On Monday, March 29th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held an all-day workshop to examine 2020 Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events, including convening a roundtable discussion with Access and Functional Needs stakeholders that focused on strategies to prepare for PSPS events, as well as a Local Government and Tribes Roundtable that discussed PSPS execution successes, challenges, and lessons learned last year and to look ahead for 2021. Among the Local Government panelists were RCRC Second Vice Chair Doug Teeter (Butte County), and Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins. Supervisor Teeter and Supervisor Hopkins shared their unique perspectives and experiences with PSPS events, such as how it limits the ability to respond to other emergencies, as well as the added challenges and concerns with rebuilding communities devastated by wildfires. 

RCRC recently submitted comments responding to multiple parties in the De-Energization Proceeding. While generally supporting most of the proposed additions and modifications to the PSPS guidelines, RCRC strongly urged the CPUC to:

  • Drive utilities to undertake the system improvements necessary to phase out of the use of PSPS events as a risk management tool;
  • Consolidate and codify into one single document all the existing decisions, resolutions, and other guidelines governing PSPS events; 
  • Establish criteria for the Commission to evaluate the efficacy and reasonableness of PSPS events and ensure that they are truly used as a last resort when no other options are available to reduce the risk of utility-caused wildfire; 
  • Assess public safety risks and economic impacts resulting from each PSPS event; and 
  • Establish a claims process for customers, critical facilities, and local governments for de-energization related losses.

RCRC continues to urge CPUC to do more than finetune an unacceptable status quo through numerous proceedings related to PSPS events.