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Staff Issue Rate Case Manual

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Staff Issue Rate Case Manual

 

Our Policy and Planning Division has issued a training manual for how utility General Rate Cases are processed and what such cases mean in terms of utility regulation.

 

A General Rate Case is the single most important case for a utility and a regulator since it establishes the revenue from customers to provide safe and reliable service at just and reasonable rates (cost). An effective regulator has to find the balance between what's really needed to maintain safe and reliable service and what's gold-plating. In other words, an effective regulator has to choose the appropriate quality of service, avoid wasted costs, and set reasonable rates to recover the prudent costs. The manual offers a more detailed explanation of how a General Rate Case works.

Proposal Issued on New Fire-Safety Regulations

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Proposal Issued on New Fire-Safety Regulations

 

The CPUC has adopted dozens of new regulations over the past several years designed to help protect the public from potential fire hazards associated with overhead power-line facilities and nearby aerial communication facilities.  We continued that effort today with a proposal (called a Proposed Decision) in our fire-safety proceeding that adopts new fire-safety regulations, including a new High Fire-Threat District where stricter fire-safety regulations will apply. 

 

Parties to the proceeding (number R.15-05-006) have the opportunity to file comments on the proposal before our Commissioners vote on the matter.  The first opportunity for that is at our December 14, 2017, Voting Meeting in San Francisco.

 

Under the Proposed Decision, the High Fire-Threat District will consist of three areas:

  1. The Tier 1 High Hazard Zones on the U.S. Forest Service-California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) joint map of Tree Mortality High Hazard Zones
  2. Tier 2 of the CPUC Fire-Threat Map where there is an elevated risk for utility-associated wildfires
  3. Tier 3 of the CPUC Fire-Threat Map where there is an extreme risk for utility-associated wildfires

 

A final draft of the CPUC Fire-Threat Map is currently being reviewed by a team of independent experts and is scheduled to be filed at the CPUC by November 17, 2017.  Following review and comments by interested parties, the CPUC is scheduled to adopt the CPUC Fire-Threat Map in early 2018. 

 

The Proposed Decision issued today further adopts the following fire-safety regulations:

  • Electric utilities must:
  • Prioritize correction of safety hazards based, in part, on whether the safety hazard is located in the High Fire-Threat District.
  • Correct non-immediate fire risks in Tier 2 of the High Fire-Threat District within 12 months, and in Tier 3 within 6 months.
  • Maintain increased clearances between vegetation and power lines throughout the High Fire-Threat District.
  • Maintain more stringent wire-to-wire clearances for new and reconstructed facilities in Tier 3.
  • Conduct annual patrol inspections of their overhead distribution facilities in rural areas of Tier 2 and Tier 3.
  • Prepare a fire-prevention plan annually if they have overhead facilities in the High Fire-Threat District.
 
  • Electric utilities may disconnect service to customers who refuse to provide access to their property for the removal of trees that pose an immediate threat for contacting a power line.
  • Communications infrastructure providers must conduct patrol and detailed inspections of their overhead facilities at specified minimum frequencies in Tier 2 and Tier 3.

 

The Proposed Decision directs the CPUC's Safety and Enforcement Division to confer with CAL FIRE regarding:

  • Development of a statewide fire-wind map by CAL FIRE (or under CAL FIRE's oversight) for the purpose of establishing fire-wind-load regulations for utility infrastructure.  While the CPUC Fire-Threat Map uses historical wind data and other information to identify areas where there is an elevated or extreme risk for utility-associated wildfires with unprecedented precision, additional information, statistical analysis, modeling, and other work is needed to develop a statewide fire-wind map that accurately identifies the frequency and severity of fire winds at a spatial scale needed for cost-effective fire-wind-load regulations. 
  • A potential requirement for utilities to correct non-immediate fire risks in Tier 2 within 6 months.

Proposal Issued on PG&E's Request to Retire Diablo Canyon

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Proposal Issued on PG&E's Request to Retire Diablo Canyon

Today we issued a proposal (called a Proposed Decision) by an Administrative Law Judge that, if adopted by our Commissioners, would approve Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) proposal to retire the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo.  The power plant is expected to retire by 2025. 

A CPUC Administrative Law Judge evaluated the schedule for closure of the power plant, PG&E's request for replacement procurement, and requests for cost recovery, some of which were supported by various parties in several settlement agreements, and issued the proposal released today that:

  • Determines that consideration of any electricity procurement that may be needed to replace Diablo Canyon should be addressed in the CPUC's Integrated Resources Procurement proceeding. 
  • Allows PG&E to recover in rates $190.4 million in costs associated with retiring the plant:
    • $160.5 million to retain PG&E employees until the power plant is scheduled to close
    • $11.3 million for retraining of workers
    • $18.6 million for Diablo Canyon license renewal expenses incurred by PG&E
  • Finds that PG&E's request for $85 million for a Community Impact Mitigation Program (CIMP) requires legislative authorization, although PG&E may choose to use shareholder funds to support the CIMP.


On August 11, 2016, PG&E filed an Application (A.16-08-006) with the CPUC proposing to retire Diablo Canyon upon the expiration of its current operating licenses. Unit 1 of the power plant expires in 2024 and Unit 2 expires in 2025.  

 

PG&E requested approval to partially replace the output of the power plant with 2,000 GWh of energy efficiency. Today's proposal does not provide that approval, but instead finds that any replacement procurement should be addressed in the Integrated Resource Planning proceeding, which is actively considering the optimal mix of resources needed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the electric sector while simultaneously maintaining reliability and minimizing costs to ratepayers. 

Parties to the proceeding have the opportunity to file comments on the proposal before the CPUC votes on the matter. The first opportunity for the CPUC's Commissioners to vote on the proposal is at the CPUC's December 14, 2017, Voting Meeting in San Francisco.

 

The proposal is available on our website.  

Draft Resolution Released to Establish Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group; Applicants Sought to Serve on Advisory Group

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Draft Resolution Released to Establish Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group; Applicants Sought to Serve on Advisory Group

 

The CPUC and the California Energy Commission have released a draft proposal (called Draft Resolution) to establish and adopt a charter for a newly created Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group, which will review and provide advice on state programs proposed to achieve clean energy and pollution reduction. 

 

The Advisory Group, which may meet as often as quarterly, will provide an annual report that lists the programs they have reviewed and their recommendations. The Draft Resolution is scheduled for a vote by the CPUC on Dec. 14, 2017, and comments will be accepted through Dec. 4, 2017.  More information is available on our website.

 

The CPUC and the Energy Commission are seeking applicants to serve on the Advisory Group.  Applications are due on Dec. 22, 2017, by 5 p.m., to: DACAG@energy.ca.gov. More information is available on our website.


Senate Bill (SB) 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, requires that the CPUC and the Energy Commission create a Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group to provide advice on programs proposed to achieve clean energy and pollution reduction.  SB 350 defines disadvantaged communities as the most burdened census tracts in California.  Relative burden is determined by review of data on 20 pollution/health and socio-economic factors.  

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