How is California a model for other states in energy efficiency?
How will energy efficiency create jobs in California?

  • F. Noel Perry, Founder of  Next 10 and Creator of  the 2009 California Green Innovation Index
  • Tracey Grose, Vice President for Research and Strategic Development for Collaborative Economics, Inc.
  • David Roland-Holst, Ph.D. Economics, Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley and author of three books and 100 articles

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Smart Grid Workshops (June 5th & 26th)

The CPUC initiated a Smart Grid proceeding (Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR)) to consider setting policies, standards, and protocols to guide the development of a Smart Grid system and facilitate integration of new technologies such as distributed generation, storage, demand-side technologies, and electric vehicles. There will be five workshops to help the CPUC develop a framework that permits it to develop forward looking regulatory policies and address the questions raised by the commenting parties. 

June 5th - Workshop 2:  Delivery System with Emphasis on Distribution
This workshop will focus on Smart Grid issues most relevant at the distribution level.  Issues will include:

  • The integration of distributed energy resources, including generation and storage into the distribution system;
  • Extending situational awareness from the transmission system into the distribution system;
  • Distribution automation;
  • Increasing the efficiency of the distribution system; and
  • Cyber-security issues to protect the utility’s systems and facilities.

June 26th - Workshop 3:  Delivery System with Emphasis on Transmission
The third workshop will focus on Smart Grid issues that arise at the transmission level, such as cyber security, wide-area situational awareness, and interoperability. The workshop will identify ways modernizing the transmission system can further important policy goals and consider appropriate policies, including metrics.  As operators of the bulk transmission grid, the California Independent System Operator will be a key participant in this workshop.  Although the second workshop will focus on the distribution system and the third will focus on the transmission system, Smart Grid issues related to transmission and distribution overlap.  Participants should note that this proceeding will not try to make a bright line distinction between the two workshops.  Topics of relevance to both parts of the grid may be covered at each of these workshops. Please note that we will not be considering certain transmission issues related to renewable energy, which are the subject of other CPUC proceedings (Rulemaking 08-03-009/Investigation 08-03-010).

The first workshop took place in May and covered consumer issues.  If you would like additional information on the first workshop, please contact us.  The remaining two workshops will take place in July and the information will be in our 2nd e-newsletter edition.

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Outreach Officers

The CPUC has four Outreach Officers dedicated to promoting our programs to all consumers throughout the State.  These Officers also educate and inform the public about various regulatory policies.

  1. San Diego and Orange Counties: John Morgan, (949) 364-5418
  2. City and County of Los Angeles: John Roldan, (213) 576-7058
  3. Inland Empire: Sandy Windbigler, (909) 864-2290
  4. San Joaquin County: Drew Cheney, (916) 956-8103

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

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