- California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Commissioner Mark Ferron announced last week his abrupt retirement due to a battle with prostate cancer.
- Before leaving, Ferron gave his frank assessment of the utility industry in a final report read aloud at a CPUC meeting. "We are fortunate to have utilities in California that are orders of magnitude more enlightened than their brethren in the coal-loving states, although I suspect that they would still dearly like to strangle rooftop solar if they could," he said. "Their strategy is often: 'we will give the Commission only what they explicitly order us to give them.' This is cat and mouse, not partnership, so we have to be one smart and aggressive cat."
- "Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, with the passage of AB 327, the thorny issue of Net Energy Metering and rate design has been given over to the CPUC," Ferron said. "You – my fellow Commissioners – all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation."
California is an interesting case. The Golden State's leadership on energy policy is watched closely by regulators, policymakers and utilities. But there are still obstacles to a clean and sustainable energy future; California is just among the first to confront them. Some utilities may view California as a state rife with regulatory activism, but such proactive, forward-looking policymaking is becoming more and more widely adopted. Expect regulators across the U.S. to eventually follow them, if they aren't doing so already. It's a new reality to which utilities are adapting.