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On May 30, 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly scheduled agenda meeting in San Francisco.  The principal items of interest concerned fines relating to General Order 133-D service quality standards.  All Legislative items were held to June 13th without comment.  We provide further information regarding these agenda items and others addressed during the meeting below.

REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS

G.O. 133-D Fines against AT&T, Frontier Citizens, Frontier of Southwest, Happy Valley Telephone, Hornitos Telephone, and Winterhaven Telephone.  [Item 17, Adopted on Consent  Agenda]

The Commission approved administrative fines for 2018 from AT&T Corporation (“AT&T”), Frontier Communications of the Southwest (“Frontier Southwest”), Frontier Communications Company (“Frontier Citizens”), Happy Valley Telephone Company (“Happy Valley”), Hornitos Telephone Company (“Hornitos”), and Winterhaven Telephone Company (“Winterhaven”) for failure to meet service quality standards under G.O. 133-D.  G.O. 133-D provides for fines for what it terms chronic failures to meet specified “Minimum Standard Reporting Levels.” during 2018.  When the performance of a carrier subject to a reporting requirement applicable to it falls below the “Minimum Standard Reporting Levels” for three consecutive months, the General Order provides for fines, based on a schedule, adjusted for the relative size of the carrier and the length of the time the reporting standard has not been met.  The resolution adopted by the Commission provides for fines of $12,600 from AT&T; $71,238 from Frontier Citizens; $3,821 from Frontier Southwest; $900 from Happy Valley; $525 from Hornitos; and $525 from Winterhaven.

The Resolution adopted by the Commission is available here: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M298/K537/298537886.PDF

Frontier’s Alternative Proposal for Mandatory Corrective Action (G.O. 133-D) Approved. [Item 12, Adopted on Consent  Agenda]

The Commission adopted a resolution approving Frontier California, Inc. (“Frontier”)’s Advice Letter (“AL”) 12804 proposing corrective action in lieu of fines pursuant to CPUC General Order (“G.O.”) 133-D Section 9.6 in connection with its failure to meet service quality performance metrics in 2018.

G.O. 133-D provides service quality standards for installation intervals, installation commitments, customer trouble reports, out of service repair interval, and answer time.  G.O. 133-D Section 9.6 requires telephone providers subject to the General Order whose performance does not meet the minimum standards applicable to it to submit an annual filing by February 15 of the following year a Tier II Advice Letter that shows by month each service quality measurement that did not meet the minimum standard and the applicable fine.  The Communications Division (“CD”) then prepares a draft resolution that instructs a telephone corporation to pay the fine to the Commission for deposit into the California General Fund.  G.O. 133-D Section 9.7 allows carriers to submit proposals in lieu of payment of the fines in their February 15 filings for corrective measures to be made, including investment of  no less than twice the fine amount in projects that will improve service quality in a measurable way in two years.

In AL 12804, Frontier calculated a total fine amount of $1,310,310 for its failure to meet the applicable reporting standards in 2018.  In lieu of paying this fine, Frontier proposed an alternative for corrective action under Section 9.7 to invest no less than twice the amount of its calculated fine in projects to improve its customers’ service quality in measurable ways.  Specifically, Frontier identified 51 service improvement projects in 28 wire center areas across its network—primarily in Southern California—with a budget of $2,900,913.  Staff accepted Frontier’s commitment to complete these projects in lieu of its original penalty, and this resolution reflects Staff’s acceptance.  TURN filed a protest opposing the proposal on the basis that (1) the G.O. 133-D penalty mechanism is insufficient to ensure carriers meet the Commission’s service quality standards and thus G.O. 133-D should be revised; (2) AL 12804 does not explain why Frontier California is in chronic failure status for service quality performance; (3) stakeholders are unable to determine the effectiveness of Frontier’s prior investment commitments; and (4) the Commission should consider requiring a larger investment from Frontier California to ensure compliance with G.O. 133-D service quality standards.  The Commission found these arguments did not constitute valid grounds for protest of an advice letter, as specified in G.O. 96-B Rule 7.4.2.

The Resolution adopted by the Commission is available here: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M298/K193/298193814.PDF

AT&T’s Alternative Proposal for Mandatory Corrective Action (G.O. 133-D) Approved. [Item 15, Adopted on Consent  Agenda]

This resolution approves AT&T California (“AT&T”)’s Advice Letter (“AL”) 47735 addressing its investment proposal in lieu of fines pursuant to CPUC General Order (“G.O.”) 133-D Section 9.6 for failing to meet service quality performance metrics in 2018.

In AL 47735, AT&T calculated a total fine of $3.7 million.  In lieu of paying this fine, AT&T requested approval of its alternative proposal for corrective action under Section 9.7 to invest no less than twice the amount of its calculated fine in projects to improve its customers’ service quality in measurable ways within two years.  In AL 47735, AT&T proposed investing $7.4 million in projects to improve the communications infrastructure for providing traditional telephone service—specifically, rehabilitating existing copper plant and direct any remaining funds towards constructing new fiber facilities in areas where the company has a higher number of reported trouble tickets and higher maintenance costs.  TURN and Cal PA protested AT&T’s AL on March 7, 2019, claiming that (1) the G.O. 133-D penalty mechanism is insufficient to ensure carriers meet the Commission’s service quality standards and should be revised; (2) AL 47735 does not explain why AT&T is in chronic failure status under G.O. 133-D; (3) stakeholders are unable to determine the effectiveness of AT&T’s prior investment commitments; and (4) the Commission should consider requiring larger investment from AT&T to ensure compliance with G.O. 133-D service quality standards.  On April 3, 2019, AT&T filed AL Supplement 47335A and committed to performing construction and engineering projects in 28 central office areas, which experienced among the highest rates of outages of over 24 hours in 2018.  AT&T also committed to complete all service quality improvement projects within the two years specified by G.O. 133-D, as well as to hold quarterly meetings with CD Staff to review the progress of all projects.  The Commission accepted AT&T’s proposal and provided that AT&T must demonstrate improved results from the project areas where the investment in lieu of fines is to occur through its quarterly G.O. 133-D service quality reports and in a Tier 2 AL in two years.

The Resolution underlying this agenda item is available here: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M298/K187/298187988.PDF

De-Energization Guidelines Approved. [Item 35, Adopted on Regular Agenda by 5-0 Vote]

The Commission adopted de-energization (Public Safety Power Shut-off) communication and notification guidelines that expand upon the existing Resolution ESRB-8 to extend reasonableness, public notification, mitigation and reporting requirements for de-energization events established under Decision (“D.”) 12-04-024 to all electric investor owned utilities (“IOU”) to ensure that public and local officials are prepared for power shut off and aware of the electric IOUs’ de-energization policies.  In this decision, the Commission establishes requirements for notice and communication in the days prior to and after a de-energization event.  As it pertains to telecommunications service providers, this decision requires electric IOUs to assist critical facility and infrastructure customers (e.g., telecommunications providers with communications infrastructure such as selective routers, central offices, head ends, cellular switches, remote terminals and cellular sites) to evaluate their needs for backup generation and determine if additional equipment, like utility-provided generators for facilities that are not well prepared for a power shut-off, are needed.  Further, the IOUs must proactively partner with critical facility and infrastructure providers to assess their ability to maintain operations during de-energization events.  The IOUs must also identify clear points of contact with public safety partners, including communications providers, and whenever possible, prioritize notification of potential loss of power during de-energization to these public safety partners.

The Decision adopted by the Commission on this item is available here: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M296/K598/296598822.PDF

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