Direct Access (DA) service is retail electric service where customers purchase electricity from a competitive provider called an Electric Service Provider (ESP), instead of from a regulated electric utility. The utility delivers the electricity that the customer purchases from the ESP to the customer over its distribution system.
An Electric Service Provider (ESP) is a non-utility entity that offers electric service to customers within the service territory of an electric utility.

The DA program is governed by Senate Bill (SB) 695 SB 695 (effective October 11) which:

Allows nonresidential customers to purchase electricity from an ESP up to an overall historical maximum load amount in each utility territory - Requires the Commission to “allow individual retail nonresidential end-use customers to acquire electric service from other providers in each electrical corporation's [utility] distribution service territory, up to a maximum allowable total kilowatt hours annual limit,” defined as the Commission-established “maximum total kilowatt hours supplied by all other providers to distribution customers of that electrical corporation during any sequential 12-month period between April 1, 1998, and the effective date of this section.” (Section 365.1.b, California Public Utilities Code)

Limits the amount of electric load that ESPs may serve, based on a Commission-adopted three to five year phase in schedule until the historical maximum is reached in each utility territory - “Within six months of the effective date of this section, or by July 1, 2010, whichever is sooner, the commission shall adopt and implement a reopening schedule that commences immediately and will phase in the allowable amount of increased kilowatt hours over a period of not less than three years, and not more than five years, raising the allowable limit of kilowatt hours supplied by other providers in each electrical corporation's distribution service territory from the number of kilowatt hours provided by other providers as of the effective date of this section, to the maximum allowable annual limit for that electrical corporation's distribution service territory.” (Section 365.1.b, California Public Utilities Code)

Otherwise retains the suspension on the right to acquire DA service until the legislature acts - “…the right of retail end-use customers … to acquire service from other providers [e.g., ESPs but not Community Choice Aggregators] is suspended until the Legislature, by statute, lifts the suspension or otherwise authorizes direct transactions.” (Section 365.1.a, California Public Utilities Code)

Beginning with the 2013 DA open enrollment period, pursuant to D.12-12-026, the utilities used a lottery enrollment process instead of the “first-come, first-served” process. The utilities assign a random number to each accepted Six Month Notice to determine its numerical position for any space that was available under the respective utility’s Overall DA Load Cap in October 2014 (6 months after the April 2014 6-month notice submission period). Customers whose load exceeded the cap were placed on a wait list for any load that may become available through the end of 2015.
For the most recent lottery enrollment, customers or their agents submitted six-month notices during the second full business week in June 2014, between 9:00 am (PDT) on June 9, 2014 and 5:00 pm (PDT) on June 13, 2014 for load that may become available for direct access commencing in October of 2014 and continuing through 2015. The lottery for any space available under the respective utility’s DA Load Cap was held in October 2014.

Currently, the DA program is at capacity, as demand for DA service exceeded the load permitted under the adopted utility service area caps.