California EMF Regulatory Activity

California Public Utilities Commission

EMF Decisions

Regulatory Compliance in California

  • January 1991

    The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), issued an Order Instituting Investigation to develop policies and procedures for addressing potential health effects of magnetic fields from utility facilities.

    The CPUC formed the California Consensus Group (CCG), a committee of seventeen stakeholders representing diverse interests and perspectives, to provide guidance on interim EMF measures the CPUC might adopted while waiting for resolution of scientific uncertainties.

  • March 1992

    The CCG issued its report, recommending that the CPUC authorize utilities to implement magnetic field reduction methods if those methods could be implemented at no-cost or low-cost.

  • November 1993

    The CPUC issued Decision D.93-11-013 adopting interim policy regarding EMF.

    • Decision D.93-11-013 * (doc)
    • The CPUC found that the scientific community had not concluded that an EMF health hazard actually exists.
    • Further, the CPUC concluded that "it is not appropriate to adopt any specific numerical standard in association with EMFs until we have a firm scientific basis for adopting any particular value."
    • The CPUC recognized that "public concern and scientific uncertainty remain regarding the potential health effects of EMF exposure."
    • California's electric utilities were authorized to implement no-cost and low-cost field management methods to reduce EMF levels from new and upgraded electrical facilities if a noticeable reduction could be achieved.

    The CPUC's Commission Advisory and Compliance Division (CACD) set and chaired informational EMF Design Guideline workshops to incorporate concepts and criteria addressed in the Order and share information on field reduction options.

    SDG&E developed its EMF Design Guidelines for Transmission, Distribution, and Substation Facilities, describing engineering methods for reducing exposure to magnetic fields created by its electrical facilities.

    The CPUC acknowledged in D.93-11-013 that the feasibility and cost of implementing specific magnetic field reduction methods vary between utility systems and from project to project.  

    Therefore, the CPUC provided that the manner in which individual utilities apply their design guidelines must be determined within the constraints of each new construction project.  A project-specific Magnetic Field Management Plan discusses the field reduction methods considered and implemented for each new transmission project.

    In addition, the CPUC's 1993 decision established an EMF research and information program.  This program, completed in 2002, was managed by the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) and funded by the California utility ratepayers.  

    The purpose of the program was to perform research and policy analysis, and provide education and technical assistance to benefit Californians.  Input to the CDHS was provided by a Stakeholders Advisory Consultant group (SAC), comprising members of the public and consumer groups, health and scientific experts, and labor and utility representatives.

  • October 2002

    The CDHS completed its EMF Risk Evaluation Report and submitted it to the CPUC. For more information about the program.

    • Call the CDHS at 1-510-622-4500
  • January 2006

    The CPUC updated its EMF Policy in Decision 06-01-042 and re-affirmed the following.

    • Decision 06-01-042 * (pdf)
    • Health hazards from exposures to EMF have not been established.
    • State and federal public health regulatory agencies have determined that setting numeric exposure limits is not appropriate.
    • Existing no-cost and low-cost precautionary-based EMF policy should be continued.

    The decision also include the following directions.

    • Adopted "rules and policies to improve utility design guidelines for reducing EMF" and provided for a utility workshop "to implement these policies and standardize design guidelines."
    • Ordered electric utilities to file revised design guidelines within six months of the effective date of the decision.
    • Directed the CPUC's Energy Division "to monitor and report on new EMF related scientific data as it becomes available.”
  • July 2006

    After a series of workshops held in the spring of 2002, SDG&E and other California electric utilities agreed on a standardized EMF Design Guidelines document. SDG&E filed its revised EMF Design Guidelines for Electrical Facilities with the CPUC in July 2006.

    California Public Utilities Commission

    EMF Decisions.