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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PUC Approves $12 Million Power Pole Case Settlement

• Telecom Companies Agree to Pay

BY BILL KOENEKER   

The state Public Utilities Commission on Sept. 13 approved a $12 million settlement agreement with three telecommunications companies over the ignition of the 2007 Malibu Canyon fire.
The nearly 4000-acre wildfire rapidly blazed through Malibu Canyon and burned into the Malibu Civic Center area, destroying 10 homes, including the “Malibu Castle,” Malibu Presbyterian Church, several classrooms at Webster Elementary School and Our Lady of Malibu School and several businesses.
The investigation that followed pointed to three utility poles on Malibu Canyon Road that had fallen to the ground.
The settlement between the PUC's Consumer Protection and Safety Division and AT&T Mobility LLC, Sprint Telephony PCS l.P.and Verizon Wireless requires the companies to each pay $4 million.
Of that total amount, $6.9 million will go to the state's general fund and $5.1 million to an improved infrastructure and inspection fund that will be established as part of the settlement agreement.
Funding will be used for work to strengthen utility poles in Malibu Canyon and to conduct a survey of joint-use poles in Southern California Edison's service area to see if those poles meet the current standards. The remaining money will go to the state's general fund.
The settlement does not include SCE or NextG Networks of California, Inc., although the PUC's case remains open in order to resolve allegations that SCE and NextG violated various PUC rules regarding their involvement.
The PUC opened the case in 2009.

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