CPUC Augments Enforcement Efforts with New Citation Program
Electric Utilities Subject to Citations for Non-compliance with PSPS Guidelines
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today further strengthened its safety enforcement capabilities by authorizing its staff to issue citations to electric utilities for non-compliance with the CPUC’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) guidelines. This authorization expands the CPUC’s already existing PSPS enforcement capabilities, which include Orders Instituting Investigations, Orders to Show Cause, and Administrative Enforcement Orders.
Electric utilities use PSPS events to mitigate against the risks associated with catastrophic wildfires. These risks are substantial and exacerbated by the growing intensity of climate-driven weather events. However, electric utilities only use PSPS events as a measure of last resort. This is because de-energization events can also leave communities and essential facilities in difficult situations, creating alternative sets of risks and hardships, particularly for vulnerable communities and individuals. For this reason, when PSPS events are initiated, they must be executed consistent with the comprehensive policy framework created by the CPUC.
CPUC staff review each investor-owned utility PSPS event to ensure it complied with PSPS guidelines, this includes reviewing the utilities’ implementation of the PSPS event after the utility decides to shut off the power. It also includes reporting, noticing, and mitigation requirements.
This new citation program establishes a tool that CPUC staff may use when appropriate to swiftly cite utilities for lack of compliance with PSPS guidelines. It will help encourage complete and timely compliance with the PSPS guidelines and deter violations. Under the program, each citation, which might constitute multiple offenses, may not exceed $8 million.
The CPUC has created several other citation programs to provide its enforcement staff with tools to expeditiously correct rule violations without the necessity of a formal process. However, if a pattern of misconduct emerges, violations or potential violations may be addressed by a formal investigation and/or other enforcement actions. Today’s decision does not diminish, alter, or reduce the CPUC’s existing enforcement authority.
The proposal voted on is available here.
Information on PSPS is available here.
About the California Public Utilities Commission
The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. Visit www.cpuc.ca.gov for more information.