BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1453


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          Date of Hearing:  May 6, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


          AB  
          1453 (Rendon) - As Amended April 20, 2015


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          No


          SUMMARY:  


          This bill requires the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to  
          adopt a rule regulating work performed in underground electrical  
          facilities by electrical corporations consistent with specified  








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          worker safety protections.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires the PUC, by January 1, 2017, to adopt a rule  
            regulating work performed in underground electrical facilities  
            by or on behalf of an electrical corporation, to prohibit work  
            directly on energized underground electrical equipment, and  
            require a qualified electrical worker to determine that  
            underground electrical equipment is safe to work on, as  
            specified.


          2)Defines underground electrical equipment as equipment  
            energized in excess of 600 volts.


          3)Defines underground electrical facility to mean a vault,  
            manhole, or other subsurface confined structure.


          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Increased costs over a two-year period of $157,000 (special  
          fund) for an PUC Administrative Law Judge to conduct the  
          rulemaking.


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, high voltage electrical  
            work, defined as more than 600 volts, is inherently dangerous.  
             When this work is performed in confined spaces, like  
            underground vaults, it can be fatal if not done properly.   
            Even if not fatal, high-voltage electrical contact can produce  
            devastating physical trauma.  

            The purpose of this legislation is to increase safety in  








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            underground utility vaults and thereby reduce injuries and  
            fatalities.

          2)Background.  Current law authorizes the PUC to require every  
            public utility to construct, maintain, and operate their  
            equipment in a manner to promote and safeguard the health and  
            safety of its employees, passengers, customers, and the  
            public.   
             
            PUC Rule 20 sets policies and procedures for the conversion of  
            overhead power lines and other equipment to underground  
            facilities.  Under Rule 20, undergrounding projects are  
            financed by utility rate money, combined with rate funds,  
            local tax proceeds, or private funds.  

             PUC General Order (GO) 128 establishes rules for the  
            construction of underground electric supply and communication  
            systems.  GO 128 requires that systems be maintained in such  
            condition as to secure safety for workmen and the public.   
            Additonally, according to GO 128, any work performed on  
            communication facilities in substructures that contain  
            energized electrical facilities must be performed by qualified  
            personnel, under the supervision of a qualified electrical  
            worker.  

            GO 128 defines qualified to mean qualified by training and  
            experienced to be competent to work on and recognize the  
            hazards and exposure involved in the lines and equipment  

            However, despite these rules to ensure safe working conditions  
            around electrified lines in underground vaults, there continue  
            to be deaths each year as a result of workers coming into  
            contact with such lines.




          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Galehouse / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081








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