Welcome to the November 2013 edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you’ll find news on upcoming events, CPUC programs, enhancements to public safety, and more!

 
 

CPUC Hosts Nov. 7th Public Hearing on Supplier Diversity

The CPUC, in its ongoing efforts to promote diversity in utility company practices, will hold its 11th annual public hearing on Nov. 7, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. to examine the diversity programs of the state’s regulated utilities, discuss the CPUC’s own commitment to diversity, and hear from community based organizations and other interested parties who will share their views on creating supplier diversity programs entrenched in economic development and job creation for the 21st century and beyond.

Hosted by CPUC President Michael R. Peevey, this year’s theme is “General Order 156 – Supplier Diversity Growing to New Heights” and will take place at the Mission Bay Conference Center, 1675 Owens St., San Francisco.

The CPUC’s Commissioners will be joined by the Hon. Gwen Moore, executives of investor-owned utilities, and others to review the progress, commitments, and initiatives made to increase the participation of women, minorities, and disabled veterans-owned business enterprises in procurement by regulated utilities and other entities. Representatives of industry, government, academia, labor, community-based organizations, and other interested parties are expected to attend the hearing. Members of the public are invited to attend; a public comment session will be held.

The morning address will be delivered by Dr. Jake Beniflah, Executive Director of the Center for Multicultural Science. The keynote address will be delivered by Stuart Ishimaru, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

If you plan to attend and need specialized accommodations, please contact the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at least five business days in advance of the meeting at CPUC Public Advisor, 505 Van Ness Ave., Room 2103, San Francisco, CA 94102 or call 1-866-849-8390 or 1-415-703-2074; or via email.

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CPUC Provides Helpful Information to Attendees of San Jose Health Forum

On October 19, 2013, the CPUC attended a free health fair and forum hosted by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) at the Mayfair Community Center in San Jose.
 
Approximately 15 organizations representing city, county, state, non-profit, and healthcare agencies provided informational tables equipped with community resources.

The CPUC provided information on consumer programs, e-subscriptions, small business and utility supplier diversity programs, medical baseline, state and federal LifeLine programs, phone scams, powerline safety, energy and water conservation tips, and how to contact the CPUC.

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CPUC Establishes Rules for Transportation Network Companies

The CPUC has taken action to ensure that public safety is not compromised by the operation of transportation services that use an online-enabled platform to connect passengers with drivers who use their personal, non-commercial vehicles.

The CPUC determined that companies such as Lyft, SideCar, and UberX are charter party passenger carriers subject to CPUC jurisdiction. The CPUC created the category of Transportation Network Company (TNC) to apply to companies that provide prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application (app) or platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles.

The CPUC established 28 rules and regulations for TNCs. The rules include the requirements that TNCs must:

  • Obtain a license from the CPUC to operate in California; Require each driver to undergo a criminal background check;
  • Establish a driver training program
  •  Implement a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol;
  • Hold a commercial liability insurance policy that is more stringent than the CPUC’s current requirement for limousines, requiring a minimum of $1 million per-incident coverage for incidents involving TNC vehicles and drivers in transit to or during a TNC trip, regardless of whether personal insurance allows for coverage; and,
  • Conduct a 19-point car inspection.

A second phase of the CPUC’s proceeding will review the CPUC’s existing regulations over limousines and other charter party carriers to ensure that public safety rules are up to date and responsive to the needs of today’s transportation market.

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CPUC Enhances Safety; Issues $51.5 Million in Penalties and Remediation Against SCE and NextG For Malibu Canyon Fire

In September the CPUC approved settlement agreements totaling $51.5 million with Southern California Edison (SCE) and NextG Networks to resolve all issues regarding the October 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire and to significantly enhance public safety.

The Malibu Canyon Fire occurred when three utility poles fell to the ground during a Santa Ana windstorm in October 2007. The settlement agreements approved today not only penalize SCE and NextG for wrongdoing as a deterrent to future violations, but also increase public safety by requiring the inspection of 61,453 poles for compliance with CPUC safety rules, repair or replacement of poles found in violation, and more stringent safety requirements for poles in Malibu.

Under the $37 million settlement approved between SCE and the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division (SED), SCE admits that a pole was overloaded in violation of CPUC rules due to the facilities that were attached to the pole by another utility. SCE also admits that it violated Public Utilities Code when it failed to take prompt action to prevent the pole overloading. SCE further admits that it violated Rule 1.1 of the CPUC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure when SCE withheld pertinent information from the CPUC. SCE will pay, in shareholder funds, a fine of $20 million to California’s General Fund. SCE will also pay $17 million in shareholder funds to assess 1,453 utility poles in the Malibu area to be certain they meet the CPUC’s regulations. Substandard poles found by the assessment will be remediated. The settlement requires that all line elements in Malibu Canyon have a wind-load safety factor of at least 4, the most stringent requirement under CPUC regulations, which will help mitigate any repeat of the damage caused by the 2007 fire to Malibu Canyon and the surrounding communities.

The CPUC also approved a settlement agreement between SED and NextG Networks under which NextG admits that a pole was overloaded in violation of CPUC rules. NextG will pay $14.5 million, of which $8.5 million is a fine to California’s General Fund. The remaining $6 million will be used to conduct a safety audit of all of NextG’s poles and pole attachments in California, totaling nearly 60,000 utility poles. Any money that remains after the safety audit is complete will be paid to California’s General Fund. Conversely, if $6 million is not sufficient to complete the audit, NextG will provide additional funds to finish the audit. The $6 million provided for the safety audit will not pay for remedial work on substandard facilities found by the audit. The costs for remedial work will be in addition to the $14.5 million that NextG is required to pay under the settlement agreement.

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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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© 2013, California Public Utilities Commission. All rights reserved.
November 2013

 



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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