On June 3, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The telecommunications agenda was light, with no items of substance addressed on the regular agenda. The Commission opened up a rulemaking proceeding regarding whether to enable access to 2-1-1 dialing services during emergencies in counties where 2-1-1 has not been implemented under the current 2-1-1 rules. The Commission also took a position in support of the Fuentes LifeLine bill modifying the LifeLine program to accommodate the inclusion of wireless and other technologies. On the energy side, the CPUC approved two renewable energy contracts for Pacific Gas & Electric Company, furthering the State’s renewable energy goals. These and other telecommunications items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed in further detail below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
- Rulemaking Opened To Address Whether To Enable Emergency Access to 2-1-1 Services In Counties Without Existing 2-1-1 Functionality (Item 10, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants 2-1-1 California’s Petition to open a rulemaking to consider whether, and if so how, to enable emergency access to 2-1-1 services in counties without existing 2-1-1 capability and to designate 2-1-1 California the “lead entity” for 2-1-1 services. 2-1-1 California is a joint endeavor of the California Association of Information and Referral Services and the United Way of California to implement 2-1-1 services across California. 2-1-1 is the national dialing code to be used to phone non-emergency community Information and Referral providers. Upon dialing 2-1-1, callers are routed to a referral service and agency that provides information concerning social services such as housing assistance, utility bills assistance, food assistance, and other non-urgent situations currently unaddressed by either 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 services. Opening comments on the Order Instituting Rulemaking are due on August 3, 2010. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Application Dismissed Seeking Approval of Default Rate for Termination of Intrastate, IntraMTA Traffic Originated by CMRS Carriers (Item 15, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision dismisses North County Communications Corporation’s (North County) application for approval of a default rate for termination of intrastate, intraMTA traffic originated by commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) carriers, on the grounds that (1) the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision that led to this application is currently under appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, and (2) the FCC has not indicated that it would use the results of the Commission’s deliberations in resolving the dispute between North County and MetroPCS California, LLC. The issue was brought before the Commission because the FCC has determined – in its 2005 T-Mobile Order – that compensation for CMRS traffic should be addressed through contracts rather than tariffs, but it has not set a clear path for resolving interconnection disputes between wireless carriers and non-incumbent LECs such as North County. The Proposed Decision proposing dismissal of North County’s application is available here.
- CPUC to Support Legislation to Update the Moore Universal Telephone Lifeline Service Program (Item 41, adopted on consent agenda) – AB 2213 (Fuentes) would update 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, giving the Commission more flexibility to expand Lifeline participation by deletion of references to “basic” telephone service and changing the term “residential” to “household.” The Commission will support this Legislation, and, if the legislation is successful, it could pave the way for further Commission action to include wireless and possibly other technologies in the LifeLine program. The Legislative Subcommittee Memorandum associated with this item is available here.
- Statutory Deadline Extended in Proceeding Considering Changes to CPUC’s Application of CEQA to Telecommunications Utilities (R.06-10-006) (Item 25, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision extends the statutory deadline for the Commission’s consideration of CEQA reform in R.06-10-006 until August 16, 2010. In R.06-10-006, the Commission is evaluating changes to the CPUC’s application of CEQA to telecommunications utilities under its jurisdiction. As part of that inquiry, the Commission intends to develop rules and policies that will: (1) ensure that CPUC practices comply with current CEQA requirements and policies; (2) promote the development of an advanced telecommunications infrastructure, particularly as it applies to broadband facilities; and (3) ensure that application of CEQA in the telecommunications field does not cause undue harm to competition. Given the complexity of the issues in this rulemaking, this Decision extends the current statutory deadline of June 15, 2009 to August 16, 2010. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Compensation Granted to The Utility Reform Network (TURN) for Contributions to Decision 09-10-056 Approving Sale of Assets and Transfer of Customers from Verizon California, Inc. to Frontier Communications (Item 28, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission granted $20,816.50) in compensation to The Utility Reform Network (TURN) in connection with its contributions to D.09-10-056, the decision by which the Commission approved the application filed by Verizon California, Inc. (Verizon), Frontier Communications (Frontier), and their affiliated companies to sell certain assets and transfer customers from Verizon to Frontier. The Final Decision in this matter accepts a Settlement Agreement between the Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), TURN and the carriers that set forth the conditions for approval of the sale. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
- CPUC Approves Two Pacific Gas & Electric Contracts for Renewable Energy (Items 7, 14) – These proposed decisions approve 25-year power purchase agreements with (1) NextLight Renewable Power, LLC to procure renewable generation from the Agua Caliente Solar photovoltaic facility being developed in Yuma County, Arizona, and (2) DTE Stockton, LLC to procure generation from a fossil-to-biomass facility conversion project in Stockton. The Draft Resolution associated with Item 7 (NextLight) is unavailable, but the Draft Resolution associated with Item 14 (DTE Stockton) is available here.
SIGNIFICANT HELD AND WITHDRAWN ITEMS
- Determination of Ratemaking Treatment for Rural Telephone Bank Stock Redemption Proceeds (Item 2, held until June 24, 2010 by Staff) – 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 and shareholders’ principal investments in RTB stock. The revised Proposed Decision is available here.
- CPUC Position on Bill To Ensure All Applications for California Alternate Rates for Energy and Universal Lifeline Telephone Service programs Include Federal Earned Income Tax Credit Information (Item 45, held to June 24, 2010 by Staff)– SB 1154 (Cedillo) would require the CPUC to ensure that all applications to the California Alternate Rates for Energy and the Universal Lifeline Telephone Service programs include information about the applicant’s eligibility to qualify for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
- CPUC Position on Bill to Require Local Telephone Corporations to Provide Every Subscriber of Tariffed Residential Basic Exchange Service with Access to 9-1-1 Emergency Service (Item 46, held to June 24, 2010 by Staff) – SB 1375 (Price) would require local telephone corporations to provide every subscriber of tariffed residential basic exchange service, rather than every existing and newly installed residential telephone connection, with access to “911” emergency service. This would modify the current “warmline” requirements under Public Utilities Code Section 2883.
NOTES AND COMMISSIONER REPORTS
- Bohn Report on Western States Meeting – Commissioner Bohn stated that he would be hosting the 2010 Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners from June 13-16, 2010 in Ojai, California. The focus of this year’s conference will be “Greening the Wild West – It’s More Than You Think“, and the apparent goal is to sensitize commissioners to regional problems with the transmission system. A full description of the Conference Agenda is available here: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/NR/rdonlyres/02A87B0D-1E2C-44C2-8C32-5CABD3E8E6B7/0/WCPSCJune1.pdf.