Tag Archives: Cpuc

Inside the Minds of Regulators: How Different States Are Dealing With Distributed Energy

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

With distributed generation steadily rising and creeping into new states, electricity regulators in each region of the U.S. are dealing with change very differently. Regulatory officials from California, Texas, Minnesota and Arizona discussed how they’re addressing some of the most pressing issues in their service territories this week at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid in Washington, D.C.

California: California is the national leader in the deployment of solar PV, plug-in electric vehicles, grid-scale energy storage and home automation technologies. Today, about 20 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable energy, putting California on track to meet its 33 percent renewable energy target by 2020.

But while the Golden State continues to come up with new ways to promote and integrate advanced energy technologies, the focus will shift from renewables in the coming years, said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

“We’re moving away from a technology-based discussion to [a discussion of] grid values — what does the grid need, what do customers need?” he said. “And we will probably move away from a focus on renewables per se as a series of technologies, to a series of metrics on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Picker added that this shift away from individual technologies toward holistic grid solutions will reinforce a convergence between traditional electric utilities, the transportation industry, the natural gas industry and all types of distributed energy resources (DERs).

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California’s Major Residential Rate Reform: The Solar-Friendly Alternative

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission proposed a new regime for how most of the state’s residential customers are charged for their electricity, including some major changes that could have a negative effect on the economics of rooftop solar power and household energy efficiency.

On Friday, CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio offered his own Alternate Proposed Decision (PDF) aimed at avoiding some of these effects, while still meeting the terms of the rate reforms called for by 2013 state law AB 327. In simple terms, Florio’s rate proposal does two things differently, both aligned with what most solar, efficiency and environmental groups have been asking for.

  • The first difference has to do with changes to California’s four-tier monthly rate structures, which can vary from about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour for the lowest tier to as high as 42 cents per kilowatt-hour for the highest tier. Last month’s proposal would allow the state’s big three utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, to move to a two-tier system with only a 20 percent difference between the top and bottom tiers. But Florio’s proposal would keep three tiers instead, and leave a wider 33 percent differential between the top and bottom rates.
  • The second big difference with Florio’s proposal has to do with minimum monthly charges on customers bills. Last month’s proposal would allow a minimum bill of up to $10 per month through 2019, and then allow a fixed charge to be imposed instead. Florio’s alternate proposal keeps the minimum bill, but rejects the idea that a fixed charge could ever take its place — a subtle yet important difference that can shore up the value of solar and efficiency for customers with smaller monthly bills.
  • Florio’s alternate proposal does keep one important idea from its predecessor proposal in place, however — the switch to time-of-use (TOU) rates. Both plans would require the state’s big three utilities to start TOU pilots by next year, and to file proposals by the end of 2017 to move to a default TOU rate structure by 2019.

This chart outlines the key differences between last month’s proposal and Florio’s alternate proposal.

Both proposals are set to be considered by commissioners at the CPUC’s June 25 meeting.

Read full article from Greentech Media