An Energy Newsletter for Local Governments
The Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition (LGSEC), as part of its membership services, provides this recap of activities at State agencies that the LGSEC governing board has chosen to follow. Those topic areas currently include climate change, energy efficiency programs (both public good charge and new programs authorized by the federal Energy Act of 2007), utility rates, and community choice aggregation. The LGSEC board believes that these are issues of interest to members and may warrant future participation in proceedings or other activities. As LGSEC membership grows, or as priorities change, more topic areas may be added to this list.
Local governments could be subject to substantial additional regulation under proposals state regulators are developing for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy sources. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is developing a Local Government Protocol that is supposed to include voluntary measures to reduce GHG emissions, but CARB staff will not say whether the measures might later become mandatory. CARB will also consider land use regulations to reduce GHG emissions, which will probably focus on reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled in new developments.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has recommended that all new homes have “net-zero-energy” usage by 2020. The California Energy Commission (CEC) CEC staff agreed with this approach in the CEC’s year-end Integrated Energy Policy Report and will work on updating Title 24, the energy efficiency portion of the state’s building code regulations, to require “net-zero-energy performance” by 2020.
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) is currently developing CEQA guidelines for the mitigation of GHG emissions. The Attorney General’s office has actively challenged the CEQA review of several large projects and is now holding workshops throughout the state to persuade local governments to consider GHG effects in CEQA review.
End user groups and ratepayer advocates have requested a comprehensive review of all current CPUC programs related to climate change mitigation; the County of Los Angeles has suggested a new proceeding. LGSEC believes its members should support some review process regarding the need and administration of these GHG programs.
Critical Peak Pricing (CPP) – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has directed the utilities to develop mandatory customer programs that would go into effect during periods of high electricity demand. Local governments will be required to participate in these programs and therefore should participate in their design. SCE has proposed a new CPP in its new General Rate Case.
SCE General Rate Case – SCE has submitted a request to the CPUC to increase rates by an average of 16.2% in 2010, with further increases in future years. To make matters worse, SCE has proposed a methodology that would increase rates by more than the average for many of the schedules most commonly used by local governments who are SCE customers, such as street lighting and GS-2.
PG&E General Rate Case – PG&E has requested an increase of 11% over 2006 rates, with additional increases in later years.
Energy Efficiency Programs – Many local governments across the state participate in energy efficiency partnerships with the investor-owned utilities. There are opportunities to refine these programs, and take better advantage of local government strengths in reaching customers and saving energy.
Additionally, the federal Energy Act of 2007 establishes a block grant program for local governments, the rules for which are being developed in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. The block grants are not funded for this legislative session so far. Every local government should write a letter to their federal legislator urging funding of the block grant program. Attached is a letter sent by the County.
The CPUC has decided to move forward in its attempt to reopen direct access, and will now begin exploring how to transfer contracts from the Department of Water Resources to the utilities or other entities, and then to develop rules to allow customers to once again purchase electricity from retail providers. Local governments should support having the option for direct access.
Several local governments are investigating whether to take advantage of community choice aggregation, which allows a local government to purchase electricity on behalf of its constituents, both residential and commercial. Local governments have been very involved in positively influencing the CPUC’s development of the rules that govern community choice aggregation.