Commissioner Simon and Administrative Law Judge Kenney presided over a prehearing conference in the Commission's fire safety proceeding (R.08-11-005) today.  The usual players were in attendance-- the electric utilities, the communication utilities, consumer groups, environmental groups, and a few new players from the fire safety community (CalFIRE and LA Fire).

Today's topic was to determine the scope of Phase 3.  Items that will certainly be included in Phase 3:

1) the detail and amount of reporting by the electric utilities on fires or other events that occur on their power lines;

2) revising the construction and strength requirements for power-line and aerial communication facilities.

The big question today was on what sort of maps should be used/created to assess fire risk and to determine inspection cycles.  Another important question that will be determined by the Commissioner's scoping memorandum that will be issued soon is what uses the Commission envisions coming from the map.

Commissioner Simon hinted at the hearing that he saw a broader vision for the use of the maps beyond just identifying fire risk.  He appears to be leaning towards developing maps that identify the amount of available biomass in certain areas that could then be used to site potential biomass facilities around the state-- an interesting idea, but not exactly what the majority of the parties at the hearing envisioned coming out of this proceeding or being within the scope of Phase 3.

Should be an interesting proceeding that may have ramifications not only in California, but in other states and countries where fire safety is of paramount importance.