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ALJ/CAB/hkr Mailed 11/8/2002

Decision 02-11-019 November 7, 2002


Order Instituting Rulemaking into Implementation of Assembly Bill 1149, Regarding Underground Electric and Communications Facilities.

Rulemaking 00-01-005

(Filed January 6, 2000)



Title Page


1. Background 22

2. Requirements for Awards of Compensation 44

3. Notices of Intent 55

4. Timeliness of Requests for Compensation 66

5. Substantial Contribution to Resolution of Issues 66

6. Overall Benefits of Participation 1010

7. Hours Claimed 1212

8. Reasonableness of Claimed Compensation 1414

9. Awards 2424

10. Waiver of Comment Period 2525

11. Assignment of Proceeding 2525

Findings of Fact 2525

Conclusions of Law 2626

ORDER 2727



We grant intervenor compensation awards to The Utility Reform Network (TURN), California Alliance for Utility Safety and Education (CAUSE), Citizens Concerned About EMFs (CCAE), and 19th Street Neighbors (19SN) for contributions to Decision (D.) 01-12-009 in the following amounts: $71,822.16 to TURN; $56,659.05 to CAUSE; $26,764.63 to CCAE; and $29,733.00 to 19SN.

1. Background

In D.01-12-009, we revised the rules governing the State's program to convert overhead electric and communications distribution and transmission lines to underground. In that decision, we expanded Rule 20A criteria; extended the use of Rule 20A funds; allowed cities to mortgage 20A funds for five years; required standardized reporting forms from the utilities; improved communication between utilities and residents; and ordered the creation of an up-dated Undergrounding Planning Guide.

In addition, we identified issues to be examined in a Phase 2 proceeding including (1) whether or not to establish standards for conversion projects so third parties can competitively bid on projects with no compromise of quality, safety, or reliability; (2) whether incentive mechanisms are an effective cost management tool; (3) whether there should be a "breakpoint" in allowing new overhead and pole line installations or whether the current exemption process is working; (4) whether there are benefits to listing the charges for undergrounding as a line item on utility bills; (5) whether there is a fair and equitable, competitively neutral recovery mechanism for telecommunications carriers and cable companies to recover their undergrounding costs; (6) whether adjustments in the Rule 20A allocation formula are appropriate; and (7) whether there are reforms to the statewide conversion program that are more properly within the legislative domain.1

This proceeding was designed to implement Assembly Bill (AB) 1149 (Stats. 1999, Ch. 844), which required us to study ways to amend, revise, and improve the rules for the conversion of existing overhead electric and communications lines to underground service. We were specifically directed to study ways to (1) eliminate barriers to undergrounding and to prevent uneven patches of overhead facilities; (2) enhance public safety; (3) improve reliability; and (4) provide more flexibility and control to local governments. In response, the Energy Division convened workshops to encourage discussion among parties on the required AB 1149 issues as well as to identify other issues we should address. Concurrently, we held eight public participation hearings (PPHs) throughout the state. In the workshops, respondent utilities and telecommunications companies, local governments, interest groups, and concerned citizens took part. Many subsequently submitted written comments. In the PPHs, over 140 individuals and organizations made oral presentations, and an equal number submitted written comments in response to inserts in their monthly utility bills. Following the final PPH, we distributed a preliminary summary of issues, to which many parties made additional written comments.

On April 24, 2001, Assigned Commissioner Henry Duque sent a letter to all members of the Legislature with his recommendations for legislative action and a summary of the results of our hearings. His recommendations included (1) funding for an undergrounding ombudsperson and staff to oversee all conversion projects; (2) new financing mechanisms for communities for Rule 20B and 20C projects; (3) funding for an appeals process at the Commission for complaints from citizens and communities on any aspect of the undergrounding process; and (d) increased current funding for undergrounding from the State's general revenue.

As discussed in more detail below, all intervenors whose requests for compensation are covered by this order filed timely notices of intent and requests for intervenor compensation. No opposition was received to TURN's request. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) all objected, in whole or in part, to CAUSE's request and CCAE's request. All three utilities plus the Coalition of California Utility Employees objected to 19SN's request.

1 Although we concluded in D.01-12-009 that the proceeding should remain open, we instead close this docket in this decision and direct staff to draft and submit for our consideration a new rulemaking with the scope substantially as set forth in D.01-12-009 for Phase 2.

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