California Strengthens Safety Standards for Overhead Facilities
In May 2020, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) finalized significant changes to its General Order 95 – Rules for Overhead Line Construction (GO 95). The updated rules were adopted as part of a lengthy rulemaking proceeding—Rulemaking 17-10-010, Rulemaking to Consider Amendments to General Order 95—that commenced in 2017 with a petition filed by the CPUC's Safety & Enforcement Division (SED). The GO 95 rule changes became effective in May 2020.
During extensive workshops, the parties to the proceeding—which included SED, cable companies, wireless carriers, telephone companies, investor-owned electric utilities, municipal electric utilities, and labor unions—achieved a remarkable unanimous consensus on all of the proposed GO 95 rule changes. The CPUC approved those rule changes in Decision 20-01-010.
The major amendments to GO 95 include the following:
- Pole Loading Calculations: Rule 44.2 (titled "Additional Construction"), which governs pole loading calculations, was revamped. The revised rule provides that "any entity planning the addition of facilities shall ensure that the addition of the facilities" will not overload the pole.
As such, the new rule imposes an affirmative obligation on any entity planning a new attachment to ensure that the pole will not be overloaded, regardless of the amount of increase in load. (The old version of the rule did not require a pole loading calculation if the load was increased by five percent or less.) The revised rule also requires that pole loading calculations performed on wood poles that are more than 15 years old must incorporate results of intrusive inspections of the pole.
- Pole Overturning Calculations: Rule 49.1-C, which governs pole overturning calculations, was revised to add a reference to Rules 43 and 44 to require that the provision for deeper setting depth or other special methods must ensure that the pole will not overturn at any load less than the load that causes it to break.
- Non-Interference With Fall Protection Equipment: New Rules 51.8 and 81.7 (both titled "Interference with Fall-Protection Equipment") were added to GO 95 to require that electric and communications lines do not interfere with the effective use of fall protection equipment used by line workers, with several enumerated exceptions.
- Climbing Space Obstructions: Rules 54.7-A-3 and 54.10-F-3, which govern climbing space, were revised to clarify certain allowable climbing space obstructions.
We have prepared a document with the complete list of new, deleted, or revised GO 95 rules adopted by Decision 20-01-010 and the CPUC's stated rationale for the amendments.
Please contact us if you have questions or need clarification about the recent amendments to GO 95.
This article was originally featured as a broadband law advisory on DWT.com on August 12, 2020. Our editors have chosen to feature this article here for its coinciding subject matter.