On June 15, RCRC joined CSAC, the Counties of Kern, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Sonoma, the Cities of San Jose and Santa Rosa, several communications providers, and disability rights advocates in submitting a Motion to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) urging the Commission to determine whether utility decisions to initiate last year’s PSPS events were reasonable. The motion also urges the CPUC to evaluate the reasonableness of implementation of those PSPS events.
Last year, utilities conducted dozens of PSPS events that impacted well over two million Californians. In some cases, the loss of electricity was paired with gas shutoffs and resulted in widespread communications outages that jeopardized public safety and emergency response. On June 8, the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Decision (SED) issued a public report on last year’s PSPS events. While that report outlined a number of serious problems associated with utility actions in those events, it stopped well short of determining whether the utilities acted reasonably in either determining to shut off power or in the actual implementation of those events. The SED noted that such an undertaking would require much more information than was readily available in the utility post-event reports, gleaned through stakeholder feedback, and received from the utilities.
While the SED Report is helpful to highlight much-needed utility improvements, a more thorough evaluation of the reasonableness of utility actions is vital to provide guidance to utilities in when and how they conduct future PSPS events.