On July 14, 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. Two major telecommunications-related issues – pending revisions to General Order 153 to reflect reforms to the California Lifeline Telephone Program, and the Safety Infrastructure Proposed Decision – were held until future meetings, with the remaining telecommunications items on the consent agenda.
These and other items of interest on the Commission’s public agenda are discussed in further detail below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
- The Siskiyou Telephone Company’s Petition to Modify General Rate Case Granted
(Item 12, adopted on consent agenda) – This Proposed Decision grants The Siskiyou Telephone Company’s (Siskiyou) Petition to Modify Decision 10-11-007, the Decision resolving Siskiyou’s 2009 General Rate Case. The Proposed Decision grants an increase of calendar year 2011 California High Cost Fund-A (CHCF-A) support by $47,619, to make up for an unexpected shortage in anticipated and actual Universal Service Fund (USF) funding. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Negative Declaration Adopted for Central Valley Independent Network’s ARRA/CASF-Funded Broadband Project
(Item 8, approved on consent agenda) – This Resolution adopts the final initial study and Negative Declaration under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prepared for Central Valley Independent Network (CVIN), in partnership with the Corporation for Education network Initiatives in California (CENIC)’s project to plan and install a fiber optic communications network in portions of California. The Resolution associated with this item is available here.
- Central Valley Telecom Granted Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
(Item 35, adopted on consent agenda) – This Proposed Decision grants Central Valley Telecom, LLC’s application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for authority to provide resold and facilities-based local exchange and interexchange services in the service territories of Pacific Bell Telephone Company, d/b/a/ AT&T California (AT&T), Verizon California Inc. (Verizon), SureWest Telephone (SureWest), and Citizens Telecommunications Company of California, Inc., d/b/a Frontier Communications of California (Frontier), and as a non-dominant interexchange carrier throughout California. By this Proposed Decision, Central Valley Telecom will also be able to use an expedited 21-day review process for projects that are potentially exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Metropolitan Telecommunications of California Granted Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity
(Item 37, adopted on consent agenda) – This Proposed Decision grants Metropolitan Telecommunications of California, Inc. d/b/a MetTel (MetTel) a CPCN to provide limited facilities-based and resold local exchange service as a competitive local California within Frontier territory, but requires MetTel to pay a penalty of $8,000 for failure to disclose that an affiliated entity had been sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eight times between 2002 and 2008. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- $373,490.17 Awarded to The Utility Reform Network, and $123,017.15 to Disability Rights Advocates, for Contributions to LifeLine Decisions
(Items 40 and 41, adopted on consent agenda) – This Proposed Decision awards intervenor compensation in the amount of $373,490.17 to The Utility Reform Network (TURN), and $123,017.15 to Disability Rights Advocates, for “substantial contributions” to two Commission decisions: (1) D.10-11-033 updating the low-income residential service statute (Moore Universal Telephone Service Act) to allow eligibility for technologies other than traditional wireline service to provide LifeLine service; and (2) D.08-06-020 addressing a comprehensive review of the Commission’s Telecommunications Public Policy Programs, specifically Payphone Programs, the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, and the California Teleconnect Fund. The awards will be paid from the Commission’s intervenor compensation fund. The Proposed Decisions associated with these item are available here (TURN) and here (DRA).
SIGNIFICANT HELD OR WITHDRAWN TELECOMMUNICATION ITEMS
- Proposed Decision to Reduce Fire Hazards with Overhead Power Lines and Communications Facilities
(Item 49, held to August 18, 2011 by President Peevey) – This Proposed Decision would adopt regulations intended to reduce fire hazards associated with power lines and aerial communication facilities located in close proximity to power lines. It would also: (1) establish a Phase 3 for the Consumer Protection and Safety Division to develop and submit a plan to collect data on power-line fires, analyze the data, and use the information to formulate measures to reduce the number of fires ignited by power lines, and develop and adopt further fire threat maps; (2) identify the regulatory mechanisms cost-of-service utilities should use to seek recovery of costs incurred in complying the regulations; and (3) deny parties’ requests to make undergrounding of power line facilities part of a new rulemaking proceeding. Whether to add fire risk as a trigger for undergrounding will be evaluated in utilities rate cases rather than in a separate, generic proceeding. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- OIR to Revise the Certification Process for Telephone Corporations and the Registrations Process for Wireless Resellers
(Item 5, held to August 18, 2011 by Staff) – This Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) would revise the requirements for telephone corporations seeking CPCNs under Public Utilities Code Section 1001, and commercial mobile radio telephone service providers (CMRS) seeking wireless reseller identification (WIR) registration under prior Commission decisions. No draft OIR was made available in connection with this item.
- Resolution to Revise GO 153 to Reflect Revisions to the California LifeLine Program
(Item 20, held until August 28, 2011 by Commissioner Peevey) – This Draft Resolution would revise General Order (GO) 153 to (1) incorporate changes necessary to implement the new Specific Support Amount method of carrier reimbursement requests, as discussed in Communications Division workshops held earlier this year, and (2) update California LifeLine program terminologies and adopt other administrative changes to reflect the new LifeLine subsidy methodology and claim system established in D.10-11-033. The revised version of GO 153 would be effective November 1, 2011, with the first month starting on November 1, 2011. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
- Commission Acts to Encourage Widespread Deployment and Use of Alternative-Fueled Vehicles in California
(Item 46, adopted 5-0) – This Decision adopts a series of actions that are designed to promote the use of electric vehicles, including: (1) directing electric utilities, automakers, and other stakeholders to collaborate regarding electric vehicle charging procedures; (2) confirming that existing utility residential, commercial and industrial rates are sufficient for early electric vehicle market development; (3) establishing a process to develop an electric vehicle metering protocol; (4) treating distribution or service facility upgrades necessary to accommodate residential electric vehicle charging as a shared cost; (5) requiring utilities to perform load research to inform future CPUC policy; and (6) addressing utility ownership of electric vehicle service equipment. The Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Commission Clarifies Conditions of Access to Market Sensitive Information (Item 45a, adopted 4-0
(Commissioner Florio abstaining) This Proposed Decision clarifies D.06-12-030, which adopted a procedure for protecting market sensitive information in Commission proceedings related to electric procurement programs from disclosure, by defining “market participants” and imposing additional restrictions (such as “reviewing representatives”). The Proposed Decision relaxes the rules for reviewing representatives, and includes outside attorneys, consultants, and experts provided that they abide by the Commission’s confidentiality requirements. Outside reviewing representatives may also be member or employees of firms that are also advising clients on energy issues, but only if they are subject to ethics walls (used by law firms to manage conflict-of-interest situations between different clients. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
MANAGEMENT AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
- Commissioner Florio introduced Elizabeth Podolinsky as his new telecommunications advisor. Ms. Podolinksy formerly served in DRA’s communications policy and water branches, and has an economics background.
- Commissioner Simon attended the Commission’s public participation hearing about the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger last week, and commended one speaker who pointed out that the proceeding was “not about philanthropy.” He noted some staff changes: (1) Paul Phillips, Commissioner Simon’s energy advisor, will leave his office to become the Supervisor of the Commission’s Energy Division Rate Design Section; and (2) Phyllis White, previously the CPUC’s Deputy Director for Telecommunications and Water Policy, will be Commissioner Simon’s Chief of Staff and also serve as his transportation advisor. Ms. White previously served as Commissioner Simon’s telecom and water advisor.
- Commissioner Sandoval had met with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to discuss changes in electrical grid and energy efficiency, and the TechNet Roundtable to discuss Smart Grid and nexus between energy and telecommunications matters. She also discussed her ongoing work on the analysis of proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. The first public participation hearing (PPH) was held on July 7th, and over 250 people attended. The first workshop on the proposed merger was held on July 8th in San Francisco, and focused on the proposed merger’s potential impact on competition, including on special access, spectrum access and roaming. The second workshop will focus on the proposed merger’s potential impact on innovation, and will include academic experts, mobile platform users, and market participants’ access to handsets, broadband, data access. The third PPH will be held July 21st in Los Angeles, and the final workshop will be held July 22nd in Los Angeles, and will focus on customer issues including price, service quality, customer service, disclosure, consumer issues, employees, and the economy. The last PPHs will be held July 25th in San Diego, and July 27th in Fresno. Further information on any of the workshops and PPHs is available here.
If you have questions about any of the above items, or the underlying proceedings in which they arose, please feel free to contact us.