June 26, 2021 - The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) reports on Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted a third round of Guidelines governing electric utility planning, notification, and mitigation of de-energization events, also known as PSPS. These Phase 3 Guidelines build upon, and improve, guidelines developed in 2019 and 2020 in light of past PSPS experiences.
The new guidelines:
- Expand the universe of critical facilities and infrastructure that utilities must notify in advance of a PSPS event and for which utilities must help assess the need for backup generation. The definition now includes local elections operations, food banks, shelters, and independent living centers.
- Establish clearer expectations for the siting of and services provided by utility Community Resource Centers, including clearer direction for utility consultation with and incorporation of suggestions made by local governments.
- Significantly enhance utility efforts to mitigate PSPS impacts on medically sensitive residents, including through the provision of backup batteries, transportation assistance, and accommodations, as appropriate.
- Greatly improve pre-season planning and post-event/post season reporting of PSPS events for greater transparency and accountability.
RCRC submitted extensive comments on the proposed decision and made several suggested changes to strengthen the guidelines and ensure that the CPUC signals its future role in continuing to review the necessity and conduct of future PSPS events. In particular, the CPUC incorporated RCRC’s suggestions to:
- Ensure that utilities must mitigate PSPS impacts for medically sensitive customers, rather than simply informing them where to access information and support during a PSPS event in lieu of providing actual mitigation assistance.
- Ensure that utilities inform the CPUC of the maximum amount of time customers went without power during PSPS events.
- Resolve ambiguities about the extent to which utilities must notify paratransit agencies of customers who may need PSPS assistance.
- Recast several passages in the decision to demonstrate the CPUC’s continued role in overseeing the necessity and conduct of future PSPS events. This is especially important considering the imminent shift of responsibility for review of utility wildfire mitigation plans from the CPUC to the new Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety at the California Natural Resources Agency.
The CPUC also agreed to consolidate all the existing PSPS Guidelines and Decisions into a single document, as suggested by the Joint Local Governments, RCRC, and other stakeholders. For more information, contact John Kennedy, RCRC Legislative Advocate, by email or call 916-447-4806.
Source: Rural County Representatives of California