On September 22, 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting. The telecommunications agenda included a modification to the NDIEC performance bond requirement, a revision to the CASF surcharge rate of 0.14%, an update to the Specific Support Amount subsidy for California’s LifeLine program, and the approval of Frontier’s Del Norte CASF grant application.  The Proposed Decision in the fire safety proceeding (R.08-11-005) has been revised, but the item was held until the next meeting.  Siskiyou Telephone’s Godfrey Ranch Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure grant was also held for one meeting.  These and other items of interest on the Commission’s public agenda are discussed in further detail below.



  • NDIEC Performance Bond Requirements Revised
    (Item 12, adopted on consent agenda) – This Decision grants the Division of Ratepayers Advocates’ unopposed request to modify Decision 10-09-017, which added a performance bond requirement for NDIECs who received authority under the Commission’s expedited registration process in D.10-09-017.  By this Decision, the Commission requires that a performance bond be available to address the non-payment of taxes or fees or both, in addition to the previous categories of fines, penalties and restitution related to enforcement actions that were previously approved.  The Proposed Decision is available here.


  • Revised CASF Surcharge Rate of 0.14% Adopted Effective November 1, 2011 
    (Item 21, adopted on consent agenda) – This Resolution revises the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) surcharge rate from 0.00% to 0.14%. The Communications Division estimates that revenue collections for the CASF from November 1, 2011 to December 31, 2012 will reach approximately $33.973 million.  Excess revenue of $15.59 million was collected in 2008-2009, so the total surcharge collection for the 14-month period will total $49,563,000, which is slightly lower than the cap limit of $50 million for calendar years 2011 and 2012. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.


  • Updates to Specific Support Amount Subsidy for California LifeLine Program
    (Item 22, adopted on consent agenda) – This Draft Resolution (a) calculates the Specific Support Amount (SSA) to be effective January 1, 2012 using on basic rates for URF ILECs reported effective July 31, 2011, (b) clarifies the means by which the SSA will be computed and how that information will be distributed to the California LifeLine Service Providers in future years, and (c) makes minor corrections to General Order 153. The SSA process is the subsidy methodology and claim system for California LifeLine Service Providers, which provides up to the SSA for every subscriber reported by the California LifeLine Administrator.  The methodology in this Resolution is consistent with the discussion of the SSA implementation in workshops held by the Commission staff earlier this year. The Draft Resolution associated with this item is available here.


  • $68,168 CASF Grant Approved for Frontier’s Del Norte Underserved Broadband Project (Item 17, adopted on consent agenda) – The Commission approved California Advanced Services Fund (“CASF”) funding of $68,168 to Frontier Communications West Coast, Inc. (“Frontier West Coast”) for its Del Norte Underserved Broadband Project, representing 40% of the total project cost.  The proposed project will extend high-speed internet service over a 16 square mile area through the expansion of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) deployment into the remote areas of Frontier West Coast’s rural exchanges.  It will add DSL capability for 784 households in the Ship Ashore and FortDick areas of the SmithRiver exchange and the PacificShores area of the CrescentCity exchange through the addition of a new optical fiber terminal and three Adtran DSLAMs.  The Draft Resolution is available here.



  • Proposed Decision to Reduce Fire Hazards with Overhead Power Lines and Communications Facilities
    (Item 39, held to October 6, 2011 by Commissioner Simon) – This Proposed Decision would adopt regulations to address concerns about fire hazards associated power lines and aerial communication facilities located in close proximity to power lines.  It would also:  (1) establish a Phase 3 to provide a forum for the Consumer Protection and Safety Division to develop and submit a plan to collect data on power-line fires, analyze the data, and use the information to formulate measures to reduce the number of fires ignited by power lines, and develop and adopt fire threat maps; (2) identify the regulatory mechanisms cost-of-service utilities should use to seek recovery of costs incurred in complying the regulations; and (3) deny parties’ requests to make undergrounding of power-line facilities part of a new rulemaking proceeding rather than addressing the issue in utilities’ general rate cases.

    The Proposed Decision was revised earlier this week to eliminate a requirement that carriers “mark” all their poles with the owners’ identity, eliminate certain references to a claim that communications infrastructure facilities cause fires, and slightly change to the pole-loading requirements, among other matters.  A copy of the revised Proposed Decision is available here, and a redlined version is available here.


  • $1.4 Million in Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure Grant Program Funding for Construction of Godfrey Ranch Project (Item 24, held by Florio until 10/20/11 for further review) – This Draft Resolution would authorize funding from the Rural Telecommunications Infrastructure grant program to construct the Godfrey Ranch Line Extension Grant Project near the town of Fort Jones.  If approved, Siskiyou Telephone would install telecommunication cables to this currently-unserved area.  By this Draft Resolution, $1,444,100 in California High Cost Fund-A funds would be allocated to the project.  The Draft Resolution is available here.


  • OIR to Revise the Certification Process for Telephone Corporations and the Registrations Process for Wireless Resellers
    (Item 3, held to October 6, 2011 by Staff) – This proposed Order Instituting Rulemaking (OIR) would revise the requirements for telephone corporations seeking CPCNs and commercial mobile radio telephone service (CMRS) providers seeking wireless reseller identification (WIR) registration pursuant to prior Commission decisions. The description of this item on the Commission’s agenda indicates that the OIR could result in higher application and registration fees for CPCN-holders and WIRs.  Existing certificated carriers could also incur additional undetermined costs associated with expanded background check and performance bond requirements.  No draft OIR has been made available in connection with this item.


  • Verizon’s Requested Deviations From Undergrounding Rules Along Scenic Highway 395 in Mono County
    (Item 5, held to October 6, 2011 by Staff) – This Draft Resolution would grant Verizon California Inc.’s (Verizon) requests to deviate from Public Utilities Code Section 320, which requires undergrounding of communications facilities within 1,000 feet of a scenic highway. Verizon requested the deviation following its construction of approximately 65,000 feet of aerial facilities from the junction of State Route 108 to north of Bridgeport.  The Commission’s Draft Resolution grants the request but imposes a $5,000 penalty on Verizon for violating Section 320.  The Draft Resolution is available here.


  • Expanded Rule 10 Service Lists for Advice Letter Filings
    (Item 13, held to October 6, 2011 by Staff) – This Draft Resolution would amend the General Order 96-B Telco Industry Rules to require utilities filing Advice Letters to serve (i) adjacent and competing utilities; (2) other persons as directed by the Director of the Communications Division for particular Advice Letters; (3) The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN); and (4) other utilities or persons requesting such notification. It would also require utilities to maintain online service lists for (1) interconnection agreements, (2) changes in rates, terms and conditions, or initiation of new service, (3) Eligible Telecommunication Carrier designation requests, (4) Compliance filings, (5) General Rate Case filings, and (6) grant applications. This expansion of the service requirements is intended to facilitate opportunities for comment by interested parties and the public.  On September 13, 2011, the Draft Resolution was re-released for comment.  Comments are due on the revised Draft Resolution on September 28, 2011.  The revised Draft Resolution is available here.



  • Commissioner Florio spoke about the CPUC’s renewed encouragement of whistleblower efforts by employees of public utilities, noting that they served a valuable function for the CPUC.  He referenced an updated whistleblower FAQ page on the Commission’s website, located here . In an ongoing attempt to make the Commission’s activities more apparent to the public, Commissioner Florio noted upcoming public participation hearings in Southern California to discuss increases in San DiegoGas & Electric and Southern California Gas rates, a September 26-27 hearing in Sacramento on how the Commission and gas utilities interact with first responders and how such interactions may be improved, as well as a meeting of the Low Income Oversight Board on September 26.


  • Commissioners Simon spoke about his participation on a panel addressing the importance of broadband adoption and closing the digital divide in underserved communities at this month’s “One Million New Internet Users in 2011” Silicon Valley Conference. He noted the lack of public participation in the LifeLine Awareness Week event in Sacramento, suggesting that the CPUC needed to do a better job of “getting the word out” regarding its events.


  • Commissioner Sandoval noted that the Department of Justice has set a trial date on the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger for February 13, 2012, and that the Commission would be reevaluating the timeline of its inquiry into the merger accordingly. She also participated in the One Million New Internet Users Conference with Commissioner Simon, and has recently been appointed to the FCC Committee to Improve Broadband. She met with FCC commissioners and staff in a trip to Washington, D.C. earlier this month, and spoke at an FCC Bar Association panel about universal service fund and interexchange carrier compensation reforms, and their impacts on rural areas. In a presentation regarding the causes of the recent power outages in San Diego, Commissioner Sandoval noted a specific interest in the damages that were caused to customers’ telecommunications equipment.


  • Commissioner Ferron and President Peevey spoke about the recent legislative gutting of funding for energy efficiency programs in California, which are set to decrease about 25% as of January 2012. President Peevey noted that he would do everything in his power to ensure that the Commission’s public good charge continue into next year without diminution, noting that the decrease in public funding was “close to criminal.”


  • Staff changes were announced, with Robert Haga (former telecommunications advisor to Commissioners Chong and Bohn) joining the legal division.


The next CPUC Meeting with be held in Los Angeles, with further information available here.

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