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CPUC To Discuss Innovative Rail Safety Project at Bakersfield Voting Meeting

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Public rail crossings are one of the deadliest sites that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regulates. Approximately every three hours in the U.S. a person or vehicle is hit by a train.

On Feb. 6, 2020, at its Voting Meeting in Bakersfield, the CPUC’s Director of Rail Safety Division, Roger Clugston, will give a presentation about the CPUC’s innovative grade crossing pavement marking proposal under contemplation for Escalon, Calif. that illustrates a low-cost option for improving grade crossing safety.

Improving safety at railroad/rail transit crossings has challenges, such as integrating rail crossing design and technological advancements with street design; budget constraints; and cooperation among various stakeholders. It is critical that local, state, and federal agencies continue to invest in public safety enhancements and develop policies to improve rail crossing safety, efficiency, and reliability.

Kern County residents could benefit greatly from rail safety enhancements and innovation for rail crossing warning designs. Here is a quick digest of Kern County Highway-Rail Crossings Incidents:

  • Kern County experienced 30 incidents between 2014 and 2018, which represents about 4 percent of the total incidents (802) in California.
  • For the five-year period between 2014 and 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration’s California Incidents analysis shows that Kern County ranked number 11 out of 40 counties for the most highway-rail crossings incidents in the state.
  • From January to October 2019, Kern County had four incidents, which represents about 3 percent of the total incidents (146) in the State.

For information on the CPUC’s Feb. 6th Voting Meeting in Bakersfield, please visit https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/calEvent.aspx?id=6442463206.

Accelerating Microgrids and Other Resiliencies to Reduce the Impact of PSPS Events

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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued for public comment proposed solutions to help accelerate microgrids in the state, as the CPUC continues its efforts to implement strategies that could reduce the impact of utility Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS).

A CPUC staff report published today proposes strategies related to microgrids and other resiliencies that could reduce the impact of PSPS events. The report identifies solutions that accelerate interconnection of resiliency projects, modernizes tariffs to maximize resiliency benefits, and shares information with local governments for investment and operational decision-making. Comments from the public on the staff report should be submitted by Feb. 5, 2020 to public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov. Please reference proceeding number R.19-09-009.

Responses to the report and its accompanying questions that are being asked will support the CPUC’s focus on delivering a Spring 2020 decision directing mitigation measures that will be in place no later than Fall 2020. This effort is the first of three tracks implementing the framework for commercialization of microgrids associated with Senate Bill 1339 (Stern, 2018) and other resiliency strategies. Subsequent tracks will develop guidance for providing solutions that assure the long-term safety and resiliency of the electric grid in a manner consistent with the state’s policy goals.

Documents related to the proceeding can be found here.

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