Welcome to the December edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you’ll find information on Time of Use pricing for agriculture customers, modernization of the California LifeLine program, and more.


Agricultural Customers Prepare For Time of Use Rates

On Monday, December 6, 2010, the CPUC will attend the annual meeting of the California Farm Bureau Federation to discuss and explain the benefits of dynamic pricing. Beginning February 2012, agriculture customers in Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) service area will transition from their current flat rates to time of use (TOU) rates. Under this new TOU pricing structure, a customer will pay more for electricity between the peak energy usage hours of noon to 6 p.m., but pay less during other non-peak times of the day. Since large agriculture customers are already on this rate, the transition to TOU pricing will be for small and medium sized agriculture customers (<200 kW).

Small and medium sized agriculture customers may also participate in Peak Day Pricing (PDP). This is a good option for customers who can reduce or shift energy usage during certain days. Customers who participate in this program will have a higher rate between 50-90 hours of the year in exchange for a lower TOU rate from May to October.

At the Farm Bureau meeting on December 6th, CPUC staff, along with two large California utilities, will answer questions about TOU and PDP.

In January’s eNewsletter we’ll tell you more about TOU pricing and how consumers can benefit.

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PG&E Smart Meters Coming to S.F.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is currently deploying Smart Meters throughout their service territory. The deployment is almost complete with the exception of a few areas. The next area scheduled for installation is San Francisco.

PG&E will also replace its older generation meters that were installed in 2006-7 in Kern County to ensure that the devices and functionalities are comparable to the Smart Meters installed by San Diego Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison for their customers.

The CPUC will ensure that PG&E has trained consumer representatives prepared to respond to customer inquiries regarding Smart Meters. The CPUC also has trained consumer representatives available to speak with those who have questions about Smart Meters.

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CPUC Begins Penalty Consideration Phase of Investigation Into 2008 PG&E Explosion in Rancho Cordova

The CPUC will evaluate charges of unlawful conduct levied against Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) by CPUC investigators concerning a December 24, 2008, PG&E natural gas pipeline explosion in Rancho Cordova, Calif. The CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) concluded that the incident was caused by gas leaking from a September 2006 pipe repair done by PG&E that did not meet federal and state requirements for pipes transporting gas, and which separated from a mechanical coupling and caused a leak. The leaking gas migrated from the main pipeline into a house in Rancho Cordova, which ignited and caused an explosion and fire that destroyed one home, severely damaged two others, and resulted in one death and five injuries.

Based on the findings of its investigation, CPSD asked the CPUC’s Commissioners to vote to open a formal investigation during which an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will hear testimony related to the explosion from CPSD, PG&E, and other parties. Based on the record that will be developed, the ALJ will prepare a Proposed Decision for consideration by the CPUC’s Commissioners, which could include fines and penalties against PG&E, if warranted.

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CPUC Modernizes California LifeLine Program

The CPUC has modernized the California LifeLine Telephone Program in order to better achieve the goals of ensuring that high-quality communication services remain affordable and widely available.

LifeLine provides discounted basic telephone services to eligible California households.

The changes made to the program include:

  • Freezing the current California LifeLine rate at $6.84 for the next two years for most customers.  
  • Expanding the LifeLine program to include data services for consumers who receive wireless equipment through the CPUC’s Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP).
  • Clarifying that wireless, VoIP, and other non-traditional carriers are eligible for reimbursement by LifeLine for providing discounted service to customers. The CPUC will consider implementation changes needed to facilitate participation in LifeLine for non-traditional carriers, including data services for DDTP-eligible consumers, wireless carriers, and other non-traditional carriers.
  • Controlling the amount that non-LifeLine customers pay for the program by, among other things, eliminating extra payments to carriers for administration, bad debt, and to make up for forgone federal support.

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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.
December 2010


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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