Seeking Comments on Retail Choice Paper and Other Questions

On June 1, 2017, the CPUC's President, Michael Picker, requested informal comments from the public on the CPUC's Staff White Paper titled "Consumer and Retail Choice, the Role of the Utility, and an Evolving Regulatory Framework," published May 9, 2017, and on the questions posed to the panelist (see below) at the Joint CPUC and California Energy Commission En Banc on The Changing Nature of Consumer and Retail Choice in California, held on May 19, 2017. 

·         White Paper: Consumer and Retail Choice, the Role of the Utility, and an Evolving Regulatory Framework, published May 9, 2017  

·         Archived Webcast of En Banc, May 19, 2017  

·         En Banc Main Webpage, May 19, 2017

Parties are encouraged to focus on the questions that were asked of the panelists that most closely represent them or the interests of their organizations.  Parties are welcomed to attach any reports that they want the CPUC to consider as appendices to their comments. The page limit on comments is two pages for comments on the White Paper and two pages for each set of questions posed to a panelist at the En Banc.  Reports included as appendices will not count against the page limit.  These informal comments are not part of a formal proceeding and will not be part of a proceeding record.  However, if the comments relate to a formal CPUC proceeding, the CPUC's Rules of Practice and Procedure for ex parte communications will apply.    

 Comments must be submitted toSuzanne.Casazza@cpuc.ca.gov by June 16, 2017

En Banc Panelist Questions

The May 19, 2017, En Banc consisted of four panels featuring representative from 1) consumer groups, 2) non-utility energy suppliers including rooftop solar, community choice aggregators, and direct access providers, 3) Investor-Owned Utilities, and 4) outside energy industry experts.  The public may provide comments on the following questions posed to Panelists at the En Banc.

I.             Panel Discussion: What Customers Want

Overview and discussion of priorities and requirements of major customer categories, including the types of retail electricity choices they want, key consumer protection concerns, general view on the structure of California's retail electricity market, and the role of regulatory agencies and utilities.

-       Moderator: Ralph Cavanagh, Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC)

-       Marcel Hawiger, Attorney, The Utility Reform Network

-       Strela Cervas, Co-Executive Director, California Environmental Justice Alliance

-       Tim McRae, Vice President, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

-       Mark Byron, University of California, Office of President

-       Nora Sheriff, Alcantar-Kahl Law representing California Large Energy Consumers Association

-       Katie Jackson, Vice President, Jackson Family Wines

Questions for Interested Stakeholders (2 pages)

A.    In this 'future' retail electric system, how do you see the role for the regulated utility evolving and what role do consumers' choices play in achieving broad public policy goals?

B.    As technology and customer engagement evolves, what regulatory models do you believe are best suited to allow customers to make the choices they want while ensuring that all necessary investments are made to achieve California's environmental and reliability goals? Do you think that the CPUC should react to it over time, or attempt to shape its direction (and conditions)?

C.    Should residential customers have access to alternative retail suppliers other than CCAs? If so, describe the types of choices you want to have?

D.    One concern about expanding consumer choice is safeguarding consumer from bad actors, what consumer protections need to be in place going forward? Are there any specific conditions, beyond essential consumer protections, that should be imposed on non-Utility load serving entities that want to serve the residential market? Should consumer protections be limited to for-profit entities and not CCAs? Should the regulated utilities always be available as a provider of last resort?

II.           Panel Discussion: State of Customer Choice in California

Overview and discussion of current state of customer choice in California.

-       Moderator: Sue Tierney, Analysis Group

-       Anne Hoskins, Chief Policy Officer, SunRun

-       Geoff Syphers, Chief Executive Officer, Sonoma Clean Energy

-       Ron Perry, CEO, Commercial Energy

-       Jeff Cramer, Executive Director, Coalition for Community Solar Access

Questions for Interested Stakeholders (2 pages)

A.    Having heard from the customer panel, what value or services does your company/organization offer customers that is distinct from the distribution utility?  Are there specific innovations in tariffs or services that you are better equipped to provide than the traditional utilities?

B.     As retail choice grows, whether through the growth in CCA programs, customer adoption of DERs, or reinstatement of full direct access, what do you see as the role for the regulated utility and where do you see your company/organization competing and cooperating with the utility?

C.    As competition evolves and as competitive suppliers and technologies presumably supply greater shares of customers' electric energy needs, what regulatory models do you believe are best suited to promote competition while ensuring that all necessary investments are made to achieve California's environmental goals while maintaining reliability? Why?

D.     What are important authorities that the CPUC should maintain or gain in the future to regulate the supply and resource adequacy portfolios as heavily for non-IOU suppliers as it does for IOUs?  Should all retail sellers be required to procure long-term system and local capacity, or should the utilities continue to bear this responsibility? Are there other types of investments that should be made by the utilities or the ISO rather than by competitive suppliers representing many distributed decision makers?

E.    Should the cap on retail choice be lifted? If so, for all customers or only for non-residential customers? Without any limits whatsoever?  Should retail choice be available to residential customers in CCA territories?  Who should bear the provider of last resort in any particular area?

F.    Does the utility business model need to change fundamentally to accommodate greater choice? If so, in what ways?  For example, should the utilities eventually become pure distribution providers with no retail function?

G.    What role do you see yourselves as competitive suppliers playing in the provision of service to low-income and hard to serve customers? How do we ensure that these customers receive the same level and cost of service as higher income and easier to reach customers?

 III.          Panel Discussion: Investor-Owned Utility Perspective on Current State of Retail Electricity Market and Coming Changes

This panel is an opportunity for the three Investor-Owned Utilities to discuss current challenges and lay out their vision for the evolution of retail electricity choice and their 'Business Model' in this future.

-       Moderator: Ren Orans, Energy and Environmental Economics

-       Caroline Choi, Vice President, Southern California Edison

-       Steve Malnight, Executive Vice President, Pacific Gas and Electric Company

-       Dan Skopec, Vice President, San Diego Gas & Electric

Questions for Interested Stakeholders (2 pages)

A.    In this 'future' retail electric system, how do you see the role for the regulated utility evolving and what, if any, functions should be preserved for the regulated utility support achieving State policy goals? Do you see some form or another of retail "choice" as inevitable, in part as a result of technology changes like DERs?  If so, do you prefer to see public policy (including policies adopted by the CPUC) react to it or drive it?

B.    What regulatory models do you believe are best suited to promote competition while overseeing distribution utilities as their roles change? Should the CPUC have the clear authority to regulate the supply and resource adequacy portfolios as heavily for non-IOU suppliers as it does for IOUs?  Are there other types of investments that should be made by the utilities (or the ISO) rather than by competitive suppliers representing many distributed decision makers?

IV.         "Big Think Presentation" on the Future of Retail Electricity Service

This section will be an opportunity for our panel moderators, as well as nationally recognized industry experts, to reflect on the day's discussion and share their perspectives on a) what retail electric market structures are necessary to ensure California achieves its 2030 goals; and b) what considerations must California account for related to technological change in its regulatory framework and how is technological change impacted by the structure of the investor-owned utility.

-       Moderator:  Jan Smutney-Jones, Executive Director, Independent Energy Producers Association

-       Sue Tierney, Analysis Group

-       Ren Orans, E3

-       Ralph Cavanagh, NRDC

-       Jon Wellinghoff

Questions for Interested Stakeholders (2 pages)

A.    Are there any urgent steps that the CPUC, the CEC and/or CAISO need to take over next 12-18 months to begin changing the role of the utility and the structure of regulation?

B.    Two kinds of customer choice are accelerating: customer-sited DERs and retail choice (either through CCAs and/or through other customer-driven processes).  Do you see this as inevitable, or not?  Do you think that the CPUC should react to it and/or adopt policy changes to shape it, or some of both?

C.    What entity should have final responsibility for ensuring California meets its 2030 clean energy and climate goals?

D.    What changes do each of these trends require of the distribution utilities and the regulatory framework? What are implications for resource procurement, long-term reliability and renewable integration particularly in view of the state's aggressive climate goals? What changes, if any, in the way utilities earn their profits are necessitated by the growth in these kinds of departing loads?

E.    Are the current CPUC and CAISO market rules adequate to ensure that non-utility retail sellers contribute a fair share to renewable integration and long-term reliability needs?

F.    How do you see the role for the regulated utility evolving and what, if any, what functions should be preserved for the regulated utility support achieving State policy goals?

G.    What key lessons learned from California's past and other restructuring efforts (CA Gas De-regulation, NY, HI, TX, UK) are particularly relevant as California plots the course forward.

Read the comments on our Retail Choice En Banc Comments webpage.