October 29, 2019
President Marybel Batjer
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, California 94102
RE: Consumer Protection Rules on Planned Electric Outages
Dear President Batjer:
AARP has more than 3.3 million members in California, all of whom expect reliable, safe, and affordable utility service. Our members know that reliable and safe utility service is absolutely essential to their health, safety, and economic well-being. Unfortunately, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has not met this expectation.
After experiencing the consequences of PG&E's failure to safely and adequately execute on its recent de-energization outages, AARP strongly believes that the California Public Utility Commission (“Commission” or “CPUC") should further revise its service-quality and consumer-protection regulations to protect Californians during future planned electric outages.
AARP urges the CPUC to adopt a minimum set of accountability standards for all regulated electric utilities, including clear protocols designed to protect Californians during planned outages, especially those customers who are most vulnerable.
Further, the CPUC should require that electric utilities ensure timely and accessible communications to all customers prior to any planned outage. The Commission should also regularly compile and report service-quality data in order to ensure that utilities are adhering to all requirements. The Commission should additionally establish rights and protections for consumers, ensuring access to complaint histories and other key data that measure the performance of electric utilities during planned outages.
Finally, the health and safety of vulnerable Californians such as those living in nursing or assisted living facilities, as well as those with disabilities, must be protected during planned outages. To this end, the CPUC should require utilities to coordinate with relevant agencies and resources that can help prevent harm to at-risk individuals during these outages and, if they fail to meet this requirement, the Commission should impose financial penalties to enforce these critical requirements.
We were disappointed with the plans shared by PG&E executives at the recent emergency public hearing held by the CPUC on Friday, October 18th. We are not at all confident that PG&E’s plans and actions will improve without the CPUC establishing clear standards and rules that hold them and other utilities accountable.
AARP supports the Commission’s ongoing efforts to hold PG&E accountable for its recent failures, and we strongly urge the Commission to establish the regulations outlined above to help ensure the future health and safety of millions of Californians.
Commissioner Liane Randolph
Commissioner Martha Guzman-Aceves
Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen
Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma
This story is provided by AARP California. Visit the AARP California page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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