Pacific Gas & Electric?s proposed transmission upgrade of its lines running from San Mateo to San Francisco, which would boost the amount of power flowing into the constrained San Francisco region by 135 MW, was unanimously approved by the California Public Utilities Commission October 2. The $20 million project, which stretches 12 miles, is expected to be operational by next June. The transmission project is considered an environmental plus because it will help advance the closure date of PG&E?s old, polluting Hunters Point power plant. The new 115 Kv line will also reduce the system?s current electro-magnetic field effects because of the way it will be reconfigured, said PG&E spokesperson Paul Moreno. The project did raise the broader question of the CPUC?s policy?or lack of one?on the controversy over the health impacts of EMF exposure. Commissioner Loretta Lynch pointed out that the CPUC spent $7 million in 1993 for a state Department of Health study on EMF impacts. The health department?s findings, which are in dispute, were released months ago but state regulators have yet to respond or review the report. ?We owe it to the citizens of California, who funded this study? to consider the report in a new rulemaking and see ?how it impacts our EMF policy,? Lynch said. Although she supported PG&E?s line upgrade project, Lynch noted it had been in the pipeline for a few years but PG&E did not submit an application to the CPUC until four months ago. It then requested that the commission speed up its environmental impact review to accelerate the process. Another policy question raised in this week?s meeting dealt with how the CPUC handles Public Records Acts requests. There are currently about half a dozen requests for access to information the CPUC deems confidential. The <i>Wall Street Journal<\/i> is seeking to get information on the Southern California?s Mountainview project, the cost of which is not public. The project involves Edison?s option to purchase a 1,054 MW power plant, buying the output from its affiliate for 30 years and getting a healthy guaranteed rate of return. Independent power producers are outraged by the move, in no small part because it is not being subjected to competitive bidding. Thus, they argue, there are no assurances that it will be a good deal for Edison ratepayers, as the utility contends. After the <i>Journal<\/i> submitted its Public Records Act request, it was told it would be considered only if it became a party to the proceeding before a CPUC judge. Lynch objected to requiring reporters to seek intervenor status, thus forcing them ?to duke it out? with other parties in order to get access to confidential information. She called the response ?unduly burdensome? and insisted the commissioners, not its judges or legal staff, decide the access issue. CPUC Mike Pevvey called Lynch?s request for a commission decision on the matter ?premature.? The price information being sought, he noted, was protected by an evidentiary privilege in an ongoing proceeding, which should not be circumvented. Only parties to the hearings should be allowed access to the secret material, otherwise the commission may be in violation of its confidentiality rules, he added.