Amended in Assembly April 20, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 1453


Introduced by Assembly Member Rendon

February 27, 2015


begin deleteAn act to amend Section 1005.1 of the Public Utilities Code, relating to electricity. end deletebegin insertAn act to add Section 768.3 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to public utilities.end insert

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1453, as amended, Rendon. begin deleteElectrical transmission: certificates of public convenience and necessity. end deletebegin insertElectrical corporations: underground electrical facilities: worker safety.end insert

begin insert

The Public Utilities Act authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to require public utilities, including electrical corporations, to construct, maintain, and operate their facilities and equipment to promote and safeguard the health and safety of its employees. A violation of the Public Utilities Act, or any decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime.

end insert
begin insert

This bill would require the commission, by January 1, 2017, to adopt a rule regulating work performed in underground electrical facilities by, or on behalf of, an electrical corporation that is consistent with certain worker safety protections. Because a violation of the rule would be a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

end insert
begin insert

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

end insert
begin insert

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

end insert
begin delete

Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, as defined. The Public Utilities Act prohibits any electrical corporation from beginning the construction of, among other things, a line, plant, or system, or of any extension thereof, without having first obtained from the commission a certificate that the present or future public convenience and necessity require or will require that construction (certificate of public convenience and necessity). Existing law requires the commission to issue a decision on an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity within 18 months of the filing of a completed application if the application is for a certificate for building or upgrading an electrical transmission line that the commission finds necessary to provide transmission to load centers for electricity generated in a high-priority renewable energy zone or is reasonably necessary to facilitate achievement of the renewables portfolio standard established pursuant to the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program and the commission considers specified matter. The matter that the commission is required to consider includes the availability of cost-effective alternatives to transmission, such as energy efficiency measures and distributed generation.

end delete
begin delete

This bill would require the commission to consider the availability of cost-effective alternatives to transmission, such as energy efficiency or demand response measures and distributed generation.

end delete

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: begin deleteno end deletebegin insertyesend insert.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertSection 768.3 is added to the end insertbegin insertPublic Utilities
2Code
end insert
begin insert, to read:end insert

begin insert
3

begin insert768.3.end insert  

(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
4following:

5(1) Electrical equipment, including transformers and switches,
6housed in underground facilities, such as manholes and vaults,
7present an extremely hazardous working environment if work is
8attempted while the equipment is energized.

P3    1(2) There have been numerous fatalities and serious injuries
2when work has been performed in underground electrical facilities
3while the equipment was energized.

4(3) California has thousands of underground electrical facilities.
5The commission has provided electrical corporations with limited
6authority to avoid installing additional underground electrical
7facilities.

8(4) Work is performed in underground electrical facilities by
9both employees of the electrical corporation and by employees of
10outside contractors. Some of these employees do not have the
11technical training to know how to deenergize the equipment, to
12perform a hot scan or gas test, to determine if the equipment has
13been deenergized, and to make safe a confined space working
14environment. These employees can be at severe risk if electrical
15equipment is not properly deenergized and set to avoid
16automatically becoming reenergized.

17(5) Only a qualified electrical worker has the training and
18qualifications to ensure that an underground electrical facility has
19been fully deenergized and that it is safe to proceed with the work
20in the facility.

21(b) By January 1, 2017, the commission shall adopt a rule
22regulating work performed in underground electrical facilities by,
23or on behalf of, an electrical corporation that does all of the
24following:

25(1) Prohibits work directly on energized underground electrical
26equipment.

27(2) Requires a qualified electrical worker to determine that
28underground electrical equipment has been deenergized and is in
29a mode that would make the equipment safe to be worked on.

30(c) For the purposes of this section, the following terms mean
31the following:

32(1) “Qualified electrical worker” has the same meaning as set
33forth in Section 2700 of Title 8 of the California Code of
34Regulations.

35(2) “Underground electrical equipment” means equipment
36 energized in excess of 600 volts and all or part of the equipment
37is in an underground electrical facility.

38(3) “Underground electrical facility” means a vault, manhole,
39or other subsurface confined structure.

end insert
P4    1begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

end insert
begin insert

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
2Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
3the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
4district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
5infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
6for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of
7the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within
8the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
9Constitution.

end insert
begin delete
10

SECTION 1.  

Section 1005.1 of the Public Utilities Code is
11amended to read:

12

1005.1.  

(a) The commission shall issue a decision on an
13application for a certificate within 18 months of the date of filing
14of the completed application, when all of the following are true:

15(1) The application is for a certificate for building or upgrading
16an electrical transmission line that the commission finds necessary
17to provide transmission to load centers for electricity generated in
18a high priority renewable energy zone or is reasonably necessary
19to facilitate achievement of the renewables portfolio standard
20established in Article 16 (commencing with Section 399.11) of
21Chapter 2.3.

22(2) The commission has considered all of the following:

23(A) The utilization of rights-of-way by upgrading existing
24transmission facilities instead of building new transmission
25facilities, where technically and economically justifiable.

26(B) The expansion of existing rights-of-way, if technically and
27economically feasible, when construction of new transmission
28lines is required.

29(C) The creation of new rights-of-way when justified by
30environmental, technical, and economic reasons.

31(D) The availability of cost-effective alternatives to transmission,
32such as energy efficiency or demand response measures and
33distributed generation.

34(3) The commission has not expressly found any of the
35 following:

36(A) That the investment is not reasonable and necessary to
37maintain or enhance reliability of the transmission grid.

38(B) That the building or upgrading of the electrical transmission
39line will not maintain or enhance efficient use of the transmission
40grid.

P5    1(C) That the transmission line fails to meet other applicable
2standards and requirements for approval and construction.

3(b) An extension of time may be granted by the commission if
4it finds the extension is necessary for completion of review
5pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (Division
613 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources
7Code).

end delete


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