Jeremy Waen and David Howarth / MRW & Associates / Oakland, California
The California regulatory agencies are scrambling to get ahead of a rapidly changing California electricity market as millions of Californians are being offered an expanding slate of alternatives to fully bundled electricity service from the local investor-owned utility or “IOU”.
As many as 1.9 million customers are expected to use some form of customer choice by the end of 2017. More than 85% of the total utility load may depart to alternative suppliers by the middle of the next decade.
While competition in retail electricity supply is not new in California — retail choice was introduced in the late 1990s — that early foray into the competition was hobbled by the California energy crisis in 2000 and by subsequent legislation capping the amount of load allowed to exit through direct access.
The driving factors behind the current exodus are the rapid expansion of community choice aggregators or “CCAs” and customers installing solar panels. (For background on CCAs, see “Another Potential Offtaker: Community Choice Aggregators” in the August 2016 Newswire, “Huge Potential New Demand for Power” in the October 2016 NewsWire, and “Financing Projects With Community Choice Aggregators” in this issue starting on page 1.)
The amount of customer load served by CCAs now exceeds the amount supplied by power marketers. With many more communities either forming new CCAs or joining existing CCAs, the amount of load departing utility service is expected to increase substantially in 2018.
Both the scale and the rate of load departures across the state are causing the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission to recognize that time is fleeting for policies to adapt to these changes. The regulators are particularly concerned about how the changes in industry structure are affecting their ability to ensure that California meets its aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
The CPUC and CEC held a joint “en banc” meeting on these issues on May 19. The CPUC staff issued a white paper ahead of the meeting to tee up the discussion about how California can balance its priorities for greenhouse gas reductions, grid reliability, rate affordability, universal access and economic development in the rapidly evolving electricity market.
The white paper said the CPUC intends to initiate a formal rulemaking proceeding to explore the “future role(s), structure(s), fiscal and other functions of the three large California electric IOUs.”
For the rest of the article: https://goo.gl/NCAAaw
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