IV. Safety and Reliability

The safety and reliability of the electric delivery system is a principal concern of the Commission. Parties observe that BPL poses unique safety issues, since it is attached directly to energized electric wire. (PG&E Opening Comments, pp. 3-4; SDG&E Opening Comments, p. 5; SCE Opening Comments, pp. 4-5).

No party calls for BPL companies to be granted mandatory access rights to utility rights of way, and PG&E and SCE explicitly oppose any such requirement (PG&E Opening Comments, p. 8; SCE Reply Comments, p. 15.) We agree that mandatory access rights are not appropriate in this situation.

Since the electric utilities continue to be responsible for maintaining high standards of safety and reliability, the utilities should determine whether or not BPL equipment can be installed on their system, who can install the equipment, and how the equipment should be installed and operated.

Electric utilities also must continue to comply with the rules, requirements, and standards promulgated by the Commission's General Order (GO) 95, which applies to the construction of overhead lines, and GO 128, which applies to the construction of underground electric supply and communication systems. Utilities shall ensure that their compliance with the Commission's GO 95 and GO #128 and their setting and application of additional safeguards and conditions is performed in a competitively neutral manner with respect to other communications and information providers who seek similar access. (OIR, p. 12.)

Moreover, as previously noted in D.98-10-058, these General Orders provide minimum standards, and the utilities may require additional safeguards and conditions as necessary to ensure safety and service.

If in the course of implementing BPL projects utilities identify a need to revise applicable Commission rules or General Orders, the utilities are encouraged to request appropriate relief from the Commission. The Commission will address the request expeditiously. No parties disagreed with this approach.

We do not intend to preempt any State law regarding electrical safety.

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