Direct Access, DA, is a retail electric service option whereby customers may purchase electricity from a competitive non-utility entity called an Energy Service Provider (ESP), which was originally adopted in 1996 as part of California’s energy restructuring initiative and authorized by P.U. Code Section 365.1. An ESP is a non-utility entity that offers electric service to customers within the service territory of an IOU. The IOU is still responsible for the transmission and distribution for Direct Access customers.
Since the program’s implementation in 1998, there has been several statutes passed by the legislator altering the Direct Access program. Most notably Assembly Bill (AB)X (Keely, 2001) that suspended new customers from participating in Direct Access service, Senate Bill (SB) 695 (Kehoe, 2009) that opened Direct Access to a limited amount of new load to non-residential, which was phased in over 2010 to 2013. SB 695 created a capacity “cap” of the amount of load eligible for Direct Access and formed the Direct Access Lottery system that allowed for new non-residential customers to participate in the program. The most current statue that modified the Direct Access program was SB 237 (Hertzberg, 2018) that increased the Direct Access cap by 4,000 GWh, making the statewide cap roughly 28,800 GWh. SB 237 was implemented by the CPUC in D. 19-05-043 and the additional 4,000 GWh of Direct Access load went into effect January 1st, 2021 and was split evenly between the two waitlist years 2019 and 2020.
In 2018 the Legislature approved Senate Bill (SB) 237 (Hertzberg) that required the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to 1) increase the cap on the amount of demand that can be serviced by competitive Electricity Services Providers (ESPs) through Direct Access, also referred to as direct transactions and 2) provide recommendations to the Legislature on implementing further expansion of Direct Access for which further direct transactions shall occur for all remaining nonresidential customers based on the following findings: (A) The recommendations are consistent with the state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. (B) The recommendations do not increase criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants. (C) The recommendations ensure electric system reliability. (D) The recommendations do not cause undue shifting of costs to bundled-service customers of an electrical corporation or to direct transaction customers.
The CPUC opened R.19-03-009 to implement the provisions of SB 237. In 2019 the CPUC issued decisions related to increasing the cap on the amount of demand that can be serviced by ESPs (D.19-05-043, D.19-08-004) by 4,000 GWh. In D. 21-06-033, the Commission recommending against further Direct Access expansion because it was unable to make the statutory findings
Current Regulatory Activity
Information About ESPs
How to Register as an ESP (Page)
ESP Compliance Requirements (Page)
Information about Direct Access for Customers
Direct Access Lottery Process
The Commission adopted procedures for phasing in new Direct Access load in D.12-12-026. Appendix 2 of that decision established detailed procedures for phasing in the new Direct Access load over four calendar years: Year 1 (2010) through Year 4 (2013).
Beginning with the 2013 Direct Access open enrollment period, pursuant to D.12-12-026, the utilities used a lottery enrollment process instead of the “first-come, first-served” process.
For lottery enrollment, customers or their agents submitted Six-month notices to their incumbent IOU during the second full business week in June, between Monday 9:00 am (PDT) to Friday 5:00 pm (PDT, for load that may become available for Direct Access starting in January the following year. Details on the procedure for enrolling in the Direct Access waitlist may be found in D.12-12-026. Appendix 2 and in the IOU Direct Access page.
Per Commission Decision 12-12-026 directs the Energy Division to prepare an Annual Status Report on the Direct Access (DA) lottery enrollment data of the prior year.
Link to the Current Direct Access Lottery Report
List of registered ESPs , provided pursuant to California Public Utilities Code Section 392.1(a), and PUC Decisions (D).98-03-072 and 03-12-015
Direct Access Switching Rules
For information regarding Direct Access switching rules see you IOU Direct Access pages and for the relevant tariffs.
For complaints about ESPs serving residential or small commercial customers, contact the Commission's Consumer Affairs Branch at 1-800-649-7570