IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Intervenor Gary Bailey's request for environmental review is denied.
2. The standards attached as the Appendix to this order are adopted as our final tree trimming standards, by modifying General Order (GO) 95 as indicated.
3. Each utility shall comply with the standards under Rule 37, Table 1, Case 13 by trimming to the extent of:
25% of the total number of trees requiring trimming by the six-month anniversary of this order
50% of the total number of trees requiring trimming by the 12-month anniversary of this order
75% of the total number of trees requiring trimming by the 18-month anniversary of this order
100% of the total number of trees requiring trimming by the 2-year anniversary of this order
4. Within 10 days after the effective date of this decision, each respondent utility shall file a plan with the Energy Division and the Consumer Services Division, describing the specifics of how the utility will comply with Ordering Paragraph 3. This plan must include a current estimate of the total number of trees which require trimming in order to comply with the standards adopted by this order.
5. The Commission staff shall monitor the respondents' compliance with the standards applicable under this order and promptly take all investigatory and enforcement action it deems appropriate.
6. The assigned Administrative Law Judge shall convene a prehearing conference within 30 days after the effective date of this order to identify the issues to be considered in concluding this proceeding; the evidence to be taken thereon; and to fix the date of the evidentiary hearing. The evidentiary hearing shall commence not later than 90 days after the effective date of this order.
This order is effective today.
Dated January 23, 1997, at San Francisco, California.
P. GREGORY CONLON
JESSIE J. KNIGHT, JR.
HENRY M. DUQUE
JOSIAH L. NEEPER
RICHARD A. BILAS
Where overhead wires pass through trees, safety and reliability of service demand that tree trimming be done in order that the wires may clear branches and foliage by a reasonable distance. The minimum clearances established in Table 1, Case 13, measured between line conductors and vegetation under normal conditions, shall be maintained. (Also see Appendix E for tree trimming guidelines).
When a utility has actual knowledge, obtained either through normal operating practices or notification to the utility, dead, rotten, and diseased trees or portions thereof, that overhang or lean toward and may fall into a span, should be removed.
Communication and electric supply circuits, energized at 750 volts or less, including their service drops, should be kept clear of limbs and foliage, in new construction and when circuits are reconstructed or repaired, whenever practicable. When a utility has actual knowledge, obtained either through normal operating practices or notification to the utility, that any circuit energized at 750 volts or less shows strain or evidences abrasion from tree contact, the condition shall be corrected by slacking or rearranging the line, trimming the tree or placing mechanical protection on the conductor(s).
1. Rule 35 requirements do not apply to conductors, or aerial cable that complies with Rule 57.4-C, energized at less than 60,000 volts, where trimming or removal is not practicable and the conductor is separated from the tree with suitable materials or devices to avoid conductor damage by abrasion and grounding of the circuit through the tree.
2. Rule 35 requirements do not apply where the utility has made a "good faith" effort to obtain permission to trim or remove vegetation but permission was refused or unobtainable. A "good faith" effort shall consist of current documentation of a minimum of an attempted personal contact and a written communication, including documentation of mailing or delivery. However, this does not preclude other action or actions from demonstrating "good faith." If permission to trim or remove vegetation is unobtainable and requirements of exception 2 are met, the utility is not compelled to comply with the requirements of exception 1.
3. The Commission recognizes that unusual circumstances beyond the control of the utility may result in nonconformance with the rules. In such cases, the utility may be directed by the Commission to take prompt remedial action to come into conformance, whether or not the nonconformance gives rise to penalties or is alleged to fall within permitted exceptions or phase-in requirements.
Clearances between overhead conductors, guys, messengers or trolley span wires and tops of rails, surfaces of thoroughfares or other generally accessible areas across, along or above which any of the former pass; also the clearances between conductors, guys, messengers or trolley span wires and buildings, poles, structures, or other objects, shall not be less than those set forth in Table 1, at a temperature of 60`F. and no wind.
The clearances specified in Table 1, Case 1, Columns A, B, D, E, and F, shall in no case be reduced more than 5% below the tabular values because of temperature and loading as specified in Rule 43. The clearances specified in Table 1, Cases 2 to 10 inclusive, shall in no case be reduced more than 10% below the tabular values because of temperature and loading as specified in Rule 43.
The clearances specified in Table 1, Case 1, Column C (22 1/2 feet), shall in no case be reduced below the tabular value because of temperature and loading as specified in Rule 43.
The clearances specified in Table 1, Cases 11, 12, and 13, shall in no case be reduced below the tabular values because of temperatures and loading as specified in Rule 43.
Where supply conductors are supported by suspension insulators at crossings over railroads which transport freight cars, the initial clearances shall be sufficient to prevent reduction to clearances less than 95% of the clearances specified in Table 1, Case 1, through the breaking of a conductor in either of the adjoining spans.
Where conductors, dead ends, and metal pins are concerned in any clearance specified in these rules, all clearances of less than 5 inches shall be applicable from surface of conductors (not including tie wires), dead ends, and metal pins, except clearances between surface of crossarm and conductors supported on pins and insulators (referred to in Table 1, Case 9) in which case the minimum clearance specified shall apply between center line of conductor and surface of crossarm or other line structure on which the conductor is supported.
All clearances of 5 inches or more shall be applicable from the center lines of conductors concerned.
The following are guidelines to Rule 35.
The radial clearances shown below are minimum clearances that should be established, at time of trimming, between the vegetation and the energized conductors and associated live parts where practicable. Vegetation management practices may make it advantageous to obtain greater clearances than those listed below:
A. Radial clearance for any conductor of a line operating at 2,400 or more volts, but less than 72,000 volts ............................... 4 feet
B. Radial clearance for any conductor of a line operating at 72,000 or more volts, but less than 110,000 volts .............................. 6 feet
C. Radial clearance for any conductor of a line operating at 110,000 or more volts, but less than 300,000 volts .............................. 10 feet
D. Radial clearance for any conductor of a line operating at 300,000 or more volts .............. 15 feet
(END OF APPENDIX)
(1) The standards proposed for consideration are those contained in "Proposed Rule 35, Proposed Rule 37, Proposed Change to Table 1, and Proposed - Appendix E", which comprise pages 12 through 15 of Appendix C to D.96-09-097. The rest of the Settlement is immaterial, as D.96-09-097 approved and adopted it in its entirety pursuant to Rule 51. Therefore, it is the sponsoring parties' agreement to propose these specific changes to G.O. 95 to which we are responding in this decision by taking the further step of acting upon the proposal.
(2) Rule 37 is titled, "Minimum Clearances of Wires Above Railroads, Thoroughfares, Buildings, Etc." Table 1 bears the title, "Basic Minimum Allowable Vertical Clearance of Wires Above Railroads, Thoroughfares, Ground or Water Surfaces; Also Clearances from Poles, Buildings, Structures or Other Objects [note omitted]." Adding Case 13 to this table under Rule 35 is apparently suggested as an expedient method for articulating minimum clearances between any overhead wires and neighboring vegetation. Caveat, however, that the note to the title states, "Voltage shown in the table shall mean line-to-ground voltage for direct current (DC) systems." All standards adopted here must be understood to apply as well to alternating current (AC) systems, which comprise the state's transmission and distribution system.
(3) The text of Appendix E also observes that vegetation management practices may make it advantageous to obtain greater clearances than those listed.
(4) In the latter instance, the proposed rule nevertheless expressly recognizes that the utility may be directed by this Commission to take prompt remedial action.
(5) Rule 14.1 defines a Commission rulemaking as "a formal Commission proceeding in which written proposals, comments, or exceptions are used instead of evidentiary hearings." Applying this standard, the procedure we have followed is almost exactly that which would have been followed in a rulemaking proceeding.