This edition of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) eNewsletter includes information on our Managing Energy Bills Workshops and our En Banc on disconnections of service by utilities.

 
 

CPUC to Hold Three Public Workshops on Managing Energy Bills

The CPUC will hold free public workshops in Oakland, Fresno, and Bakersfield on Managing Energy Bills:

  • December 14, 2009, 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
    Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St., Oakland

  • December 16, 2009, 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
    Mosqueda Community Center, 4670 E. Butler, Fresno

  • December 18, 2009, 5:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
    Kern County Superintendent of Schools, 1300 17th St., Bakersfield

The purpose of these workshops is to promote programs, initiatives, and policies that can help reduce energy bills and bring reliable energy at reasonable rates.  In these challenging economic times it is important that consumers are aware of programs that could assist them in managing their energy bills. The workshops will also offer information on the CPUC’s efforts to transform California’s utility distribution system into an intelligent, integrated network. Representatives from the CPUC and Pacific Gas and Electric Company will lead the workshops.  Please contact Marzia Zafar at zaf@cpuc.ca.gov or (415) 703-1997 if you have questions about these workshops.

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CPUC En Banc to Address Utility Disconnections

The CPUC will hold an En Banc in December to discuss the process by which utility companies disconnect consumers for non-payment.

In response to a report from the CPUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), which found that 19 percent more low income households have been disconnected in the past year, the CPUC is calling utilities and consumer groups together to discuss the issue.

The En Banc will be before the CPUC’s five Commissioners, and will include comments from DRA, as well as The Utility Reform Network.  In addition, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric Company will discuss their consumer programs and disconnection processes.

The En Banc will take place in the CPUC’s Auditorium at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco. The date of the En Banc will be determined shortly and will be on our homepage as soon as it's available.

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CPUC Provides Mark-Ups of Revised Proposed Decisions

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase public awareness and participation in its proceedings, the CPUC has started publishing a marked-up version of revised Proposed Decisions so that the modifications that were made are easily identifiable.

Currently when a Proposed Decision is modified, the new version is published “clean” with a revision number at the top of the document. Under the new process, a marked-up version will also be posted to the CPUC’s website so that the changes that have been made are readily apparent. Visit our website for an example.

This new process began on November 20, 2009, with selected revised Proposed Decisions. The CPUC expects all revised Proposed Decisions to follow the new format by January 2010.

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Federal Smart Grid Funding Approved

On November 24th the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that California would receive approximately $186 million in Federal Stimulus funding for eight Smart Grid and Energy Storage demonstration projects.

Four Investor-Owned Utility projects were submitted for funding consideration for this round of awards and three were selected.  Overall, California received 30 percent of the $620 million that DOE awarded for Smart Grid and Storage Demonstrations.

California Smart Grid Demonstration Projects selected:

  • Southern California Edison, Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration ($40 million): Integrated, scalable end-to-end Smart Grid system from transmission to consumer applications.
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Smart Grid Regional Demonstration ($60 million): Demonstrations in partnership with local research institutions.
  • Waukesha Electric Systems, Fault Current Limiting Superconducting Transformer ($11 million): New transformer technology that can reduce losses and improve reliability.

California Energy Storage Demonstrations selected:

  • PG&E Underground Compressed Air Energy Storage ($25 million): 300 megawatt plant in Kern County.
  • Southern California Edison Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage Project ($25 million): 8 megawatt utility-scale lithium ion battery technology.
  • Primus Power, Wind Firming Energy Farm ($14 million): 25 megawatt storage for Modesto Irrigation District.
  • Seco Inc., Solid State Batteries ($6 million): 25 kWh prototype advanced lithium ion battery system.
  • Amber Kinetics, Flywheel Demonstration ($4 million): Demonstrate innovative flywheel technologies.

Other selected projects that will be at least partly conducted in California:

  • Boeing, Project Boeing SGS ($8.6 million): Demonstrate Smart Grid software with military-grade cybersecurity.
  • Premium Power, Advanced Flow Batteries ($7 million): Seven 500 kW batteries for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and National Grid (NY and MA).
  • Ktech Corp, Flow Batteries ($4.8 million): Project sites include Sunnyvale, CA and Snelling, CA.
Also as part of the Stimulus package, in October California received $230 million for other related Smart Grid projects.  However, the majority of the funding from the October announcement went to states requesting funding to install Smart Meters in their respective territories.  Overall, the Stimulus package allocated over $4 billion for Smart Meters and other Smart Grid-related projects.  The goal is to set the course for a modern grid that is critical to achieving the state’s energy goals and apply Smart Grid technologies to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources.

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Expedited Contracting Approved for Smart Meter Testing in San Joaquin Valley

In order to perform independent third-party technical expert testing of PG&E’s Smart Meters in the San Joaquin Valley, the CPUC approved expedited contracting for consultant services.

On Oct. 14, 2009, the CPUC said it would require this testing. In order to perform this task, the CPUC needs to contract with third-party technical experts. Timely retention of technical experts is essential to ensure consumers are protected both in going forward with the deployment and in stopping/remedying any technical problems.

Based on this, the CPUC on Nov. 20, 2009, approved expedited contracting for consultant services to enable the CPUC to enter into a contract without the need to comply with certain provisions of the Government and Public Contract Codes.

The CPUC approved the expedited contracting because it determined that consumer complaints concerning the potential inaccuracy of Smart Meters constitutes an extraordinary circumstance that justifies the use of expedited contracting provided for in Public Utilities Code Section 632.

The CPUC expects to choose an independent evaluator in December.

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CPUC Renewables Portfolio Standard Quarterly Report Issued

The CPUC issued its Quarterly Staff Report on California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), one of the most ambitious in the country, which requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs), electric service providers, and community choice aggregators to procure 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010.

Among the report’s highlights:

  • As of October 2009, the CPUC has approved 129 contracts contributing 10,271 megawatts (MW) toward the RPS goal. The CPUC is currently reviewing an additional 30 contracts for 4,605 MW of capacity.
  • The state’s first new geothermal project resulting from the RPS program is now delivering renewable energy.
  • On an aggregated basis, 13 percent of IOU electric retail sales were served by RPS-eligible resources in 2008.
  • More renewable energy generation came online in 2008 than in the entire 2003-2007 time period. It is forecasted that new installed capacity in 2009 will almost match the amount that came online in 2008.
  • Based on pending and approved contracts, the IOUs are expected to achieve the 20 percent RPS target in the 2013-2014 timeframe.

 The report is available on our website.

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CPUC Protects Consumers From Illegal Moving and Passenger Carrier Companies

In its ongoing commitment to consumer protection, the CPUC took a number of steps in the third-quarter of 2009 to protect consumers from illegally operating passenger carrier companies and moving companies. 

Enforcement efforts included citations and fines totaling $51,250 against 56 limousine, tour bus, and shuttle companies for various violations of the Public Utilities Code and CPUC rules and regulations.

In addition, the CPUC participated in four multi-agency strike force operations on limousine, tour bus, and shuttle companies to ensure that they were properly licensed with the CPUC. The operations took place at the San Diego International Airport, Del Mar Race Track, San Jose Mineta International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport.

The CPUC has also recently taken a number of actions to protect consumers from illegally operating moving companies. Six companies were cited and fined (totaling $29,250) for various operating violations and one company was directed to pay $7,475 in consumer restitution. The CPUC also had telephone service shut off to three moving companies operating without a permit.

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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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© 2009, California Public Utilities Commission. All rights reserved.
December 2009

 



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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