Press Release: Diverse Stakeholders Call for Urgent Fix to Broken Regulation Forcing Some Electricity Customers to Pay for Clean Energy Purchased for Others

SACRAMENTO – On Wednesday, August 23 the California Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications held an informational hearing on the growth of Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs), which are government entities that buy power for customers in certain jurisdictions.

Current law is supposed to protect electricity customers from having to pay extra to cover the cost of long-term clean energy and other contracts bought for customers who are now purchasing their power from CCAs. Hearing participants agreed the current regulation is not working and urged the California Public Utilities Commission to act quickly to fix the regulation and other challenges:

“I just wanted to give you a sense that the problem is worse than you think.”

          Michael Picker, Chair, California Public Utilities Commission

 

“The current regulatory mechanism in place to protect customers from cost-shifts as CCAs form is not working. Customers, including many seniors on fixed incomes, are paying more than their fair share for long-term clean energy contracts purchased on behalf of all customers.”

          Mike Montgomery, Congress of California Seniors

 

“How do we make sure that the exercise of a choice by one customer doesn’t cause another customer to have a higher bill? …the truth is that failing to get the indifference cost right results in one customer paying for another customer’s choice. We’ve got to get the formula right.”

          Matt Freedman, Staff Attorney, The Utility Reform Network (TURN)

 

“It’s really easy to see the train wreck that will come…We can do something to prevent this train wreck. We should press the pause button.”

 

“The PCIA is supposed to leave customers who are not in a CCA indifferent to the fact of a CCA forming but it doesn’t.”

          Marc Joseph, legal counsel for the California Coalition of Utility Employees

 

“Energy choice can be a good thing, but not if it benefits some customers at the expense of others. No electricity customer should pay for power purchased for someone else – particularly those already struggling to make ends meet.”

          Eric Harris, Legislative Advocate, NAACP California

 

“I am concerned that we’re creating a system that’s going to be ungovernable and shifting responsibilities into agencies that can’t sustain them…. a domino effect of closures of these CCAs that can lead to a collapse of our system.”

          Senator Ben Hueso, Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communication Committee

 

More and more customers will be served by the growing number of CCAs, so the longer it takes for these regulations to be fixed, the higher the cost will grow for customers that remain with their utility.”

          Pilar Pinel, Founder and CEO of Embracing Latina Leadership Alliances or ELLAS. 

 

“We all tend to believe that we have a lot of time to resolve these questions, but the change is happening today. It is happening quickly.”

          Steve Malnight, Sr. Vice President of Strategy and Policy, PG&E

 

“Minority businesses and minority communities, especially those in more economically vulnerable areas of the state, should not be left behind by lapses in regulations.  We support the state’s transition to renewable energy. It’s up to the legislature and regulators to make sure that we all share equitably in the costs of clean energy and other contracts purchased to clean our air.”

          Berman Obaldia, VP of Corporate & Government Affairs for California Asian Chamber of Commerce

 

“As we heard today, some customers in the state are paying for clean energy and other power that was purchased for others.  That is not sustainable and we hope the members of this committee help ensure action is taken quickly at the CPUC to fix the problem.”

          Jose Perez, Chairman & CEO of Hispanics in Energy

 

“Reasonable electricity bills are of course critical to all businesses, including our members. And paying for someone else’s power isn’t really reasonable.”

          Robert Abelon, Executive Director of Region Business

 

“There is no doubt that the PUC has a very, very important job to do in the next months, but I’m not just going to put this solely on the PUC because I think we share a responsibility…We are very willing to join the PUC in working on this in a way that…all the challenges that were raised here today, that we solve them as soon as possible.”

           Senator Ben Hueso, Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communication Committee

 

Equitable Energy Choice for Californians is a diverse coalition of community, senior, labor and small business organizations that are advocating for policy changes to ensure all customers contribute equitably to long-term clean energy and other resources so that no customer is left paying for power purchased for others. Visit www.EquitableChoice.com for more info.

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