D0908029 Attachments A - C
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COM/TAS/hkr/lil Date of Issuance 8/25/2009

Decision 09-08-029 August 20, 2009


Order Instituting Rulemaking to Revise and Clarify Commission Regulations Relating to the Safety of Electric Utility and Communications Infrastructure Provider Facilities.

Rulemaking 08-11-005

(Filed November 6, 2008)



Title Page

Attachment A: Workshop Report



Title Page

Attachment B: General Order 95-Revisions

Attachment C: General Order 165-Revisions



Today's decision implements measures for electric transmission and distribution lines and related communication facilities to reduce fire hazards in California before the start of the 2009 fall fire season. Some of the measures we adopt today apply to those geographic areas in Southern California defined as "Extreme and Very High Fire Threat Zones." We also adopt statewide measures. We direct all entities subject to these measures to use all reasonable means to implement the measures before the 2009 fall fire season starts. We find that each cost-of-service regulated utility is entitled to recover reasonable costs prudently incurred to comply with the measures adopted today. In phase 2 of this proceeding, we will continue our review of fire hazards related to electric transmission and distribution lines and related communication facilities and consider additional measures to address fire safety on a statewide basis.

The measures we adopt today are summarized below:

· An ordering paragraph directing communication infrastructure providers to comply with the requirements of General Order 95 in "Extreme and Very High Fire Threat Zones" in Southern California. In phase 2 of this proceeding, we intend to incorporate language into General Order 95 to explicitly include communication infrastructure providers.

· Minor revisions to Rule 12 of General Order 95 to clarify the broad applicability of this rule to include, among things, communication facilities and communication infrastructure providers. In phase 2, we will continue to evaluate whether further revisions to Rule 12 are needed.

· A new rule, Rule 18, for General Order 95 to establish an auditable maintenance program, a notification procedure for safety hazards, and a method to prioritize corrective actions for General Order 95 violations.

· References in General Order 95 to a map identifying designated "Extreme and Very High Fire Threat Zones" in Southern California.

· A new rule, Rule 19, for General Order 95 to clarify the existing obligation to cooperate with Commission staff investigations and to preserve evidence. This measure applies statewide.

· Clarification to Rule 35 of General Order 95 to change all references to the existing term "tree trimming" to "vegetation management" due to ongoing confusion over what type of vegetation constitutes a "tree." This measure applies statewide.

· Interim revisions to Appendix E of General Order 95 to increase the minimum vegetation clearance at the time of trim for "Extreme and Very High Fire Threat Zones" in Southern California. We adopt these revisions as an interim measure pending further review of cost data in phase 2.

· Interim revisions to Rule 37 of General Order 95 to expand the minimum radial vegetation clearances for certain electric lines in "Extreme and Very High Fire Threat Zones" in Southern California.

· Clarify the existing requirement in Rule 38 (Table 2) of General Order 95 of taking known local conditions into account when designing, constructing, and maintaining facilities, specifically conductor separation, in areas subject to high winds. This clarification applies statewide.

· New rule for General Order 95, Rule 44.2, to address public safety issues related to pole overloading and resulting increased fire hazards. Today's decision adopts statewide application of our new rule to address pole overloading. A related ordering paragraph is also adopted with specific time periods for exchanging information and exemptions for pole loading calculations. These issues will be revisted in phase 2.

· Changes to General Order 165 to increase the current frequency of patrol inspections in rural areas within the "Extreme and Very High Fire Threat Zones" in Southern California. The costs associated with increase patrols will be addressed in phase 2.

1. Background

The Commission initiated this Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) on November 13, 2008 to consider revising and clarifying its regulations designed to protect the public from potential hazards, including fires, which may be caused by electric transmission, distribution, and related communication infrastructure providers' facilities. The OIR set forth an initial scope for the proceeding that included the following six areas for consideration:

1. Immediate reporting of fire-related incidents and full cooperation with Commission staff.

2. Applying General Order 1651 or similar maintenance and inspection requirements to all electric transmission and communication infrastructure providers' facilities located on poles owned by publicly-owned utilities.

3. Overloading of utility poles.

4. Prompt reporting and resolution of hazards and violations that one pole occupant may observe in another pole occupant's facilities.

5. Vegetation management in high risk fire areas.

6. Mitigating of fire hazards in high speed wind area.

On December 3, 2008, parties filed comments on the appropriate scope of this proceeding. Parties filed reply comments on December 17, 2008. On January 6, 2009, the Assigned Commissioner issued a ruling and scoping memo (ACR) and included the six areas described above in the scope of this proceeding. Importantly, the ACR found that "Electric Utilities and CIPs should not wait for the results of this rulemaking proceeding before implementing reasonable measures to reduce or mitigate potential fire hazards associated with their facilities."2 The ACR also split the proceeding into two phases. The primary focus of phase 1 of the proceeding, as described by the ACR, is to consider measures to reduce fire hazards in Southern California but consideration of statewide measures is also permitted.3

Five days of workshops were held in February. During these workshops, the Commission's Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) facilitated the meetings and established the agenda. Consistent with the ACR, CPSD offered parties the opportunity to present their positions on measures within each of the six areas identified in the OIR for implementation before the 2009 fall fire season in California. Following workshops, on March 6, 2009, CPSD filed its proposed rules as required by the ACR.

The following parties participated in workshops: Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T California (AT&T); CPSD; the Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA); California Cable TV Association (CCTA); California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF); California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA);4 California Association of Competitive Telecommunications Carriers (CALTEL); CTIA-The Wireless Association (CTIA); Comcast Phone of California (Comcast); County of Los Angeles Fire Department (LA County); Cox Communications (Cox); Davey Tree; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP); Mussey Grade Road Alliance; Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E); PacifiCorp; Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD); San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E); Sempra Energy; Sierra Pacific Power Company (Sierra Pacific); Southern California Edison (SCE); The Utility Reform Network (TURN); T-Mobile; Verizon California Inc. (Verizon).

Opening comments on CPSD's proposed rules were filed on March 27, 2009 and reply comments were filed on April 8, 2009. PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, PacifiCorp, and Sierra Pacific filed motions requesting evidentiary hearings. On April 14, 2009, the Commission held a prehearing conference. At this prehearing conference, the investor-owned electric utilities suggested that more progress on the development of workable rules would be made if informal technical workshops were held among the parties, rather than spending time preparing for evidentiary hearings in phase 1.

As a result, on April 20, 2009, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Kenney issued a ruling cancelling evidentiary hearings, setting workshops, and making other revisions to the procedural schedule. PG&E hosted two days of informal workshops in San Francisco on April 28 and 29, 2009. Following the workshops, parties contributed to the development of the Joint Party Workshop Report (Workshop Report) filed on May 14, 2009.

The Workshop Report contains the final version of the proposals by CPSD. The Workshop Report also sets forth the various positions of other parties and alternative language or proposals for the Commission's consideration. Because this decision contains numerous references to the Workshop Report, it is included as Attachment A hereto. Parties filed opening and rely briefs in phase 1 of this proceeding on May 22, 2009 and June 1, 2009, respectively. This proceeding remains open for consideration of issues in phase 2.

1 General Order 165 can be found at the Commission's home page, http://www.cpuc.ca.gov.

2 ACR, pp. 6-7.

3 ACR, pp. 2-3.

4 CMUA electric utility members are the Cities of Alameda, Anaheim, Azusa, Banning, Burbank, Cerritos, Colton, Corona, Glendale, Healdsburg, Lodi, Lompoc, Los Angeles, Needles, Palo Alto, Pasadena, Rancho Cucamonga, Redding, Riverside, Roseville, Santa Clara, and Vernon, as well as the Imperial, Merced, Modesto, Turlock Irrigation Districts, the Northern California Power Agency, Southern California Public Power Authority, Transmission Agency of Northern California, Lassen Municipal Utility District, Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Trinity and Truckee Donner Public Utility Districts, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the City and County of San Francisco, Hetch-Hetchy.

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