Since 1967, utilities underground conversions in the State of California have been performed under California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) Rule 20 which has three parts: A, B, and C.
Under Part A, undergrounding in the City of Belmont is paid for and performed by the local electric utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E). Through a program called “Rule 20A,” PG&E is required to annually set aside funds for financing the undergrounding of overhead distribution facilities located on public streets and roads. Each year the City of Belmont is notified by PG&E regarding the allocation of work credits for conversion of overhead electric distribution lines and facilities to underground, known as Rule 20A allocations. Telephone and cable utilities pay through their own undergrounding budget. The purpose of undergrounding the utilities is to improve aesthetics and remove exposure of the utilities to the uncertainty of weather or vehicle collisions.
Parts B and C provide for undergrounding funded through entities other than PG&E ratepayers, such as governmental agencies or private entities through maintenance assessment districts.
Pursuant to certain criteria, CPUC rules allow participating cities to establish legislation authorizing the creation of underground utility districts within which existing overhead electric distribution, telecommunication distribution, and service facilities will be converted to underground. Also, the City of Belmont has adopted an ordinance, codified as Chapter 15.5 - OVERHEAD UTILITY FACILITIES in the Belmont City Code, authorizing the City Council to designate areas within which all existing overhead poles, overhead wires, and overhead equipment associated with the distribution of electric power, telecommunication services, and cable television should be removed and replaced with underground wires and facilities.