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Safety and Enforcement Division Names New Deputy Director

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Our Safety and Enforcement Division has named Leslie “Lee” Palmer as Deputy Director.  

Lee oversees the Safety and Enforcement Division’s Office of Utility Safety and Reliability, which includes the Gas Safety and Reliability Branch, Electric Safety and Reliability Branch, and Risk Assessment and Safety.

Prior to joining the CPUC, Lee served with the California Military Department as the Branch Chief for International Affairs. He has 14 years of service with the U.S. Army and currently serves as an Officer in the California National Guard.

Lee was born and raised in the California Bay Area and currently lives in the East Bay.

CPUC Sets Date For Safety Intervenor Workshop

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For the last few years we have been exploring ways of expanding the participation of safety related intervenors in our proceedings. For example, in July 2015, we distributed a Solicitation for Input seeking informal feedback on potentially expanding the role of safety intervenors and asking whether there are specific organizations that could serve as safety intervenors, whether we should require certain competencies of safety intervenors, and whether potential safety intervenors experience barriers to their participation. Earlier in 2016, working with the Legislature, we receive approval to establish our own Division of Safety Analysis.

On Sept. 15, 2016, from 1-4:30 p.m. in our Courtyard Room we are holding a Safety Intervenor Workshop that is free and open to the public.

The intent of this workshop is two-fold. During the first half, interested stakeholders will brainstorm an effective way to establish this new Division of Safety Analysis. During the second half there will be a discussion about opportunities and challenges surrounding the potential participation of other safety intervenors in relevant CPUC proceedings. This workshop is required as part of our 2016 Safety Action Plan – Action Item #7.

For the agenda and a listen-only call-in number, please see our webpage for the event.
http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=12425 

Hope to see you there!

CPUC and LAPD Conduct Hollywood Inspection

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In late July the CPUC’s Transportation Enforcement staff partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department-Hollywood Division to conduct a joint inspection of the Hollywood Entertainment District, which consists of areas surrounding and including Sunset Boulevard.

The inspection was the latest effort responsive to complaints from businesses and residents of the area. The complaints allege that overly aggressive passenger carriers badger the public and that numerous tour buses block narrow local streets and take up large swathes of parking spaces on major streets.

The inspection team pulled 67 tour vehicles into the inspection area and asked the drivers to produce a valid CPUC permit and proof of liability, collision, and workers’ compensation insurances. Of the 67 inspections, the LAPD impounded four vehicles.

The following day, the CPUC returned to the scene with the LAPD for a second inspection. The LAPD impounded a carrier that it had verbally admonished the day before.

If you are looking for a licensed passenger carrier (or a moving company), you can check the CPUC’s online database to see if the carrier is licensed.

Call 811 Before You Dig!

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At our Aug. 18 Voting Meeting we heard from our Safety and Enforcement Division about the importance of calling 811 prior to any digging project in order to have underground utility lines marked.

 

It is very important that professionals and homeowners call 811 and follow the safe digging process to help prevent injuries, property damage, and outages. Residents within master-metered mobilehome parks should notify park management of all intended excavation activities by residents or a contractor performing excavation work on behalf of a resident.

 

People doing work or projects that require digging into the ground – from those making small holes for lawn and garden projects to contractors digging up pavement – should call 811 to know what’s below before they begin digging in order to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line and injuring themselves, their families, or neighbors.

 

When calling 811, professionals and homeowners are connected to a local one-call center, which notifies its member utility companies of the intent to dig. Within two business days (not including weekends and holidays) utilities will locate and mark, using flags or spray paint, the approximate location of their facilities that are within the designated work area. Otherwise, the utilities will provide notification that they have no facilities in that area. In the case of master-metered mobilehome parks, park management needs to provide the location of master-metered subsurface facilities.

 

Striking a single subsurface facility can result in significant injuries or damages to the excavator and the nearby public, as well as fines and inconvenient outages. Anyone excavating should always exercise care even when using only hand tools to dig in the proximity of marked facilities. Every excavation project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, putting in a fence, building a deck, and laying a patio are all examples of excavation projects for which 811 should be called well before starting the project. In the case of master-metered mobilehome parks, residents should call 811, and also notify park management, before excavating within the park.

 

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects, and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists. Marks provided by utilities do not provide depth of facilities, nor should depth of facilities be ever assumed. Failure to call before excavating results in more than hundreds of thousands of unintentional hits annually.

 

Visit www.call811.com for more information about 811 and the call-before-you-dig process.


August 18 Voting Meeting Re-Cap

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 We held a Voting Meeting on August 18th and here is a short re-cap of certain highlights:

 

New Deputy Director for Energy Division(2)

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Pete Skala has been named as the new Deputy Director of Energy Division. He joins Cynthia Walker to become the second Deputy, reporting to Director Edward Randolph.

Pete was formerly the Program Manager of the Energy Efficiency Branch. This Branch, as well as the Demand Response, Customer Generation and Retail Rates Branch and the Market Structure, Costs and Natural Gas Branch will report to Pete.
 
Pete spent the 1990s as environmental engineer cleaning up state Superfund sites.  He then got a graduate degree in economics and began working for the CPUC in 2001, where he has been ever since (aside from a 3-year stint as a stay-at-home dad.)  Pete began his CPUC career in the Office of Ratepayer Advocates working on energy issues.  Pete started working for Energy Division in 2007.
 
Pete holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Arts degree in Economics.

Consumer Affairs Representatives At Your Service

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Our Consumer Affairs Branch is the first line of defense for utility customers. Our Representatives can assist you with billing and service matters related to your natural gas, electric, water, or telecommunications services. We can answer questions, process complaints, and help resolve application denials associated with our telecommunications low income program (California LifeLine) and energy low income program (CARE).

Recently, one of our Consumer Affairs Representatives, Greg Harris, received a complaint from a consumer regarding her communications service provider.  The consumer had lost service, although she said she had paid her bills in a timely manner and had proof of those payments.  She tried to resolve the dispute but could not reach a live representative at the provider’s customer service number.  The consumer reached out to us by calling our Consumer Affairs Branch number (1-800-649-7570). Greg listened to the consumer and asked her questions to determine the specifics of her complaint.  Greg then used a three-way call to connect the consumer directly to her service provider’s high-level complaint resolution group.  Greg was able to help the consumer explain the issue to her service provider, and as a result, the billing issue was resolved. The consumer subsequently contacted Greg’s supervisor to provide this feedback: Greg was patient, professional, and committed to assisting in resolving the complaint. His involvement removed frustration and provided resolution that had been sought for months. 

These types of contacts with our Consumer Affairs Branch Representatives demonstrate our commitment to provide superior customer service and offer the assistance California’s consumers are seeking.

Contact our Consumer Affairs Branch 

  • Online Complaint Form: www.cpuc.ca.gov/cab 
  • U.S. Mail: CPUC, Consumer Affairs Branch, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102
  • Phone:  1-800-649-7570

CPUC Diversity Program In Action at American Indian Chamber Expo

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The CPUC’s Supplier Diversity Liaison joined tribal businesses and American Indian/Alaskan Native-owned businesses at this month’s American Indian Chamber of Commerce’s 13th Annual Expo, entitled “Soaring Together Through Strategic Partnerships.”   

The CPUC supports diverse businesses through its Supplier Diversity program, which was created more than two decades ago to encourage that a fair proportion of total utility contracts and subcontracts for products and services are awarded to women, minority, and disabled veteran businesses. The CPUC established voluntary procurement goals for utilities of 5 percent for woman-owned, 15 percent for minority owned, and 1.5 percent for disabled veteran-owned businesses. This order, known as General Order 156, was amended in 2015 to include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender business enterprises into the program.  

“Soaring Together” was definitely the theme of the day at the Expo, which featured more than 300 attendees and 25 exhibitors. The CPUC’s Supplier Diversity Liaison exhibited materials on the CPUC’s Supplier Diversity, and Small Business programs, and spoke with business owners about the CPUC’s  certification process. Investor-owned utilities, telecommunication carriers, government agencies, and other private owned corporations met with business owners during matchmaking sessions, while others attended workshops to gather information on how to secure contracts, build business relationships, and the importance of mastering the art of networking.

This event is held annually in Rancho Mirage. If you would like more information about this or future events contact the CPUC’s Supplier Diversity Liaison, Drisha Melton, at (213) 620-2688.  

Save the Date for Safety En Banc

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Our second annual Safety En Banc will focus on interconnected infrastructures and will feature executives from energy, water, and communication industries as well as industry experts. 

So mark your calendar for Wednesday, October 19, 2016, 9:15 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public in our Auditorium (505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco). You can also watch via video webcast.

This Safety En Banc is devoted to a discussion of interconnected critical infrastructures, such as gas, electric, communications, transportation, and water.  The En Banc will explore the manner in which critical infrastructures are interconnected, such that a disruption in one infrastructure may have cascading adverse effects in others.  The En Banc will include a presentation on interconnected infrastructures, and small breakout sessions during which Commissioners and invited stakeholders will discuss different topics related to interconnected infrastructures.

Our Safety Action Plan, which helps to fully integrate safety in all aspects of our work, calls for an annual Safety En Banc that provides for an interactive discussion of utility safety.

For the agenda and more information, please see the event page on our website.

California Moves Closer to Zero Net Energy Goals

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California is the country’s undisputed leader in both policies and projects that are laying the path to an energy efficient future. 

The state continues the march toward its zero net energy (ZNE) goals, with 108 new and renovated commercial buildings that have been either verified as generating as much energy as they consume or are working toward that target.  The count was made official via the recently released CaliforniaZNE Watchlist, which tracks ZNE commercial buildings, including multi-family projects. Buildings with ultra-low energy performance comparable to ZNE are also included.  The Watchlist is funded via the CPUC and developed by the New Buildings Institute (NBI), a national nonprofit group.

The California Energy Commission’s 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report and the CPUC’s 2008 Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan established goals of having all new residential construction in California be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction ZNE by 2030. 
With the state’s bold vision of the energy future, California has steadily moved toward creating the necessary infrastructure to help design firms and owners realize ultra-low energy buildings. ZNE buildings help fight pollution and address the harmful impacts of climate change. Electricity is responsible for approximately 20 percent of California’s greenhouse gas, with residential and commercial building consuming 70 percent of the electricity (equal to 14 percent of greenhouse gases).

Special attention is being paid to growing momentum behind reducing energy in K-12 schools and community colleges -- both new and existing projects. With energy bills at California’s K-12 public schools totaling more than $700 million a year, innovative energy saving solutions are needed to manage costs. Schools built and renovated to ZNE performance have substantially lower energy costs and over time save money on energy bills that can be spent on students and programs.

One such project is the Oakland Unified School District La Escuelita Education Center, which opened its doors in the Fall of 2014 targeting net zero energy performance. The 123,000-square foot education complex project includes an elementary school, alternative high school, early childhood education center, the District’s television station, and a community health center.

The effort to meet Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s ambitious ZNE goals also extends to state-owned buildings, as California has led by example by adopting an administration-wide definition for ZNE construction and building new ZNE facilities for the Department of Motor Vehicles and State Lottery with a half dozen additional facilities with ZNE potential expected to be under construction in the next year.  

For more information about California’s progress on ZNE, read the ZNE WatchList or sign up for the ZNE Action Bulletin. 

Are you in the 916, 805, or 619 Area Code Regions?

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If you have a 916, 805, or 619 area code, mark your calendars to attend our public meetings during which we will provide you with information and obtain your input on the introduction of new area codes to those regions.Image of a pushbutton phone 

The 916 area code serves the greater Sacramento area, which includes parts of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, and Yolo Counties.  We have started the process to introduce a new area code to the area now served by the 916 area code because the 916 is now expected to use up its available prefixes by March 2018 due to increased demand. The local jurisdictional and public meetings are as follows:

●      Aug. 15, 2016, 1 p.m.: Sacramento Historic City Hall, Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, 915 I St., Sacramento

●      Aug. 15, 2016, 6 p.m.: Folsom Community Center, Activity Room, 52 Natoma St., Folsom

●      Aug. 16, 2016, 1 p.m.: Roseville Civic Center, Meeting Rooms 1 and 2, 311 Vernon St., Roseville

 

The area served by the 805 area code includes small portions of Monterey and Kern Counties and most of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.  We have started the process to introduce a new area code to the area now served by the 805 area code because the 805 is now expected to use up its available prefixes by June 2018 due to increased demand. The local jurisdictional and public meetings are as follows:

●      Aug. 22, 2016, 2 p.m.: Oxnard City Council Chambers, 300 West 3rd St., Oxnard

●      Aug. 22, 2016, 7 p.m.: Eastside Branch Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Wing, 1102 E. Montecito St., Santa Barbara

●      Aug. 23, 2016, 11 a.m.: San Luis Obispo City Council Chambers, 990 Palm St., San Luis Obispo

 

The area served by the 619 area code includes the southern portion of the City of San Diego, and the adjacent cities of Chula Vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Santee, and unincorporated areas of San Diego County. We have started the process to add the 858 area code to the areas now served by the 619 area code because the 619 area code is expected to use up its available prefixes by March 2019. Adding the 858 area code to the areas served by the 619 area code is known as a boundary elimination overlay, which will provide additional prefixes and new telephone numbers for the 619 area code customers. The local jurisdictional and public meetings are as follows:

●      Oct. 4, 2016, 1 p.m.: Mission Valley State Building, 7575 Metropolitan Dr., San Diego

●      Oct. 4, 2016, 6 p.m.: La Colonia Community Center, 715 Valley Ave., Solana Beach

●      Oct. 5, 2016, 11 a.m.: Pine Valley Improvement Club, 28890 Old Highway 80, Pine Valley

 

Read our media advisory for more information.

Strategic Planning Leads to Code of Conduct, Hold List Changes, and More

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As anyone who has been to our Commissioner Committee meetings has heard, we have embarked on an in-depth strategic planning process. Through this process, the Commissioners have adopted Strategic Directives, Governance Process Policies, and Commission-Staff Linkage Policies.

The Strategic Directives define the universe of results that the Commissioners expect the CPUC to achieve. They include CPUC Mission; Safety; Reliability and Resiliency; Rates and Affordability; Universal Access/Universal Service; Consumer Protection, Education, and Assistance; Compliance and Enforcement; Climate Change; Environmental Sustainability; Economic Prosperity; Administration; Communication and Engagement; Decision-making Process; Coordination with Other Governmental Entities; and Risk Management.

The Governance Process Policies help assure the CPUC’s effective governance. They include Commission Purpose, Commissioner Job Description, Appointment and Role of the President, Commissioner Code of Conduct, Committee Principles, Commissioner and Commission Comments to State and Federal Agencies; and Commissioner Training and Orientation. The Governance Process Policies also tackled Meeting Procedures. In the past, when an item on our Voting Meeting agenda was held-over to a future meeting, it would be noted on a “hold list” that was posted to our website on the afternoon the day before a Voting Meeting. Now, according to the Meeting Procedures, we will make the first draft hold list publicly available at 3 p.m. three business days before the Voting Meeting. For Voting Meetings on a Thursday, this means the first draft hold list will be made publicly available the prior Monday at 3 p.m. The final hold list will be issued the day before a Voting Meeting. Holds by a Commissioner can only be lifted by a vote of the Commissioners at the Voting Meeting, followed by a vote on the item under consideration. We will use our website to communicate the draft and final hold lists to the public.

The Commission-Staff Linkage Policies clarify the expected performance of those who report directly to the Commissioners, namely the Executive Director, General Counsel, Chief Administrative Law Judge, and Internal Auditor.

Read the Strategic Directives, Governance Process Policies, and Commission -Staff Linkage Policies, adopted by the Commissioners on July 14, 2016, for more information.

Rail Transit Safety Program Model For Nation

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox has sent a letter to Governor Brown asking that all states attain Federal Transit Administration-approved safety certification for rail transit safety programs. The good new for California is that the CPUC’s rail transit program is one of only two programs in the nation that is already certified based on our existing rail transit safety oversight and our program’s technical capacity!

California Continues to Surpass Renewable Energy Goal

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We have issued our second-quarter 2016 report on our renewable energy program, RPS Q2 Quarterly Report Chart from page 7demonstrating great results!


California is aggressively bringing renewable generation online to meet its Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. It requires utilities such as PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric (which provide approximately 68 percent of the state’s electric retail sales), and others to procure 33 percent of their annual retail sales from eligible renewable sources by 2020. They must achieve intermediate RPS targets of 20 percent from 2011-2013 and 25 percent from 2014-2016. Senate Bill 350 (De León, 2015) revises the current RPS target to obtain 50 percent of total retail electricity sales from renewable resources by December 31, 2030, with interim targets of 40 percent by December 31, 2024, and 45 percent by December 31, 2027.

As of September 4, 2015, PG&E, Edison, and SDG&E forecasted that they collectively served 28.8 percent of their retail electric load with RPS-eligible generation during 2015, exceeding the 2015 RPS procurement target.

Please read our report for more information.

CPUC Joins Communities For National Night Out

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The CPUC’s News & Outreach local government/community liaisons helped “take a bite out of crime” by joining residents, local government, and law enforcement at National Night Out events in the Northern California communities of Hercules and Colma on August 2. At these neighborhood gatherings, CPUC liaisons shared important utility related safety information and tips, as well as how to save on monthly utility bills.National Night Out 

National Night out, the country’s united effort to encourage the partnerships of neighborhoods and police to thwart crime, is held every year on the first Tuesday in August.

At Hercules City Hall in Contra Costa County, the CPUC met with the City Manager and Chief of Police, to discuss safety issues and celebrate National Night Out with residents.

Meanwhile at the Target shopping center parking lot in Colma in San Mateo County, the CPUC, for its third consecutive year, participated in the Colma Police Department’s annual family friendly event, featuring free food, a live DJ, raffle prize drawings, and fun activities. Also attending the event were local law enforcement agencies and businesses including the Colma Fire Department, Broadmoor Police Department, Pacifica Police Department, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office-Office of Emergency Services, California Highway Patrol, the K-9 Units of the San Bruno Police Department and San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, as well as event co-sponsors Target and Home Depot. A special guest appearance was made by George Seifert, former San Francisco 49ers coach. Although Officer McGruff was not available, Home Depot and Baskin-Robbins mascots were on-hand to greet attendees.

Want to help “take a bite out of crime” and participate in a National Night Out event in your community next year? Be sure to mark your calendars for the first Tuesday in August and visit your City Hall and/or local police department to find an event in your neighborhood!

 

Sun Continues to Shine and Power California

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In case you haven’t heard, the California Solar Initiative has met its customer-installed solar energy goal, helping to build a sustainable market and greening our golden state!

We issued our Annual Program Assessment of the California Solar Initiative on June 30th, showing that as of December 31, 2015, the California Solar Initiative General Market Program had installed 1,753.6 megawatts, with another 139.7 megawatts reserved in pending projects, surpassing the program goal of installing 1,750 megawatts by 2017. Customer solar installations also continued to increase in 2015, largely without rebate incentives, demonstrating that the California Solar Initiative program has substantially achieved its objective of stimulating widespread adoption of solar energy and creating a self-sustaining market.   

Between the last quarter of 2008 and the last quarter of 2014, the average cost of installed residential systems decreased 53 percent from $10.87 per watt to $5.14 per watt, and the average cost of installed non-residential solar system costs decreased 62 percent from $10.30 per watt to $3.93 per watt.

By way of background, in January 2007, California began a $3.3 billion ratepayer-funded effort to install 3,000 megawatts of new solar energy systems over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generation equipment.  The CPUC’s portion of the solar effort is known as the California Solar Initiative program. The California Solar Initiative program’s goal is to install 1,940 megawatts of solar capacity by the end of 2016 (this includes the general market program goal of 1,750 megawatts) and, along with other statewide solar programs, transition the solar industry to a point where it can be self-sustaining without subsidies.

For more information, please read our Annual Program Assessment.

 

Welcome to the CPUC’s News Blog

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Welcome to the new blog of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

Whether the topic can be covered in 50 words or 500 words, we’ll fill you in on news about our programs, decisions, hot topics, events, and more!   

Do you have ideas for topics you’d like us to blog about? Send them to news@cpuc.ca.gov.

In the meantime, don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube page.

You can also subscribe to receive documents from us sent directly to your email. This free service allows you to obtain documents published on our website, such as press releases, Proposed Decisions, and final Decisions.  You can follow a particular proceeding, industry, or type of document in a manner that best meets your needs.

 

Thanks for reading!

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