BA – Bill Analysis: An examination of a proposed law's possible effects.

BAAQMD – Bay Area Air Quality Management District: The public agency charged with maintaining air quality standards for the San Francisco Bay region.

Backhaul: Any paying cargo hauled by a carrier on a return trip after a primary load of cargo has been delivered.

BAL – Business Access Line: Telephone line from business customer to central office. Commonly referred to as local loop.

Balancing Account: An account used to match the collection of actual revenues against actual costs after an adjustment for unanticipated changes in expenditures; fuel costs of major plant additions are often put into balancing accounts.

Band: The range of frequencies between two points. Or, one of the five specific geographic areas as defined by the carrier.

Bandwidth: The amount of data transmitted in a given amount of time; usually measured in bits per second, kilobits per second and megabits per second.

BART – Bay Area Rapid Transit: The San Francisco Bay Area's transit system. On the Internet at

Base Bill: A charge calculated through multiplication of the rate from the appropriate electric rate schedule by the level of consumption.

Base Flow: Water that flows on the surface.

Base Station: A land station in the land mobile service. For example, in cellular and personal communications uses, each cell has its own base station; each base station is interconnected with other base stations and with the public switched network.

Baseline: The allowance of a certain amount of the first units of gas or electricity at a reduced price to all residential customers to encourage conservation of energy.

Baseload: The minimum amount of electric power delivered or required over a given period of time at a steady rate.

Baseload Plant: A plant, usually housing high-efficiency steam-electric units, that is normally operated to take all or part of the minimum load of a system, and which consequently produces electricity at an essentially constant rate and runs continuously. These units are operated to maximize system mechanical and thermal efficiency and minimize system operating costs.

Basin: An enclosed, sloping area to hold water.

Baud: measure of the speed at which data is transmitted.

Baudot: A seven bit code, only five of which are information bits.

BB – Broadband: Integrated access to voice, high-speed data services, video-demand services and interactive delivery services such as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable Internet.

BCAP – Biannual Cost Allocation Proceeding: PUC proceeding for major gas utilities in which gas balancing accounts are cleared, gas throughput is estimated and other issues are resolved re: specific utility costs and rate design.

Bcf – Billion Cubic Feet (of natural gas): One billion units of volume of natural gas at a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and under an absolute pressure of 14.73 pounds per square inch.

BCP – Budget Change Proposal: A request by a state agency for more resources (i.e., people, equipment, consultants, etc.) with detailed rationale as to why it is necessary. The proposal is forwarded to the Department of Finance for final approval or denial.

Below-the-line: Expenses of a utility that cannot be recovered through rates.

Benchmark rate of return: The percentage rate of return that the PUC has set as the maximum earnings that carriers may retain without returning a portion of earnings to customers. Between the benchmark return and the earnings cap, 50% of earnings are to be returned to customers; above the earnings cap, all earnings are to be returned to customers.

BH – Busy Hour: The time of day when phone lines are most in demand.

Bird: Refers to a communication satellite.

Bit: A single unit of data.

Blocked Calls: Attempted calls that are not connected because (1) all lines to the carrier's offices are in use; or (2) all connecting paths through the carrier's line are in use.

BMP – Best Management Practices: A policy, program, practice, rule, regulation or ordinance of the use of devices, equipment or facilities which is an established and generally accepted practice that results in more efficient use or conservation of water, or a practice that has been proven to indicate that significant conservation benefits can be achieve.

BOC – Bell Operating Company: Any one of 22 original companies and successors created when AT&T was split in 1983 and given right to provide local telephone service in a geographic area.

BOD - Biochemical Oxygen Demand: The aggregate of organisms living on or at the bottom of a body of water. Or, Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD): The amount of molecular oxygen taken up by microbial decomposition of organic matter, usually reported as the amount of oxygen consumed in milligrams per liter of water.

BP – Breakeven Point: Level of usage at which the total cost of a service with a high fixed up-front monthly fee but low-minute costs becomes equal to the total cost of another service with low (or zero) monthly fee but relatively high per-minute cost. At usage levels higher than breakeven, the service with the high monthly fee is cheaper.

BPP – Balanced Payment Plan: A mechanism that allows a utility customer to pay the same bill amount every month by averaging the customer's energy costs over the year.

BPS – Bits per Second: A measure of bit rate or machine speed.

Break: A means of interrupting transmission; a momentary interruption of a circuit.

Brief: A document citing all facts and points of law relied upon by a party to argue its position in a PUC formal proceeding.

Brokering: A system of bidding for capacity on a natural gas pipeline by which companies with the highest bid can obtain firm or assured access to natural gas supplies.

Browser: A software program used to query, search and view information on computer sites connected to the Internet.

BRPU – Biennial Resource Plan Update: A proceeding in which the PUC estimates future electricity demand and supply and oversees utilities' plans to meet demand, either through new generation, increased conservation, or purchases from other utilities or independent power producers.

BT – Busy Tone: A single tone that is interrupted at 60 ipm (impulses per minute) to indicate that the line to the party being called is already in use.

Btu – British Thermal Unit: A unit of energy, the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level.

Bulk Freight: Freight not in packages, but in containers.

Bulk Rate: A reduced-price category for cellular phone subscriptions which large nonprofit or professional organizations can use for the purchase of a block of phone numbers for use by members and staff.

Bus: A heavy conductor, or group of conductors, to which several units of the same type of equipment may be connected.

Byte: A set of "bits" that represent a single character. Usually there are eight bits in a byte.