Home | News Room | News Blog

CPUC News Blog

CPUC Acts to Further Help Those Affected by the October 2017 Wildfires; Reminds of Protections Available for All Wildfire-Impacted Customers

 Permanent link   All Posts

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its ongoing efforts to monitor consumer protections related to wildfires, today approved Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) request to continue to waive the costs for installing temporary electricity for those affected by the October 2017 wildfires in Northern California.

The October 2017 wildfires impacted Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Solano, Sonoma, and Yuba counties, and damaged or destroyed several thousand structures in PG&E's service territory. PG&E asked the CPUC for approval to continue to waive the Rule 13 tariff requirement under which applicants of temporary service are required to pay in advance the estimated installation and removal costs of service extensions for temporary power. This waiver was first authorized by the CPUC in November 2017, recognizing that restoring service to wildfire-impacted customers allows communities to begin to rebuild.

PG&E customer outreach data and field observations show that significant rebuilding efforts will take place during the remainder of 2018 and through 2019. The utility company now has until December 31, 2019, to improve safety and service for customers who need temporary electric service.

"Many state and local agencies must play a part when communities in California rebuild after a wildfire. Our action today helps communities at the ground level while they rebuild," said Commissioner Liane M. Randolph.

The CPUC previously approved customer protections that are automatically available as a result of a wildfire State of Emergency being declared in California. They are available to customers affected by the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, and they include:

Electric and Natural Gas Utility Customer Protections

  • Disconnections: Wildfire-impacted customers cannot be disconnected for nonpayment and associated fees.
  • Discontinue Billing: Utilities must discontinue billing customers whose homes are not capable of receiving utility services, and utilities cannot asses a disconnection charge.
  • Waive Deposits: Utilities must waive deposit requirements for affected residents seeking to re-establish service for one year, and must expedite move-in and move-out service requests.
  • Estimated Billing: Utilities must stop energy usage estimates for billing for the time the home/unit was unoccupied as a result of the wildfires.
  • Payment Plans: Affected customers who have prior arrearages and have lost their homes or have been displaced and are seeking to establish service in a new residence must be offered a payment plan with an initial payment of no greater than 20 percent of the amount due, and with equal installments for the remainder of not less than 12 billing cycles. 
  • Minimum Bills: Utilities must prorate any monthly access charge or minimum charges for affected customers typically assessed so that no customer will bear any of these costs for the time period after the customer's home was rendered unserviceable by a fire.

Water and Sewer Utility Customer Protections

  • Unpaid Bills: Water companies must work cooperatively with affected customers to resolve unpaid bills, and minimize disconnections for non‑payment.
  • Waive Reconnection and Facilities Fees:  Water companies must waive reconnection or facilities fees for affected customers and suspend deposits for affected customers who must reconnect to the system.
  • Payment Plans: Water companies must provide reasonable payment options to affected customers.
  • Bill Waiver Water companies must waive bills for victims who lost their homes. 

Home Telephone Service Customer Protections

Communication companies in fire-impacted areas must refund their customers who have home phone service for the periods that the customers are without service due to the wildfires. Carriers of Last Resort must waive certain charges, such as connection fees, for affected customers.

The proposal voted on is available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M237/K694/237694255.PDF

Read our most recent blog postings in the sidebar at right.

Immigration Guide