California regulators on Monday began taking public input on guidelines for utility public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) that include shortening the outages and coordinating more closely with local communities.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) wants the changes in place for this year’s fire season, with a vote scheduled for May 28. Spokesperson Terrie Prosper said the revised guidelines are designed to address issues identified with the shutoffs and would take effect when they are approved.

Last year, the CPUC began an investigation into shutoffs, particularly those by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., after a regulatory judge found “serious deficiencies.”

The revised guidelines are part of a five-month effort outlined in February to finalize wildfire mitigation plans for the state’s major utilities. The guidelines are aimed at reducing the planned outages, and they would require utilities to provide needed services such as water, cell phone services and restrooms. Service must be restored within 24 hours whenever possible.

In working and communicating more closely with local communities, the guidelines require early and consistent notification of the outage plans and closer collaboration between power utilities and communications carriers.

PG&E spokesperson Ari Vanrenen said the utility agrees in general with the recommendations.

“We’ve taken the feedback to improve our PSPS program seriously — from our regulator, the governor’s office, state agencies, our customers and our communities; we’ve implemented many of their requests and suggestions,” Vanrenen told NGI.