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On April 8, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The focus was energy-related matters, with several public speakers appearing to complain about Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s apparently-aggressive marketing campaign against the Marin Clean Energy Initiative, a “green energy” alternative to PG&E in Marin County. The telecommunications agenda was relatively light. The primary item of discussion was Commissioner Simon’s Order Instituting Rulemaking regarding enhanced 9-1-1 services for business customers and multi-line telephone system users. The Rural Telephone Bank matter was held again, this time by President Peevey for “further review.”  

These and other telecommunications items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed below.


REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS


  • New Order Instituting Rulemaking Issued Regarding How to Implement Enhanced 9-1-1 Services for Business Customers and for Multi-Line Telephone Systems Users (Item 56, adopted 5-0) – Commissioner Simon announced the release of an Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) into the methods for implementing Enhanced 9-1-1 (E911) services for business customers and multi-line telephone users. According to the OIR, 9-1-1 calls placed from business customers and multi-line telephone systems only identify the main address of the complex from which the call is placed, unless the business owner has called in advance to provide discrete locations within a facility. E911 services provide automatic location identification and automatic number identification. The OIR is intended to examine and define the regulatory contours of adopting E911 services in California in light of the Federal Communications Commission’s lack of guidance in this area. Commissioner Simon urged telecommunications carriers to “take full advantage of this opportunity” to shape this process. Opening Comments on the OIR are due May 10, 2010. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.

  • California High Cost Fund-A Administrative Committee Fund Surcharge Rate Reduced from .13% to .11% Effective May 1, 2010 (Item 19, adopted on Consent agenda) – Based on an anticipated CHCF-A program budget of $57.591 million for financial year 2010-11 adopted by the Commission last August, the this resolution reduces the CHCF-A surcharge rate from .13% to .11%, effective May 1, 2010, resulting in a total annual reduction in surcharge revenue of approximately $4.5 million. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.

  • AT&T California’s Surcharge Rate for the San Diego Underground Increased from $.77 to $1.46 (Item 16, adopted on Consent agenda) – In December 2006, the Commission approved Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T California’s (AT&T) request to impose a surcharge to recover costs associated with undergrounding aerial telephone lines in the City of San Diego. All local telephone services provided over AT&T’s lines (excluding Lifeline services) were subject to this $.77 surcharge. In early 2009, AT&T advised the Commission in an advice letter of its intent to raise the surcharge from $.77 to $1.46, with approximately $6.6 million to be generated from the increase. The Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) and Utility Consumers Action Network (UCAN) protested that advice letter, with DRA contesting on the grounds that AT&T should no longer be allowed to collect the surcharge because it had been granted almost complete pricing freedom, and UCAN contesting the costs that AT&T was incurring to complete the work. The Commission’s Communication Division (CD) rejected both protests, and DRA filed a request for a full Commission review. In the Proposed Decision, the Commission notes that AT&T will not achieve full pricing flexibility until January 1, 2011, and therefore permitted the increased surcharge until that time. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available at this link.

  • Statutory Deadline Extended in Community Hospital of Long Beach v. Verizon California, Inc. (Item 22, adopted on Consent agenda) The underlying matter involves Community Hospital of Long Beach’s claim that Verizon California, Inc. should refund it $27,854.52 in late payment charge interest penalties for services that it had ordered disconnected but for which service charges accrued. Verizon claims that it never received the disconnect request. This Order extends the statutory deadline to resolve the dispute from May 11, 2010 to May 11, 2011. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.

  • CPCN Granted to Agnostic Networks, LLC (Item 24, adopted on Consent agenda) – This Decision grants a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to Agnostic Networks, LLC (Agnostic) to provide (1) partial facilities-based and resold competitive local exchange services in California, throughout the service territories of Pacific Bell Telephone Company (AT&T), Verizon California, Inc., SureWest Telephone and Citizens Telecommunications Company of California, Inc., and (2) resold and facilities-based interexchange service statewide.  The Proposed Decision associated with this item is located here.

  • Teresa Pope v. Pacific Bell Telephone Company Complaint Dismissed (Item 26, adopted on Consent agenda) – By this action, Pope – a residential Lifeline customer – sought reimbursement for all charges appearing on her telephone bill for the last three years that were not Lifeline-related, and related general and punitive damages. Pacific Bell Telephone Company d/b/a AT&T California adjusted all of Pope’s contested charges, and because punitive and general damages were not available in this proceeding, the Commission dismissed the complaint. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.

  • Utility Consumers Action Network and Sprint Telephony PCS Settle Case Regarding Sprint’s Pioneer Plan (Item 36, adopted on Consent agenda) This case involves Utility Consumers Action Network’s (UCAN) complaint filed on August 25, 2008 against Sprint Telephony PCS, LP and related entities (“Sprint”) regarding Sprint’s “Pioneer Program,” a residential and business telephone service plan. UCAN alleged that via this program Sprint imposed unauthorized charges to customers, failed to respond to complaints about these charges, breached contracts between Sprint and numerous customers, and failed to follow CPUC orders. This Agenda Decision approves a settlement agreement for Sprint to provide customer refunds estimated at $521,000 and opportunities for changes to service plans. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.

  • Statutory Deadline Extended in Commission’s Investigation into Application of CEQA to Telecommunications Utilities (Item 38, adopted on Consent agenda) – In 2006, the Commission opened an Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) to consider changes to the Commission’s application of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQ) to applications of telecommunications utilities under its jurisdiction for authority to offer service and construct facilities. The three goals of this OIR are to develop rules and policies that: (1) ensure Commission compliance with CEQA requirements and policies; (2) promote the development of an advanced telecommunications infrastructure, particularly in regards to broadband; and (3) ensure that application of CEQA does not cause undue harm to telecommunications competition, particularly intermodal competition. This Proposed Order extends the statutory deadline to close this proceeding from April 16, 2010 to June 15, 2010. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.

  • Deadline Extended for Resolving Rulemaking Related to Telecommunications Public Policy Programs (Item 40, adopted on consent agenda) The Commission adopted an order extending the deadline for resolving the rulemaking related to its comprehensive review of the Telecommunications Public Policy Programs (R.06-05-028). The Commission has already adopted decisions revising aspects of the payphone-related programs, the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, and the California Teleconnect Fund. The remaining piece of this proceeding will be a resolution of issues raised regarding the LifeLine program. After the departure of Commissioner Chong, this proceeding was re-assigned to Commissioner Bohn, and a proposed decision has yet to be issued. This decision extends the time for resolving this issue until June 15, 2010. The Proposed Decision is available here.


SIGNIFICANT HELD AND WITHDRAWN ITEMS


  • Determination of Ratemaking Treatment for Rural Telephone Bank Stock Redemption Proceeds (Item 4, held until April 22, 2010) – This Proposed Decision would resolve the Small LECs’ application, prompted by previous Commission directives in certain Small LEC rate cases, to address “gain on sale” implications of the recent stock redemption associated with the dissolution of the Rural Telephone Bank. The Proposed Decisions issued in this proceeding would depart from the Commission’s “gain on sale” rules by allocating the full value of redeemed RTB stock to ratepayers, including the value of patronage shares received by RTB borrowers. The revised Proposed Decision is available here.

NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS


  • Melicia Charles Appointed Chief of Staff to Commissioner Simon – Commissioner Simon announced that Melicia Charles will the Chief of Staff in his office.  Ms. Charles began at the CPUC in 2006 and worked at the Energy Division, and has so far advised Commissioner Simon on public safety and telecommunications issues.

  • New Director of CSID – The Commission’s Executive Director announced that Loreen McMann, formerly with the California Energy Commission, has been appointed the new Director of the CPUC’s Consumer Service and Information Division.

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