On September 2, 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. Among the telecommunications matters, the Commission announced sweeping changes to the registration process for non-dominant interexchange carriers (NDIECs). On the energy side, the Commission took substantial public comments about and released the results of an independent evaluation of Pacific Gas & Electric’s smart meter billing system instituted in response to consumer claims of overbilling. The evaluation found no technical flaws with the metering system – just customer service issues. These and other items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed in further detail below.
REGULAR AND CONSENT AGENDA ITEMS
- $2,169,815 in CASF Contingent Funding Awarded for Redwood Telephone LLC’s Northern California Open Community Fiber Network Project (Item 5, adopted on consent agenda) – This Resolution adopts $2,169,815 in contingent CASF funding for Redwood Telephone LLC’s (Redwood) Northern California Open Community Fiber Network Project in Humboldt County. The Open Community Project stretches along the upper Northern California coastline from the Brookings, Oregon, border south to Benbow, California, and includes an additional segment running east from Blue Lake to Willow Creek and north to unserved areas. The proposed project would potentially serve underserved and unserved communities in these areas with 1 Gbps secure private transport, carrier-based Ethernet, and wholesale high-speed broadband internet. The grant is contingent upon Redwood being able to obtain 80% in ARRA funding. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
- Calaveras Telephone Company’s Petition to Modify General Rate Case to Correct Errors Granted (Item 17, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants, in part, Calaveras Telephone Company’s (Calaveras) application to modify Resolution T-17184, the decision in its General Rate Case (GRC) to correct calculation errors. In its application, Calaveras alleged six calculation/methodological errors. The Decision modifies the Resolution to make calculation changes to (1) salary and benefits for an additional accountant, (2) salary and benefits for additional central office and outside plant technicians, (3) depreciation expense amounts, and (4) the elasticity factor for business call forwarding. The Decision denies Calaveras’s methodological objections regarding (1) rent expense, and (2) calculation of the actual employee salary to benefits ratio. The impact of the Decision is an increase in the California High Cost Fund-A draw for Calaveras in the amount of $77,804. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Order Dismissing Complaint Against AT&T California (Item 18, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision dismisses a consumer complaint against Pacific Bell Telephone Company, dba AT&T California (AT&T) for a refund of discontinued services. The complainant failed to comply with certain prehearing requirements and did not contact the assigned Administrative Law Judge to explain that failure. Accordingly, the Decision dismisses the complaint for failure to prosecute the case. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- CPCN Granted to Crexendo Business Solutions, Inc. (Item 21, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants a CPCN to Crexendo Business Solutions, Inc. (Crexendo) to provide limited facilities-based and resold competitive local exchange services in the service territories of AT&T, Frontier, SureWest Telephone/SureWest Communications, and Verizon California, Inc. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Commission Revises Requirements for Registration of Non-Dominant Interexchange Carriers (Item 35, adopted on consent agenda) — This Decision adopts changes to the rules for registration of non-dominant interexchange carriers (NDIECs). The Decision: (1) renames the authorization granted through the registration process to be a “registration license;” (2) requires all registrants to post a bond (equal to or greater than 10 percent of intrastate revenues reported to the Commission during the preceding calendar year or $25,000, whichever is greater); (3) requires registration license applicants to provide resumes of all key officers, directors, and owners of 10% or more of outstanding shares and to provide information on prior or current investigations by governmental agencies, including any settlement agreements, voluntary payments, or any other type of monetary forfeitures; (4) requires applicants seeking to transfer registration licenses to verify compliance with Commission reporting, fee, and surcharge transmittals; (5) increases the application fee for new and transferred registration licenses from $75 to $250; and (6) establishes a minimum annual user fee of $100 for NDIEC registration licensees, including those reporting no intrastate revenues. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- $75.207 Million California Teleconnect Fund Budget Approved, and Community College Cap Increased to $8.299 Million for 2011-2012 (Item 36, adopted on consent agenda)— This Resolution adopts a budget of $75.207 million for fiscal year 2011-2012 for the California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) Program, and sets a cap of $8.299 million for CTF discounts available to California community colleges for that fiscal year. The CTF program is funded by a surcharge assessed by wireline and wireless carriers on intrastate telecommunication services (currently at .079%). The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.
SIGNIFICANT ENERGY ITEMS
- PG&E Advanced Smart Metering Assessment Report Issued by The Structure Group (Item 40) – The Commission retained an independent consultant, The Structure Group, to evaluate PG&E’s advanced (smart) metering and billing systems. The Structure Group presented a summary of its findings to the Commission. The report concluded that PG&E’s smart meters are working as planned, but that the company failed to “notify customers about the meter installations, failed to address their concerns about new technology and lacked stringent bill quality control.” A copy of the report is available here.
- $14.6 Million in Funding for California Solar Initiative RD&D Program Approved (Item 22, adopted on regular agenda) – This Decision approves nine grants totaling up to $14.6 million in funding for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Research, Development, Deployment, and Demonstration (RD&D) Program’s second round of grant solicitations focusing on improved photovoltaic (PV) production technologies and innovative business practices. The Proposed Decision associated with this item is available here.
- Commissioner Simon spoke extensively about the California Telehealth Network going live last week. The first four facilities include U.C. Davis, U.C. Irvine, and two hospitals. There will be over 800 connected health care facilities after the initial phase of the network is completed in 2013, including rural facilities all over the state.