Welcome to the March 2013 edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter, where you’ll find news on our upcoming San Diego Voting Meeting, improving public access to CPUC documents, and more.


CPUC Takes Voting Meeting to San Diego

The CPUC is hitting the road to bring its March Voting Meeting to San Diego. The meeting will take place on March 21, 2013, at 9 a.m. at the Conference Center Hearing Room, San Diego County Operations Center, 5520 Overland Ave., San Diego.

Remote access will also be available via a listen-only phone line, a video webcast, and an audio webcast. The details will be posted to the CPUC’s homepage under Special Interest the morning of the meeting.

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CPUC Increases Transparency with Improvements to Public Access to Documents

The CPUC has improved and streamlined the process for the public to access certain safety related documents received or generated by the CPUC.

The CPUC’s regulations for public access to CPUC records, as outlined in General Order 66-C, were outdated and cumbersome, and often delayed rather than facilitated access to records requested under the California Public Records Act. The CPUC issued a decision in February that provides the public with more immediate access to records of safety inspections, audits, and investigations, and sets the stage for opening a formal proceeding to further revise General Order 66-C to increase the CPUC’s ability to provide documents to the public.

Under the February decision, the CPUC can disclose the following categories of safety related records, after any appropriate redactions, without requiring a vote of the CPUC or an Administrative Law Judge ruling as was needed previously: 1) CPUC-generated reports, summaries, and correspondence regarding completed CPUC safety related inspections, audits, and investigations; and 2) annual reports that gas operators file with the United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. These documents will be posted to the CPUC’s website.

Workshops will be conducted in the coming months to address remaining issues regarding disclosure of safety related records, including 1) the nature and treatment of other types of safety related records that utilities and other regulated entities provide to the CPUC, and 2) other issues regarding disclosure of CPUC-generated safety records.

The CPUC intends to open a Rulemaking in the near future to address improving the CPUC’s procedures regarding the public’s access to records that are not exempt under the California Public Records Act or other state or federal law, and the CPUC’s ability to process records requests and requests for confidential treatment in an efficient, well-reasoned, and consistent manner.

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CPUC Broadens and Modifies Solar Thermal Incentive Program

The CPUC has expanded and modified the California Solar Initiative (CSI)-Thermal Program to provide incentives to process heat applications, solar cooling technologies, space heating technologies, and systems that combine multiple applications. The CPUC also modified the way rebates are paid to certain systems under the program by creating a performance-based incentive system that will pay rebates based on actual metered energy delivered to the facility.

According to the CPUC’s February decision:

  • Performance-based incentives will replace the current 70/30 incentive. Rebates will be paid based on metered energy delivered to the end use from the solar thermal system, with payments made quarterly over a two-year time period. Process heat, solar cooling, combination systems, and very large systems will be required to take the performance-based incentive.
  • Incentives will be provided to process heat applications via a performance-based incentive system that pays the incentive based on metered energy delivered to the facility.
  • Incentives will be provided for solar-assisted absorption chillers as a limited pilot program to test this technology’s performance, durability, and economics. Incentives will be limited to no more than $10 million across the service territories of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company, and will be paid on a performance-based incentive basis.
  • The CSI-Thermal Program will offer an incentive to the space heating portion of an OG-300 rated combination system, in addition to the water heating incentive, once these systems are certified by a qualified standards body.

The CPUC established the CSI in 2006 to provide nearly $2 billion in incentives and other support for solar photovoltaic systems with the goal of installing 3,000 megawatts in the service territories of California’s three large investor-owned electric utilities. The CPUC subsequently modified the CSI to be consistent with Senate Bill 1 (Murray, 2006).

In January 2010, the CPUC created the CSI-Thermal Program, which combines $250 million authorized for natural gas displacing solar water heating with $100.8 million allowed for electric displacing solar water heating systems. The incentive budget for the natural gas-displacing portion of the program is available until all the funds have been awarded or until December 31, 2017. The incentive budget for the electric-displacing portion of the program is available until the CSI general market program budget has been exhausted or January 1, 2017, whichever occurs first.

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CPUC Takes Action to Ensure Long-Term Energy Supplies for Los Angeles

The CPUC has authorized Southern California Edison (SCE) to procure between 1,400 and 1,800 megawatts (MW) of electrical capacity in the Los Angeles basin.

The CPUC issued a decision in February requiring that resources be located in a specific transmission-constrained area in Los Angeles in order to ensure adequate available electrical capacity to meet peak demand, and ensure the safety and reliability of the local electrical grid.

For the defined portion of the Los Angeles basin, at least 1,000 MW, but no more than 1,200 MW of this capacity must be procured from conventional gas-fired resources. At least 50 MW must be procured from energy storage resources. At least 150 MW must be procured through preferred resources (energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed generation), consistent with the Loading Order in the state’s Energy Action Plan, or energy storage resources.

In the CPUC’s next long-term procurement proceeding, expected to commence in 2014, the CPUC will evaluate whether there are additional localized electricity needs in California.

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Visit our Consumer Information Center for more assistance. Consumers with utility complaints can call our Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570.

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© 2013, California Public Utilities Commission. All rights reserved.
March 2013


Produced by the CPUC's News and Public Information Office and Business and Community Outreach, 415-703-1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.

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