The California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) released a unanimous decision amending the rules governing design, construction, and maintenance of outdoor overhead power and communication lines. The 16 amendments are intended to improve safety, enhance reliability, increase efficiency, and correct errors in General Order (GO) 95, which governs overhead line construction and safety.

The amendments are mostly technical and include such items as raising the height of the lowest pole step from 7 ½ feet to 8 feet to deter unauthorized climbing of poles; providing workers with additional protection from electric shocks when using all-metal operating mechanisms for line switches and disconnects; providing guidance regarding pole “working space” in the vicinity of communication lines; allowing two or more pieces of enclosed equipment such as transformers to be installed adjacently on a non-climbable pole eliminating the need for double-pole platforms; and expanding the existing urban requirement for weather-resistant covering for power lines in a vertical rack configuration operating at 0 – 750 volts to rural districts.

There was little dispute as all of the parties to the proceeding, which included cable television operators, wireless carriers, investor- and municipally-owned utilities, and the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division, supported the amendments to GO 95.