On July 28, 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The Commission adopted revisions to General Order 153 to reflect reforms to the California Lifeline program, effective November 11, 2011. The only item on the regular agenda was an energy item related to privacy and security measures that will be implemented to protect consumer data generated from electric companies’ Smart Meter programs. These and other items of interest on the Commission’s public agenda are discussed in further detail below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
- GO 153 Revised to Reflect Updates to the California LifeLine Program
(Item 6, adopted on consent agenda) – This Draft Resolution revises General Order (GO) 153 to (1) incorporate changes necessary to implement the new Specific Support Amount method of carrier reimbursement requests and (2) update California LifeLine program terminologies and implement other administrative changes including the removal of the claim form and timeline for processing California LifeLine qualifications, to reflect the new LifeLine subsidy methodology and claim system established in D.10-11-033. The revised version of GO 153 will be effective December 1, 2011, and the final day for which bad debt will be recoverable is November 30, 2011. The revised Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
- America Net, LLC Permitted to Withdraw Application for CPCN, With Conditions on Future Filings
(Item 20, adopted on consent agenda) – This Proposed Decision grants America Net, LLC’s (America Net) motion to withdraw its application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to provide resold non-facilities-based interexchange telecommunications services statewide. America Net’s motion followed a protest by the Commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) alleging that America Net had failed to disclose certain information to the Commission in its application for a CPCN, and that America Net had failed to inform the Commission of previous slamming-related violations. The Commission here requires America Net to disclose its application for a CPCN and the circumstances surrounding its withdrawal in any future application for a CPCN. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Verizon California’s Requests for Deviation from Undergrounding Rules Granted
(Items 22, 25, adopted on consent agenda) – These Resolutions grant Verizon California Inc.’s (Verizon) requests for deviations from Public Utilities Code Section 320, which requires that all communications facilities or electric utilities within 1,000 feet of a California Scenic Highway be undergrounded. Verizon placed overhead distribution facilities and fiber optic lines along Highway 395 in Mono County without first obtaining deviations from the CPUC, but Verizon then sought the required deviations through advice letters that led to these Resolutions. For the overhead lines, the item 22 approves Verizon’s request upon (1) payment of a $5,000 fine; (2) mitigation of glare from aluminum cable dampers, (3) completion of an audit for General Order 95 compliance, and (4) implementation of a plan for working with local, state and federal agencies regarding future construction of overhead distribution facilities. For the fiber optic facilities, item 25 approves Verizon’s request upon (1) payment of a $5,000 fine, (2) application for a California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grant to add necessary facilities to extend fiber deployment to currently underserved communities of Swall Meadows and Crowley Lake, and (3) submission of the implementation plan noted above. The Draft Resolution associated with item 22 is available here. The Draft Resolution associated with item 25 is available here.
- Statutory Deadline Extended in Case Alleging AT&T California’s Violation of Tariff Rule 15
(Item 27, adopted on consent agenda) – This Proposed Decision extends the Commission’s deadline to resolve an adjudicatory matter involving Pacific Bell Telephone Company dba AT&T California (AT&T)’s alleged violation of its Tariff Rule 15. AT&T’s Rule 15 requires AT&T to pay reasonable reimbursement to developers who install infrastructure to connect their developments to AT&T’s network. Complainants allege that AT&T failed to provide the appropriate reimbursement. The Proposed Decision extends the statutory deadline to February 27, 2012, to accommodate time constraints and the complex issues in the matter. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Statutory Deadline Extended in Adjudicatory Cases Involving Fones4All Corporation Due to Bankruptcy Stay
(Items 38, 39 adopted on consent agenda) – These Proposed Decisions extend the 12-month statutory deadlines for resolution of two proceedings involving Fones4All. In one dispute, XO Communications Services, Inc. (“XO”) alleges that Fones4All Corporation (“Fones4All”) owes XO for switching and transport services related to the migration of Fones4All’s customers to AT&T California and Telscape Communications, Inc. In the other proceeding, Fones4All has challenged AT&T California’s billing practices. Fones4All filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2008, which automatically stayed both cases. The Commission therefore extends the 12-month statutory deadlines for resolving the proceedings until December 2, 2011 to accommodate the stay. The Proposed Decision associated with item 38 is available here. The Proposed Decision associated with item 39 is available here.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
- Commission Implements Rules to Protect the Privacy and Security of Electricity Usage Data Generated by Smart Meters
(Item 41, adopted on regular agenda) – This Decision adopts detailed rules to protect the privacy and security of the electricity usage data generated from Smart Meters deployed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E). The Decision was the only item on the Commission’s regular agenda, and was uniformly lauded by the Commissioners. The Rules apply to PG&E, SCE and SDG&E, and also to companies that assist those utilities in their operations, companies under contract with the utilities, and companies that gain access to the customer’s usage data directly from the utility. The Decision also adopts policies governing access to customer usage data by customers and authorized third parties, mandating that utilities provide pricing, usage and cost data in “customer-friendly manners. In addition, the Decision requires that the utilities work with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in developing a methodology to make wholesale prices available to customers on the utilities’ websites.
The Commissioners noted that the adopted standards both confirm and conform to national security principles adopted by Homeland Security and recommended by the Federal Trade Commission, and that these rules are the first in the nation to do so in connection with a Smart Meter program. Commissioner Peevey expressed that this was a fundamental step in expanding the use of Smart Meters and the Smart Grid in California. He expects that this will increase customer confidence that Smart Meters would enhance their utility service without compromising their privacy, and encourage innovation in the private sector. Commissioner Simon likened the Smart Meter privacy issues to the financial services industry reconciliation of privacy laws in the 1990s – that the more restrictions which are placed on data, the more it benefits the incumbents or holders of data, acting as a barrier against more competitive products coming into the marketplace, with a potential detrimental effect on consumers. Commissioner Simon and other Commissioners shared consumer groups’ concerns regarding “actionable data”, i.e. , giving consumers the data they can best utilize. Commissioner Simon also stated his disappointment in the Smart Meter industry in general, noting the cavalcade of public speakers over the last year against installation of the Smart Meters, without any company speaking in support of the Smart Meters potential as “amazing technology.”
The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
MANAGEMENT AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
- Commissioner Sandoval reportedprogress on the Commission’s analysis of the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger. So far, there have been three workshops, held in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles, respectively. The workshops have focused on the potential impact on competition, service, innovation, price, service quality, customer service, disclosure, consumer issues, employees, and the economy. Sandoval noted the overwhelming public interest in the merger, with over 200 people in attendance at each workshop, and over 100 speakers.
If you have questions about any of the above items, or the underlying proceedings in which they arose, please feel free to contact us.