Evolution of PSPS Guidelines
We continue to take action to mitigate the impacts of PSPS events:
On June 24, 2021, the Commission approved updated and new guidelines, rules, and regulations in Decision 21-06-034 based on its review of Resolution ESRB-8, D.19-05-042, D.20-05-041, Electric investor-owned utility PSPS post-event reports, the responses to those reports, and the CPUC Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) Report and comments filed on that Report.
These Phase 3 guidelines require Electric investor-owned utilities to take a results-based approach to improve notification and mitigate the impacts of PSPS events. The utilities must balance the risk of harm from utility-ignited wildfires against the public harms of shutting off power.
The Phase 3 guidelines and rules are intended to ensure utilities continually improve planning, preparation, and access to resources during PSPS events, and enhance notification of, and mitigate impacts on, all customers with particular focus on access and functional needs and vulnerable populations.
Under the new Phase 3 guidelines and rules, utilities must:
- Conduct annual PSPS Exercises that mirror an actual PSPS event.
- Add entities to Critical Facilities and Infrastructure definition to receive advance notification of PSPS events and assess the need for backup generation during de-energization.
- Increase services at Community Resource Centers (CRCs) including device charging stations to power medical devices.
- Provide support for customers that rely on electricity to maintain necessary life functions, including durable medical equipment and assistive technology.
- Conduct annual surveys of access and functional needs customers to assess PSPS event notification and the resources to utilize electric equipment to maintain necessary life functions for the duration of any de-energization events.
Documents related to this proceeding are available at: https://apps.cpuc.ca.gov/apex/f?p=401:56:0::NO:RP,57,RIR:P5_PROCEEDING_SELECT:R1812005.
The current Phase 3 PSPS guidelines are preceded by and build upon past actions described below.
- Phase 2 guidelines (D.20-05-051) directed electric companies to provide enhanced customer-friendly communication during all phases of a PSPS event, minimize the impact on customers, and increase accountability with regional Working Groups and in reports.
The Phase 2 guidelines also directed the electric utilities to more actively and holistically consider the Access and Functional Needs (AFN) community’s needs and input. Such communities include vulnerable populations, current and potentially eligible medical baseline customers. The “Access and functional needs population” are individuals who have the following conditions as defined by Government Code 8593:
- developmental or intellectual disabilities
- physical disabilities
- chronic conditions
- limited English proficiency or who are non-English speaking
- older adults
- people living in institutionalized settings
- low income
- transportation disadvantaged, including those who are dependent on public transit
On April 30, 2020, the CPUC Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) completed a Public Report on the Late 2019 Public Safety Power Shutoff Events (attachments: Part 1, Part 2) that assessed the performance of PG&E, SCE and SDG&E during the late Fall 2019 PSPS events. (SED served its Report in June 2020 to the I.19-11-013 service list, and the Report was incorporated into the record of R.18-12-005 in September 2020.)
This PSPS caused customer confusion, anger, and resulted in some customers, including medical baseline customers, not being notified of the PSPS. These PSPS events cause us to take many actions.
On Oct. 18, 2019, we held an Emergency Meeting to hear from top Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) executives to publicly address the mistakes and operational gaps found in the utility’s October 2019 PSPS events and to offer lessons learned to make sure they are not repeated. Learn more information about the meeting and our actions on the October 2019 PSPS Events page.
Phase 1 guidelines were approved on May 30, 2019, in a decision in the R.18-12-005 proceeding, to prepare for the 2019 fire season.
The CPUC opened a new Rulemaking (R.18-12-005) on December 13, 2018 to examine the utilities' PSPS processes and practices in response to Senate Bill 901.
Resolution ESRB-8 was adopted on July 12, 2018 to improve the customer notification requirements before de-energization events and required utilities to submit a report within 10 days after each de-energization event.
On April 19, 2012, we provided our first PSPS guidance to utilities in Decision 12-04-024, in response to SDG&E’s Application 08-12-021 requesting specific authority to shut off power as a fire-prevention measure against severe Santa Ana winds and a review of SDG&E's proactive de-energization measures.