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On June 22, 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) and California Energy Commission (“CEC”) convened an En Banc hearing on the recently released, Draft Green Book which details the evolving framework of California Customer Choice. The agencies held the En Banc in light of the explosive growth of Community Choice Aggregators (“CCAs”) in California and growing options for retail Direct Access, and to discuss possible changes to be considered with respect to California’s regulatory framework. The panel discussions included representatives from CCAs, Investor Owned Utilities (“IOUs”), elected officials, Electricity Service Providers (“ESPs”), trade organizations and academia. Significant parts of the discussion involved the question of, in loosening state regulatory control, how California could avoid unintended outcomes and breakdowns in services as had occurred in the 2000-2001 Energy Crisis.

Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose and Supervisor Kathrin Sears of Marin County, and Chair of Marin Clean Energy, participated in panels highlighting the success and potential of CCAs in California. They both emphasized that the local customers desired their electricity to be produced from renewable resources and at lower rates than incumbent utilities, which CCAs are able to offer. They underscored that CCAs are run by local, elected officials who are held accountable to their constituents. A key aspect which has made CCAs successful is their flexibility to innovate and to pursue renewable resources at affordable rates.

The En Banc meeting was bookended by the remarks of an Ad Hoc Committee comprised of former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair, Pat Wood, and Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Attorney, Ralph Cavanagh. They provided observations on the tensions between the advantages of the flexibilities offered by the new energy organizations and the benefits of centrally decided procurement decisions.

The CPUC stated that they hope to have updated views, in the form of a Final Green Book, available to the public in October. In the meantime, the CPUC requested stakeholders to submit comments in both CEC Docket No. 18-IEPR-01 and to the CPUC Consumer Choice mailbox (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by July 11, 2018.

For further information on CCAs, please contact Michael Postar, Sean M. Neal, Peter Scanlon, Bhaveeta K. Mody, or Andrew B. Art.