On Thursday, March 12, 2009, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The meeting primarily concerned resolution of a Southern California Edison rate case. For forty-five minutes, representatives of small business organizations, community based organizations, unions, and employee groups addressed the Commission in favor of Commissioner Peevey’s alternate decision. This alternate decision, which was adopted by the Commission on a 4-1 vote, increased the utility’s revenue requirement more than the Administrative Law Judge’s proposed decision and was supported on the basis of the need for reliable infrastructure, job creation, and economic stimulus. Two items addressing California Advanced Service Fund grants were the main telecommunications-related matters on the agenda; these and other items of interest are summarized below.


  • AT&T, California (AT&T) and Citizens Telecommunications Company of California Inc. dba Frontier-California (Frontier). (Item 39, adopted 5-0) – The Commission approved California Advanced Services Fund (“CASF”) requests totaling $620,093 from AT&T and Frontier to cover forty percent of the total cost of seven uncontested broadband projects in “underserved” areas where high-speed Internet access at speeds of 3 megabytes per second download and 1 megabyte per second upload are currently unavailable. The projects would improve service to approximately 460 households. These were the first grants made for projects to improve broadband service to “underserved” areas, as compared to previous grants to bring broadband service to “unserved” areas. Communications Division Director Leutza stated that with the adoption of today’s CASF orders the Commission has approved grants of $9.1 million of the $25 million in CASF funds available in the current fiscal year. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/Cyberdocs/AgendaDoc.asp?DOC_ID=375500.

  • Willits Online LLC, and its subsidary Rural Broadband Now! LLC (Item 38, moved to and adopted on consent agenda) – This resolution approves funding for the Covelo and Laytonville Broadband Projects from the CASF amounting to $108,000 for Willits Online LLC, and its subsidiary Rural Broadband Now! LLC. These projects would provide broadband service to unserved areas. A recent draft of the Commission’s decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/Cyberdocs/AgendaDoc.asp?DOC_ID=374851.

  • Blue Casa Communications, Inc. vs. Pacific Bell Telephone Company, dba AT&T California (Item 23, adopted on consent agenda) – This modified Presiding Officer’s Decision finds that Blue Casa is obligated, under its interconnection agreement (ICA) with AT&T to pay for charges incurred for calls made by customers to 900 and 976 numbers. Accordingly, the decision finds that AT&T is owed $267,394.47 for the outstanding 900/976 charges, plus late payment fees, for calls made by Blue Casa’s end users between April 7, 2006 and February 7, 2008. Blue Casa’s appeal of the Presiding Officer’s Decision was denied for failure to set forth any legal or factual error. The Commission found that Blue Casa is responsible for the charges because it failed to order the appropriate blocking for the lines associated with the calls (many made by a single customer who was incurring approximately $10,000 per month in unpaid 900/976 charges) and waived its right to dispute some of these charges because it failed to submit a formal and timely objection in accordance with the ICA. A recent draft of the Commission’s decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/word_pdf/AGENDA_DECISION/96980.doc.

  • Intervenor Compensation Rates (Item 27, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission decided to retain the hourly rate ranges adopted in 2008 for purposes of intervenor compensation, declining to adopt a cost of living adjustment applicable to charges for work performed by intervenors in calendar year 2009. However, step increases for individual attorneys and experts based on an additional year of experience as provided for in the existing schedules may be included in 2009 intervenor compensation requests. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/Cyberdocs/AgendaDoc.asp?DOC_ID=376538.


  • Amendments to the Rules of Practice and Procedure (Item 4, held until the March 26, 2009, regular Commission meeting) – The amendments would update the Rules of Practice and Procedure to reflect administrative changes at the Commission, to provide consistency in the rules, and to provide greater clarity. In addition, the Commission codifies the interim rules for electronic filing of documents. A recent draft of this decision is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/Cyberdocs/AgendaDoc.asp?DOC_ID=368079.


  • Simon Report on Cristo Rey Network and Energy Bar Association — Commissioner Simon discussed potential CPUC participation in the Cristo Rey Network, an organization of schools giving students workplace experience and broadening their view of options for the future. He also mentioned his participation on a panel at the Energy Bar Association about the impact of California’s focus on renewable energy sources.

  • Bohn Report on Small Business Expo – Commissioner Bohn described an event to be presented by the CPUC and Sempra on April 30 in which procurement opportunities for small businesses to work on energy projects will be addressed.

  • Chong Report on Broadband Stimulus Funding – Commissioner Chong discussed her trip earlier this week to Washington, D. C., in connection with implementation by the NTIA and RUS of the broadband stimulus funding measures recently signed into law. NTIA will be holding public meetings starting later this month. In addition, workshops will be scheduled soon in connection with the State of California’s role in obtaining broadband stimulus funding. In addition, she announced future events on smart grid implementation and energy efficiency.

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