California PUC, Energy Commission to scrutinize future of retail choice

Dive Brief:

  • The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission will hold a joint en banc hearing next month to discusses the "changing state of retail electric choice" in the state.
  • The hearing is not limited to retail choice of a customer's electric supplier, what California calls "direct access." The two commissions will also look at community aggregation, rooftop and universal solar.
  • By the end of this year, up to 40% of California’s investor-owned electric utility customers will be signed up for some kind of alternative supply plan, and that number could double by 2025, the commissions say.

Dive Insight:

By the middle of the next decade, 80% of California IOU customers could have some sort of non-traditional electricity service, from rooftop solar to community choice aggregation or an alternative retail supplier. 

Those trends are prompting the CPUC and CEC want to step back and take a holistic look at where the system is heading.

While past efforts to restructure markets were driven by distinct policy initiatives, the new evolution is occurring naturally as consumers demand more control and choice over their electricity.

"Unlike electricity restructuring efforts of the past, when policymakers made a set of conscious decisions to move to open market competition, this transition is being driven by a range of economic and technological trends," the commissions noted in a statement.

In advance of the May 19 hearing, the CPUC will issue a white paper examining how the market evolved to this point, key lessons learned from past efforts to restructure retail electricity markets, and a proposed set of principles to consider as the markets continue to change.

The agenda for the hearing also includes a panel where Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison, can "discuss current challenges and lay out their vision for the evolution of retail electricity choice and their role in its provision."

The commissions noted that although a quorum from both bodies will be present, no official actions will be taken. The meeting will be limited to 250 people, and an RSVP page is available here.

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Filed Under: Transmission & Distribution Regulation & Policy
Top image credit: Flickr; John Loo