In this edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter you’ll learn about our upcoming events, our latest news, how to have a CPUC speaker come to your community gathering, and more!

 
 

Meet the CPUC’s Business and Community Outreach Group

The CPUC’s Business and Community Outreach group works with Community Based Organizations, local government groups, businesses, and direct service providers to raise awareness of the CPUC’s consumer programs.  Additionally, this group promotes the CPUC’s policies of energy and water conservation and efficiency.

This newly formed group works to ensure that the CPUC’s policies are effectively implemented and also raises awareness of consumer programs.  The group consists of four Outreach Officers who are assigned to cover specific areas in the state.  Our Outreach Officers work with community leaders to help promote consumer assistance programs such as CARE, FERA, Low Income Energy Efficiency, and California LifeLine.  The Outreach Officers work to ensure that consumers who qualify for these programs have the information they need in order to enroll.  If your organization is interested in having one of our Outreach Officers give a presentation on consumer programs, please contact Marzia Zafar at zaf@cpuc.ca.gov

If you are a business and want more information on how to become more energy efficient and/or how the new and existing regulatory policies will impact your bottom line, please contact the Business and Community Outreach group (zaf@cpuc.ca.gov) to get specific information tailored to meet your needs.

In addition to meeting with community groups and businesses, the CPUC Outreach Officers also speak at conferences throughout the state.  In July those conferences included California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass’ (D-Los Angeles) Green Jobs in Energy Efficiency Job Fair, the California American Indian Chamber of Commerce Expo, and the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce 2009 Business Resource Expo sponsored by California Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara).

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Supporting Small Businesses in California

In these tough economic times, the CPUC is continuing its commitment to improving contracting opportunities for small businesses, as they are the backbone of our economy and will contribute to our recovery.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order S-02-06 (signed March 29, 2006) recognizes that it is difficult for small businesses to find opportunities and new clients.  It requires all state agencies to award 25 percent of their annual contracting dollars to small businesses and three percent to Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE) based in California. A small business is defined as a business based in California with less than 100 employees and gross receipts of $12 million or less over the previous three tax years. For certification purposes, a “disabled veteran” is a veteran of the U.S. Military, naval, or air service; and has a service connected disability of at least 10 percent as declared by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to the 25 percent small business goal, most state agencies are required to have a dedicated small business advocate who coordinates the small business procurement process. Advocates strive to ensure that their agency meets the state’s 25 percent goal.  At the CPUC, not only do we regulate investor-owned energy, communications, transportation, and water utilities, but we are also committed to serving the needs of the small business community. Our Small Business Program ensures that we award contracts to small businesses.  We reach out to small business owners at procurement fairs and expos, and also provide education and legislative/policy advocacy. 

If your business offers a service or a product that a state agency may need, you should consider bidding for a contract. Contracts vary widely in size from less than $5,000 to multi-million dollar contracts. If you decide to pursue business opportunities with the state, make sure you are certified as a Small Business or a DVBE.  Certification is free and provides valuable benefits.  Small Business or DVBE Certification can afford you a five percent bid preference on state contracts. To get certified as a Small Business or DVBE, visit the California Department of General Services’ website or call 916-375-4940. Online certification is simple and takes only a few minutes.

CPUC-regulated utilities, which conduct millions of dollars of business in California every year, represent another significant area of opportunity for small businesses. The utilities continue to have contracting needs even during difficult economic times, as they must provide their essential services to consumers. The utilities’ procurement needs are widely varied.  For example, utilities must procure contracts for construction services, janitorial services, power tools, weed abatement, landscaping, pest control, hauling, furniture, as well as many other areas.  In particular, there are certain sectors such as green building, renewable energy, and solar installation that are rapidly expanding in California.  The state’s utilities include Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, Sempra Energy Utilities (San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Gas), California Water Association, Verizon, and AT&T.

If you qualify as a woman or a minority owned firm under CPUC General Order 156, there is another program that may benefit you. The utilities aim to conduct five percent of all purchases/contracts with women-owned businesses and 15 percent of their procurement with minority owned businesses.  If you think you may qualify as a woman or minority owned business, visit www.asianinc.org or call 1-800-359-7998 to get certified.

Even in this economic downturn, there are many opportunities for small businesses. 

Please check the CPUC website, contact other state agencies, and get in touch with the utilities for opportunities.  Good Luck!

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CPUC Updates Service Quality Requirements for Telecommunications Companies

The CPUC updated its General Order regarding service quality reporting in order to streamline the process yet ensure that telecommunications carriers provide relevant information for the CPUC to protect consumers and the public interest.

The new General Order 133-C now has a reduced set of service quality measures and eliminates outdated reporting measures dating from the monopoly telephone era. The updated order contains reporting measures that were proposed during the CPUC’s proceeding to capture the most important areas of customer concern. This includes issues such as the time it takes carriers to install and repair service; the ability of customers to have their inquiries addressed promptly; and notification when a carrier is experiencing phone service outages. Read more in our press release.

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Broadband Comes to Mother Lode

The CPUC, in its ongoing efforts to help bridge the Digital Divide in the state, approved funding of more than $2.7 million to the Mother Lode Broadband project to bring high-speed Internet broadband for the first time to 14,629 unserved households in the Mother Lode region of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties. The CPUC also set a new schedule for broadband project requests for California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grants when the applicant is also applying for economic stimulus money for broadband projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Mother Lode project plans to leverage local broadband provider experience, support, and presence by expanding a network of fixed wireless broadband services. The project will provide expanded backhaul to a regional network of primarily existing main towers linked via high capacity licensed spectrum, which will feed a network of repeater towers focused to deliver broadband to these unserved areas. The Mother Lode Broadband project will provide broadband service at an average speed of up to 14 mega bits per second (mbps) for both download and upload. Mother Lode plans to complete its project within approximately 20 months.

Separately, the CPUC approved a new schedule and plan for filing, review, and approval of an additional round of broadband project requests under the CASF program, where the applicant is also seeking a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) or Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for broadband funds from the economic stimulus law. The new schedule was adopted so that CASF applicants could obtain up to 10 percent matching funds towards the project cost if they are applying to the NTIA or RUS for broadband grants under the ARRA, the federal government's recently enacted economic stimulus plan. As a key part of its program for economic stimulus, ARRA appropriates $7.2 billion for grants and loans to support broadband deployment on a national level. The CPUC has urged broadband companies to apply for broadband projects for California that meet the ARRA definition of “unserved” and “underserved”. Read more in our press release.

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State Continues on Path Toward Renewable Energy Goal

The CPUC issued its Quarterly Report on the progress of the state’s renewable energy program. The report discusses how more renewable energy generation came online in 2008 than in the entire 2003 - 2007 time period. It is forecasted that new installed capacity in 2009 will exceed the amount that came online in 2008.

California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country.  Established in 2002 under Senate Bill 1078 and accelerated in 2006 under Senate Bill 107, California’s RPS obligates investor-owned utilities (IOUs), electric service providers (ESPs), and community choice aggregators (CCAs) regulated by the CPUC to procure an additional 1 percent of retail sales per year from eligible renewable sources until 20 percent is reached, no later than 2010. Governor Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order S-14-08 (signed November 17, 2008) established a further goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.

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Save the Dates

On August 27, 2009, from 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. in the CPUC’s auditorium, please join us for a free international panel discussion on feed-in tariffs (also known as “renewable energy payments”). Learn what it means for California’s homeowners, businesses, renewable energy developers, utilities, and the environment. More information, including remote access and registration, is available on our website.

Don’t miss the CPUC’s annual diversity public hearing on Nov. 2, 2009: Celebrating Diversity in GOING GREEN, California’s New Gold Rush

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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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© 2009, California Public Utilities Commission. All rights reserved.
August 2009

 



Produced by the CPUC's News and Public Information Office and Business and Community Outreach, 415-703-1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.
 

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