Welcome to the August 2011 edition of the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you'll find information on recent community events, news briefs, and more.


CPUC Visits Lynwood and W. Sacramento to Offer Information on Consumer Programs and Issues

In July, the CPUC participated in a community forum titled, “ENLACES: Helping Our Communities Succeed” in the city of Lynwood in the service area of Southern California Edison (SCE). More than 150 attendees were given information about SCE programs and services. SCE provided information on their General Rate Case and there were four panel discussions that focused on SCE’s economic assistance and discounted rate programs, customer and community programs, and capacity building workshops for nonprofit organizations.  SCE has five additional ENLACES forums schedule from August to December.

Also in July, the CPUC hosted an information table at the Fourth Annual Yolo County Fraud Awareness Fair. Organized by the Yolo County District Attorney’s office, the event filled West Sacramento’s Civic Center Galleria with numerous law enforcement agencies, State and Federal government agencies, and banking and insurance companies and investigators. The CPUC provided information about telephone fraud, energy efficiency, and more.

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News Briefs: CPUC Protects Customer Usage Data, Promotes Alternative-Fueled Vehicles, and Demonstrates Record Growth in Solar Installations

In July, the CPUC created rules to protect the privacy and security of customer usage data generated by Smart Meters, took action to break down barriers for the widespread deployment and use of alternative-fueled vehicles, and issued a report showing that Californians are installing rooftop solar energy systems at a rapid pace.

As part of its efforts to build a Smart Grid for California, the CPUC has created rules to protect the privacy and security of customer usage data generated by Smart Meters. The new rules protect a customer’s privacy by prohibiting any utility or third-party from using or taking meter data for a purpose not having to do with power operations (including demand management and energy efficiency) without a customer’s authorization. So, unless you sign off on giving your data the new rules prevent anyone from taking it for a non-energy purpose.

The CPUC has also furthered efforts to break down barriers for the widespread deployment and use of alternative-fueled vehicles in California by directing electric utilities to collaborate with automakers and other stakeholders to identify where electric vehicle charging will likely occur on their electric systems and plan accordingly. If a utility obtains timely notification that an electric vehicle will be charging in its service territory, the utility can address potential reliability problems, keep infrastructure costs down, and assist, as appropriate, with ensuring that electric vehicle owners have positive experiences with their vehicles.

Lastly, the CPUC issued its California Solar Initiative (CSI) Annual Program Assessment, which showed that the rate at which Californians are installing rooftop solar energy systems to meet their electric demand is growing at a rapid pace. The report showed that the increasing rate of new solar installations and cumulative installed capacity provide evidence that California is well along the path of achieving the goals set forth by Senate Bill 1 in 2006, the legislation that authorized the CSI program.

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CPUC Creates New Risk Assessment Unit

The CPUC has created a new Risk Assessment Unit to research, develop, and propose tools to improve pipeline safety and oversight in the state, and is also augmenting its pipeline inspector team by five.

The CPUC has embarked on a search for a total of nine safety experts - four for its Risk Assessment Unit, and five new pipeline inspectors. The Risk Assessment Unit will lead the way in establishing a new focus on performance, not just following federal rules, in natural gas safety. The Unit will look at best practices throughout the nation and around the world. The new gas inspectors will complete a doubling of the inspector team since the explosion of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company pipeline in San Bruno last year, putting more eyes in the field and boots on the ground. 

The CPUC is also conducting a nationwide search for a new safety expert to lead its Consumer Protection and Safety Division, which includes the Risk Assessment Unit and administers safety oversight of gas and electric utilities; railroads; light rail transit systems and highway/rail crossings; motor carriers of passengers and household goods; and water vessels.

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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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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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