Tariff Rule 20 is the method established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for the implementation of the overhead utility underground conversion programs.
Rule 20A projects are constructed in areas of a community that are used most often by the general public. Rule 20A projects are nominated by the city or county and are paid for by the electric utility ratepayers. Under Rule 20A, the CPUC requires the utility to allocate a certain amount of work credits each year to the cities and unincorporated counties for conversion projects. Because ratepayers contribute the bulk of the costs of Rule 20A programs through utility rates, the projects must be in the public interest by meeting one or more of the following public interest criteria:
• Eliminate an unusually heavy concentration of overhead lines;
• Involve a street or road with a high volume of public traffic;
• Benefit a civic or public recreation area or area of unusual scenic interest;
• Be listed as an arterial street or major collector as defined in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) Guidelines.
The determination of “general public interest” under these criteria is made by the local government, after holding public hearings, in consultation with the utility.
In addition, the community must also have accumulated enough Rule 20A work credit allocations to fund a project. Such allocations are given out annually by the utility and communities can accumulate them over several years until they have sufficient funding to complete a project. Communities may borrow forward five years to obtain additional credits. Once enough work credits are available, the community forms a utility underground district by municipal resolution to initiate a project.