Crown Castle won’t have to wait for new PG&E pole attachment terms, CPUC says

by Steve Blum • , , ,

PG&E wants a do-over on a utility pole access decision by the California Public Utilities Commission, but it’ll have to comply with it in the meantime. Wednesday, the CPUC’s executive director refused to delay execution of an arbitrated contract between PG&E and Crown Castle while commissioners decide what they’re going to do with the appeal filed by PG&E last month.

The CPUC’s decision gives PG&E 45 days to approve or deny Crown Castle’s pole attachment requests. If the shot clock expires, Crown Castle can move ahead without permission and install fiber lines on PG&E poles. It also requires PG&E to keep Crown Castle informed of other attachment requests, but allows Crown Castle to work on its own lines without giving PG&E advance notice, so long as no electrical shutoffs are needed. A few days after the commission unanimously approved those new contract terms, PG&E asked for a rehearing, citing safety concerns.

The decision gave PG&E two weeks to sign the deal, which are long gone. Crown Castle wants the commission to forget about any rehearings and “take all enforcement measures possible, including penalties and other measures” to force PG&E to get on with it. Which is what, it seems, PG&E will have to do. Wednesday’s letter from CPUC executive director Alice Stebbins said there will be no delay because “merely making a general statement of irreparable harm and referencing the filing of an application for rehearing are insufficient grounds for me to grant the requested extension”.

All this is happening while the CPUC slowly considers whether pole attachment and route management rules need to be changed – it began an inquiry more than two years ago – and while federal are moving more quickly to resolve PG&E’s bankruptcy filing and potential violations of criminal probation terms. It could get more complicated.