On June 26, 2008, the CPUC held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting was brief, and had no telecommunications matters on the regular agenda. There were two significant telecommunications-related held items, as set forth below, and the Commissioners engaged in a significant discussion regarding a controversial intervenor compensation matter. Further information about these and other items is provided below.
SIGNIFICANT HELD AND WITHDRAWN ITEMS
Phase III Decision in State Video Franchising Proceeding (Item 5, held by Simon until 7/10 for further review) — This proposed decision would adopt further amendments to the Commission’s rules and regulations surrounding state video franchising. This proposed decision in Phase III of docket R.06-10-005 would modify Commission General Order 169 in three respects. First, a section would be added to the General Order setting forth a procedure for entities to seek extensions of the build-out requirements under Public Utilities Code Section 5890(f)(1). Second, the proposed decision would clarify that corporate families with more than one state video franchise are not required to obtain bonding in excess of $500,000. Third, the proposed decision would add requirements that state video franchise holders report annually on broadband speed tiers made available to subscribers, in accordance the FCC’s broadband speed tier categories. The Phase III proposed decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/84536.doc.
Resolution of Backup Power / Emergency Notification Proceeding, AB 2393 (Items 41, 41a, held to accommodate comment on alternate) — This proposed decision and alternate would conclude the Commission’s inquiry into backup power and emergency notification issues, as part of docket R.07-04-015. This proceeding stems from a legislative mandate in AB 2393 that the Commission address these issues. Both the proposed decision and the alternate endorse the submission of a staff-prepared Final Analysis Report to the Legislature. The Final Analysis Report contains significant information about the availability of backup power in telecommunications networks, and about the manner in which telecommunications networks can be utilized along with other tools to warn customers of emergencies and provide information to customers during emergency situations. The chief difference between the proposed decision and the alternate is that the proposed decision would initiate a rulemaking to adopt standards regarding backup power with respect to fiber-to-the-premises (“FTTP”) arrangements. The alternate, sponsored by Commissioner Chong, would rely instead on consumer education to ensure that customers are informed about backup power issues related to FTTP services. The proposed decision is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/EFILE/PD/84289.pdf. The alternate is available at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/efile/ALT/84473.pdf.
Controversial Intervenor Compensation Award to Landowners in Connection with PacifiCorp Transmission Line Conversion Project ((Item 33, held by Bohn until 7/10 for further consideration) — A significant debate erupted in connection with this item, which would have awarded intervenor compensation to a husband and wife based on “substantial contributions” to a PacifiCorp siting project. The applicants for intervenor compensation participated in the proceeding primarily to protect their property interests, but the ALJ concluded in the proposed decision that they raised broader community and environmental issues that made them eligible for intervenor compensation. A discussion of this item revealed that there is significant concern amongst the Commissioners regarding the scope and operation of the intervenor compensation program generally. Even though the item was originally on the consent agenda, after significant discussion, the Commissioners voted unanimously to hold the item at Commissioner Bohn’s request. The proposed decision under consideration, as currently written, is attached at the following link: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/83502.doc .
NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
Simon Reports on First Responder Roundtable — Commissioner Simon reported briefly on a “roundtable” that he held on June 20, 2008 to discuss emergency notification and coordination issues with law enforcement representatives and first responders. As Simon noted, this meeting was a follow-up to the meeting earlier in the year addressing how utilities and local officials responded during the 2007 Southern California “firestorms.” Simon offered high praise for both the first responders and the utilities, nothing that service providers did an excellent job of keeping networks operational during the fires. Simon also emphasized that the Commission can and should take a critical role in helping effect policies in the emergency response and emergency alert arena. Simon remarked that he “firmly believe(s) that the CPUC is uniquely positioned to ensure that communications systems and operations within the state are sufficiently resilient to satisfy the extraordinary demands that arise during emergencies.” Simon noted that the “reverse 911” mechanisms employed in San Bernardino County during the 2007 fires were the single largest use of the technology. In conclusion, Simon mentioned that something should be done to address the “high level of inaccurate phone numbers” that are provided by telephone companies to law enforcement. Simon further suggested that an OIR might be opened to further address “reverse 911” coordination.
Joe Camicia Departing the Commission to Become the Chief of Staff to the New State Chief Information Officer — Commissioner Chong provided a brief tribute to Joe Camicia, who will now be working with California’s recently-appointed Chief Information Officer, Teri Takai. Camicia had been the Governor’s CPUC advisor, and had worked closely with the Commissioner offices on various matters to push forward the Governor’s agenda.