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Advocacy at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
CEERT’s Regulatory Counsel Sara Steck Myers and Associate Regulatory Attorney Megan Myers act as advocates and intervenors before the CPUC and other regulatory agencies to ensure fairly pricing for clean power, improve renewable energy procurement planning, and strengthen implementation of the state’s mandated climate and clean-energy goals. CEERT is helping lead the fight for innovative policies that reflect the true value, costs, and benefits of clean, renewable energy.
Summary of CEERT’s Advocacy at the CPUC
CEERT has been active in the following proceedings: Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) (R.20-05-003), Resource Adequacy (R.19-11-009 and R.21-10-002), Gas Reliability (R.20-01-007), Microgrids (R.19-09-009), Aliso Canyon (I.17-02-002), Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) (R.20-05-012), and Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (IDER) (R.14-10-003).
New Events at the CPUC
In February and March, numerous parties submitted Applications for Approval of their 2024-2031 Energy Efficiency Business Plans and 2024-2027 Portfolio Plans. In March, PG&E submitted an Application for Approval of its 2023-2026 Clean Energy Optimization Pilot (CEOP). In April, the CPUC adopted the Environmental & Social Justice (ESJ) Action Plan 2.0 and the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Action Plan 2.0. On May 2, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E submitted Applications for Approval of Demand Response (DR) Programs for 2023-2027. These items are discussed in more detail below.
2024-2031 Energy Efficiency Business Plans and 2024-2027 Portfolio Plans (A.22-02-005, et al.)
On February 15, PG&E submitted its Application for Approval of 2024-2031 EE Strategic Business Plan and 2024-2027 Portfolio Plan. On March 4, 2022, BayREN (A.22-03-003), 3C-REN (A.22-03-004), SDG&E (A.22-03-005), SCE (A.22-03-007), SoCalGas (A.22-03-008), SoCalREN (A.22-03-011), and MCE (A.22-03-012) submitted Applications. In addition, Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) submitted a Motion for Approval of Energy Efficiency Portfolio Application in R.13-11-005.
On March 17, Chief ALJ Simon issued a Ruling Consolidating Proceedings; Preliminary Determining Category, Need for Hearings, and Assignment; and Setting Protest and Response Deadlines. This Ruling consolidates the above-identified Applications, and moves consideration of RCEA’s Motion into this consolidated proceeding. A preliminary determination is that this is a ratesetting proceeding and that hearings may be necessary. Responses and Protests were submitted on April 25.
On April 4, ALJs Fitch and Kao issued a Ruling that sets a Prehearing Conference (PHC) for May 17 to determine the scope and schedule for the proceeding.
On April 15, the Public Advocates Office submitted a Motion to Consolidate SCE’s EE Business Plan Application (A.22-03-007) and its Building Electrification Programs Application (A.21-12-009). The Motion argues that consolidation of the Applications would facilitate the efficient consideration of both proceedings. On April 25, Replies to the Responses and Protests to the Applications were submitted.
PG&E Clean Energy Optimization Pilot (CEOP) (A.22-03-006)
On March 4, PG&E submitted its Application for Approval of its 2023-2026 CEOP. On April 4, the Regents of the University of California submitted a Response to the Application. On April 8, Public Advocates Office (PAO) submitted a Protest and SCE submitted a Response to the Application. PAO protests because PG&E does not demonstrate that the proposed budget and duration for its CEOP is reasonable. PAO also asks for an explanation of why the project qualifies under P.U. Code Section 748.5(c) or why the project is best funded using GHG allowance revenues instead of ordinary recovery through rates. SCE supports PG&E’s Application and argues that the CEOP aligns with California’s overall clean energy objectives.
On April 18, PG&E submitted a Reply to the Responses and Protest. PG&E generally does not oppose PAO’s list of issues anticipated to be within the scope of the proceeding, and proposes a scope of the proposed policy track for a longer-term program.
A Prehearing Conference was held on April 28. The scope of issues discussed include (1) whether the CEOP is compliant with applicable statutes related to the use of Cap-and-Trade allowance revenues for clean energy and energy efficiency projects; (2) whether the CEOP meets D.14-10-033’s requirements for clean energy and energy efficiency projects to demonstrate that existing funds are available to fund the proposed pilot, explain why the project qualifies under P.U. Code Section 748.5(c), explain why the project is best funded to use GHG allowance revenues instead of ordinary recovery through rates, reference the Forecast Clean Energy Amount, and explain why the proposed pilot is reasonable; (3) whether there are safety concerns; and (4) impacts on environmental and social justice communities.
The proposed proceeding schedule is as follows:
- August 24: Direct Testimony
- September 26: Rebuttal Testimony
- October 10: Meet and Confer
- October 17: Joint Case Management Statement
- November 7-11: Evidentiary Hearings
- December 5: Opening Briefs
- December 19: Reply Briefs
The issues and schedule will be finalized in an upcoming Scoping Memo.
Environmental and Social Justice (ESJ) Action Plan 2.0
On April 7, the CPUC voted to adopt the ESJ Action Plan Version 2.0. There are nine updated goals and objectives:
- Consistently integrate equity and access considerations throughout CPUC regulatory landscape
- Increase investment in clean energy resources to benefit ESJ communities, especially to improve local air quality and public health
- Strive to improve access to high-quality water, communications, and transportation services for ESJ communities
- Increase climate resiliency for ESJ communities
- Enhance outreach and public participation opportunities for ESJ communities to meaningfully participate in the CPUC’s decision-making process and benefit from CPUC programs
- Enhance enforcement to ensure safety and consumer protection for all, especially for ESJ communities
- Promote high road career paths and economic opportunity for residents of ESJ communities
- Improve training and staff development related to environmental and social justice issues within the CPUC’s jurisdiction
- Monitor the CPUC’s environmental and social justice efforts to evaluate how they are achieving their objectives
Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Action Plan 2.0
On April 21, the CPUC voted to adopt the DER Action Plan 2.0, which can be found HERE. The Plan covers actions in the 2022-2026 period, and is divided into four tracks: load flexibility and rates, grid infrastructure, market integration, and DER customer programs.
Demand Response (DR) Applications (A.22-05-XXX, et al.)
On May 2, PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E filed their Applications for Approval of their DR Programs, Pilots, and Budgets for Program Years 2023-2027. All three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) asked for an expedited schedule.
CPUC Energy Planning and Procurement and Resource Adequacy
Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) (R.20-05-003) and Procurement-Related Activities
Throughout this proceeding, CEERT has urged the CPUC to adopt a 30 million metric ton (MMT) greenhouse gas (GHG) target, and to find that fossil-fueled generation is not needed in the Preferred System Plan (PSP). We have also argued that Aliso Canyon must be closed as soon as possible.
On February 10, the CPUC issued D.22-02-004, which adopts the 2021 Preferred System Plan (PSP). Attachment A to the Decision are Modeling Assumptions for the 2022-2023 Transmission Planning Process. The Decision evaluates the 2020 individual IRP filings of all the load-serving entities (LSEs) under the CPUC’s IRP purview, and adopts a PSP portfolio that meets a statewide 38 MMT GHG target for the electric sector in 2030. This portfolio was developed first as an aggregation of the individual IRPs of all LSEs, reflecting the resource preferences of those LSEs. However, there will be more opportunities in the proceeding to urge the CPUC to adopt a lower GHG target more quickly.
On March 29, ALJ Fitch issued a Proposed Decision (PD) on a Modified Cost Adjustment Mechanism (MCAM) for Opt-Out and Backstop Procurement Obligations. The PD adopts a MCAM to ensure that the net costs of electric resource procurement obligations mandated in D.19-11-016 and D.21-06-035 are allocated and recovered in a fair, economical, and legally compliant manner. The CPUC authorizes the use of non-bypassable customer charges as the means through which to recover above-market MCAM costs, while assigning the costs of the associated resource adequacy and renewable energy benefits at the relevant market price benchmark to the non-utility LSEs.
The MCAM adopted therein sets forth governing principles and methodologies whereby the costs associated with this incremental procurement conducted by the incumbent IOUs on behalf of other non-IOU LSEs will be allocated and recovered, and sets precedent for any future backstop procurement authorized in the IRP process in the future, unless and until the CPUC adopts a more comprehensive programmatic approach to IRP procurement authorizations. Opening Comments were submitted on April 18 and Reply Comments on April 25.
On April 20, ALJ Fitch issued a Ruling that establishes a process by which LSEs may update their load forecasts, leading to final load forecasts and GHG emissions benchmarks, for purposes of the filing of the individual integrated resource plans due from all LSEs on November 1. The Ruling also seeks party feedback on the GHG-emissions planning targets for the electric sector in 2035. All LSEs wishing to modify their load forecasts shall file and serve energy and peak demand load forecast templates in this proceeding and submit them to CPUC and CEC Staff no later than May 16. If appropriate for the data being filed as detailed further in the ruling, all LSEs may file their templates under seal without the need to file a separate motion seeking confidential treatment. If an LSE is satisfied with its load forecast from the CEC, it may simply state this in its filed written comments by May 16 without filing a new template. Opening Comments on the proposed electric sector GHG targets in 2035 were due on May 16, and Reply Comments on the GHG targets and LSE energy and peak demand forecast filings on May 23.
Resource Adequacy (RA) (R.19-11-009/R.21-10-002)
On January 21, several parties and Energy Division submitted Phase 2 proposals. A Workshop on these proposals was held on February 4. CEERT submitted Opening Comments on February 14, urging the CPUC to adopt the Joint Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Parties’ Phase 2 Proposal, and agreeing with the California Efficiency + Demand Management Council on Load Impact Protocols (LIPs). We submitted Reply Comments on February 24, agreeing with parties that support the Joint DER Parties Phase 2 Proposal and recommending that the CPUC consider comments on the CEC Qualifying Capacity of Supply-Side Demand Response Working Group Report before making any modifications to the LIPs.
On January 27, Chief ALJ Simon issued a Notice of Reassignment advising that R.21-10-002 has been reassigned from former CPUC President Batjer to current CPUC President Reynolds. On January 28, Chief ALJ Simon issued a Notice of Reassignment doing the same in R.19-11-009.
On February 10, ALJ Chiv issued a Proposed Decision on Phase 1 of the Implementation Track adopting modifications to the Central Procurement Entity (CPE) structure, including revisions to the requirements for self-shown local resources, revisions to the CPE’s solicitation selection criteria, and revisions to the CPE procurement timeline. Opening Comments were submitted on March 2 and Reply Comments were submitted on March 7. Final Decision D.22-03-034 was issued on March 18.
On February 18, ALJ Chiv issued a Ruling which sought comment on the Energy Division’s Loss of Load Expectation (LOLE) Study and the CEC’s QC of Supply-Side DR Working Group Interim Report. Opening Comments were submitted on March 14 and Reply Comments on March 22. Comments on the Draft 2023 Local Capacity Requirement Report were submitted on April 22.
On March 4, ALJ Chiv issued a Ruling Seeking Comments on the Future of RA Working Group Report and the LCR Working Group Report. Opening Comments on the LCR Working Group Report were submitted on March 14 and Reply Comments on March 22. On March 24, 2022, CEERT submitted Opening Comments on the Future of RA Working Group Report.
CEERT supports the Southern California Edison (SCE) proposal for monthly slices of 24 hours, and we recommended testing a new compliance reporting template in compliance year 2023 to enable LSEs to report on resources that are procured for 2024 in a way that can assure the CPUC Staff that the Hourly Slice of Day Framework is robust across all parts of the state. On April 1, CEERT submitted Reply Comments, arguing that the Gridwell Proposal does not comply with D.21-07-014. We also argued that energy deliverability in off-peak hours must be addressed, and that policies promoting the closure of gas power plants in disadvantaged communities need to be coordinated across multiple proceedings.
On April 7, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) submitted its Draft Local Capacity Technical Analysis for 2023.
On April 17, the CPUC adopted a Revised Proposed Decision Denying the Petition for Modification (PFM) of OhmConnect of D.20-06-031. In its PFM, OhmConnect argued that D.20-06-031 should be modified to increase the DR bucket cap from 8.3% to 11.3%. The Decision finds that Rule 16.4(d) requires a PFM to be filed within one year of the decision, and if more than a year has elapsed, the PFM must explain why it could not have been presented within the year. Rule 16.4(b) requires that any allegations of new or changed facts must be supported by an appropriate declaration or affidavit. The Decision denies the PFM because it failed to satisfy the requirements of Rules 16.4(b) and 16.4(d).
On April 28, ALJ Chiv issued a Ruling Modifying Schedule for Flexible Capacity Requirement (FCR) Issues. CAISO had stated that it currently plans to finalize the 2023 Flexible Capacity Needs Assessment by mid-May. This means that the FCR Report may not be incorporated into the upcoming proposed decision, expected to issue on May 20, and it may be necessary to issue a separate decision on the FCR Report. Therefore, the schedule for FCR issues is modified as below:
- May 6: Comments on final 2023 Local Capacity Requirement (LCR) Report
- May 13: Reply Comments on final 2023 LCR Report
- Mid-May: CAISO final 2023 FCR Report filed
- 2nd Business Day after the date CAISO files its FCR Report: Comments on final 2023 FCR Report
Grid for High Distributed Energy Resource (DER) (R.21-06-017)
There has not been a significant amount of activity in this proceeding since our last Quarterly Report. However, on May 3, Gridworks and the CPUC Energy Division hosted a workshop kicking off Track Two of this proceeding. Pursuant to the Scoping Memo, Track Two will cover distribution system operator roles and responsibilities. All available workshop materials can be found HERE.
CPUC Gas System and Grid Initiatives
Aliso Canyon (I.17-02-002)
On January 19, ALJ Zhang issued a Ruling entering into the record Aliso Canyon Investigation 17-02-002, Phase 3 Report, and requesting Comments. Opening Comments were submitted on February 16 and Reply Comments on March 2.
On February 9, ALJ Zhang issued a Ruling Entering into the Record Aliso Canyon Investigation 17-02-002 Phase 2: Additional Modeling Report, and requesting Comments. Opening Comments on the Report were submitted on March 1 and Reply Comments on March 15.
Gas Reliability and System Planning (R.20-01-007)
On January 5, Commissioner Shiroma issued an Amended Scoping Memo and Ruling that identifies issues in Track 2a: Gas Infrastructure; Track 2b: Equity, Rate Design, Gas Revenues, Safety, and Workforce Issues; and Track 2c: Data, Process.
On February 4, ALJ Goldberg issued a Ruling Setting Briefing Dates for Track 2a, Scoping Question A. Pursuant to this Ruling, Opening Briefs were submitted on February 28 and Reply Briefs on April 1.
On February 9, ALJs Bemesderfer and Goldberg issued a Ruling Seeking Data from California’s Gas Utilities, and on March 1, the ALJs issued a Revised Ruling directing PG&E, SoCalGas, SDG&E, and Southwest Gas to provide specified information about their gas systems by April 22, and encouraging gas utilities owned by Long Beach, Palo Alto, and Vernon to provide the same information by April 22.
On March 1, ALJs Bemesderfer and Goldberg issued a Ruling that includes Energy Division’s Draft Workshop Report for Track 2a, and orders PG&E, SoCalGas and Southwest Gas to propose safety parameters and regulatory processes to de-rate pipelines on their system from transmission to distribution. The Ruling directs parties to respond to a remaining question from the Workshop: what should the regulatory process be for de-rating a transmission pipeline to a distribution pipeline? Responses and Comments on the Draft Workshop Report were submitted on March 15.
On March 18, 2022, ALJs Bemesderfer and Goldberg issued a Proposed Decision (PD) that extends the SoCalGas Rule 30 Operational Flow Order (OFO) winter noncompliance penalty structure adopted in D.19-05-030 and extended by D.21-11-021 to year-round, and makes it applicable to SoCalGas, SDG&E, and PG&E service territories. Opening Comments were submitted on April 7 and Reply Comments on April 12. The PD was issued as D.22-04-042 on April 22.
On March 24, ALJ Goldberg issued a Ruling noticing a March 29 Equity Workshop that addressed equity challenges relating to the gas transition, with perspectives from a number of California communities. The Ruling also directed Southwest Gas Corporation to file a Draft Workshop Report by May 6.
On April 15, ALJ Bemesderfer issued a Ruling Granting the Joint Motion of PG&E, SDG&E, SoCalGas, and Southwest Gas Corporation for an extension to May 20 to submit gas distribution system and gas consumption information.
There has not been a significant amount of activity in this proceeding since our last Quarterly Report.
Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) (R.20-05-012)
On April 11, the CPUC issued D.22-04-036, which approves final budgets, incentive levels and other program requirements for the SGIP Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) program adopted in D.19-09-027 and D.20-01-021. Of the $44.7 million in SGIP HPWH funds, the CPUC allocates $4.7 million toward administration of the program and $40 million toward HPWH incentives. The $40 million in HPWH incentive funds includes $19 million to each of the general market residential and equity residential customer segments, and $2 million for nonresidential unitary HPWH incentives, e.g., for small businesses.
The decision allocates an additional $40 million in 2023 gas Cap-and-Trade allowance proceeds to the SGIP HPHW program for a total SGIP HPWH program budget of $84.7 million. It also adopts detailed appliance, installation, and load shifting requirements, and electric panel and electrical service upgrade incentives and requirements for these customer segments. Customers using SGIP HPWH incentives are required to enroll in a qualified demand response program. The CPUC prohibits use of SGIP HPWH program funds toward commercial central HPWH system incentives.
The CPUC adopts a single statewide program administrator/program implementor (PA/PI) structure for the SGIP HPWH program. CPUC Staff will select the SGIP HPWH PA/PI through a competitive request for proposal process that will be administered by Southern California Edison. SCE shall enter into a contract with the vendor for the selected PA/PI and will be responsible for collecting and disbursing funding. The PA/PI shall be solely selected and managed by CPUC Staff.
The CPUC requires the selected SGIP HPWH PA/PI to develop and implement an eligible contractor list that tracks and prioritizes in search results those contractors with preferred workforce training and development practices or that are located in a disadvantaged community. The CPUC adopts additional requirements, including measurement and evaluation of the GHG and other benefits of the HPWH incentives.
Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (IDER) (R.14-10-003)
On March 30, ALJ Hymes issued a Proposed Decision (PD) Adopting Changes to the Avoided Cost Calculator (ACC). The CPUC anticipates establishing a successor to this proceeding devoted to the valuation of distributed energy resources (DERs). This PD calls for continued discussion in the successor proceeding of guiding principles, guidelines for sensitivity cases, further investigation of the staff-proposed Market Equilibrium Approach, development of alternative methods for allocating distribution costs, methods to properly value GHG-emissions avoided costs, and a review of potential improvements to the GHG rebalancing method.
Parties in this proceeding spoke about the need for improved transparency in future updates of the ACC. Hence, this PD adopts a schedule that provides a final staff proposal at the beginning of the process, additional opportunities for data requests, and additional and longer review of data produced using inputs from the IRP proceeding. With respect to the update of the 2022 ACC, the PD recognizes the growth of building and transportation electrification and prepares for such a future by removing DERs’ load growth from the “No New DER” Scenario, creating an avoided gas infrastructure cost, and adopting an interim gas-specific GHG adder.
Parties highlighted the need for accuracy. Hence, other revisions to the ACC strived for improved accuracy, including adoption of a new annualization approach using the National Economic Research Association method and allocation of generation capacity values using the production cost modeling from the IRP proceeding. A theme throughout this decision is the importance of aligning the ACC with the IRP proceeding. The CPUC’s intent in adopting this alignment is to ensure that all resources are evaluated equally, be they DERs or supply-side resources. Therefore, the decision adopts the policy that the update of the ACC will rely on an adopted Reference System Plan or Preferred System Plan.
Opening Comments were submitted on April 19 and Reply Comments on April 25.
Other CPUC Proceedings CEERT Continues to Track
As noted in previous Quarterly Reports, CEERT is either a party to or on the service list for numerous CPUC proceedings that have required or could require CEERT participation, and CEERT continues to track them in anticipation of participating now or in the future.
Because these proceedings were not the focus of CEERT’s efforts from February – April 2022, only limited information about them is provided here, but is available from CEERT’s regulatory counsel, Megan Myers (email@example.com) or Sara Myers at (firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please do not hesitate to contact them for information on any of the following proceedings as to status or next steps.
Net Energy Metering (NEM) (R.20-08-020)
As previously reported, on December 13, ALJ Hymes issued a Proposed Decision revising the NEM tariff and subtariffs to balance the multiple requirements of P.U. Code Section 2827.1 and the needs of the grid, the environment, participating ratepayers, and all other ratepayers. At every CPUC Business Meeting since this item was issued there have been numerous members of the public who have spoken out against the Proposed Decision. Oral Argument was scheduled for January 12, but on January 11 ALJ Hymes e-mailed that the Oral Argument was cancelled and would be rescheduled.
PG&E’s Regionalization (A.20-06-011)
On April 18, ALJ Stevens issued a Proposed Decision (PD) approving, with conditions, the August 31, 2021 Motion to adopt a multiparty settlement agreement (MPSA) among PG&E, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the California Large Energy Consumers Association, the Center for Accessible Technology, the Coalition of California Utility Employees, the Public Advocates Office, the Small Business Utility Advocates, and William B. Abrams. The MPSA proposes to approve PG&E’s updated Regionalization Proposal, with additional conditions, to create regions for PG&E’s operations designed to enhance its ability to meet its safety obligations. The PD also approves, without conditions, a second settlement agreement (SSJIDA) between PG&E and the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, included in the August 31, 2021 motion. Opening Comments were due on May 9 and Reply Comments on May 16.
On April 20, ALJ Stevens issued a Ruling Noting Procedural Next Steps. The Ruling directs the settling parties to the MPSA to address whether the modification stated in the PD is acceptable or whether they wish to request other relief.
Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) (R.18-07-003)
On March 10, SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E submitted a Motion Concerning Review of Market Offer Process. The Joint IOUs request that the CPUC issue a Ruling authorizing them to seek review of the Market Offer Process through a Tier 3 Advice Letter submitted April 29, rather than through each of their Draft 2022 RPS Procurement Plans, in order to assure that Market Offer Renewable Energy Credit sales can coincide with voluntary allocation deliveries commencing on January 1, 2023.
On April 6, Commissioner Rechtschaffen issued an Amended Scoping Memo and Ruling that expands the proceeding scope to consider issues relevant to implementing the Voluntary Allocation Market Offer (VAMO) process, and extends the statutory deadline of this proceeding to October 2, 2023.
On April 11, Commissioner Rechtschaffen and ALJ Lakhanpal issued a Ruling that identifies the 2022 RPS Procurement Plan filing requirements for all retail sellers of electricity and sets a schedule for the CPUC’s review of the 2022 RPS Plans. The Ruling also denies the joint motion filed by the Joint IOUs requesting to file the Market Offer Process information through a Tier 3 Advice Letter, rather than through each of their Draft 2022 RPS Plans, pursuant to Decision (D.) 21-05-030. However, the CPUC approves a process for earlier resolution of the Market Offer Process issues.
The CPUC is creating two tracks in the 2022 RPS Plan review cycle to address VAMO processes directed in the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) R.17-06-026. In Track 1, the three large IOUs shall each file their proposed Market Offer Process by May 2. In Track 2, all retail sellers shall submit their draft 2022 RPS Plans no later than July 1. The Plans filed for 2022 shall be forward-looking through 2032, and should demonstrate that each retail seller’s efforts align with the state’s RPS goals. Additionally, the Plan filings should inform the CPUC of the retail seller’s activities and plans to procure 65% of RPS resources from long-term contracts of 10 or more years for all compliance periods, beginning with the current compliance period that started January 1, 2021.
On April 18, ALJ Fitch issued a Ruling seeking comments from parties on the Voluntary Allocations of RPS resources and the PCC classification of RECs under the VAMO process. Comments were submitted on April 28 and no further reply comments may be filed.
Energy Efficiency (EE) (R.13-11-005)
Decisions Regarding SoCalGas
Since our last Quarterly Report, two Decisions have been issued that penalize SoCalGas for codes and standards (C&S) activities. On March 21, the CPUC issued D.22-03-010, which is the Presiding Officer’s Decision Finding SoCalGas in Contempt, in Violation of Rule 1.1 of the CPUC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure, and Ordering Remedies for Failure to Comply with D.18-05-041. This Decision finds that SoCalGas spent ratepayer funds on C&S activities following the issuance of D.18-05-041, which prohibited such activity. The Decision imposes a host of penalties, including a penalty of $9,807,000 for violations of P.U. Code Section 2113 and 2017.
On April 18, the CPUC issued D.22-04-034, a Decision Different of Commissioner Rechtschaffen, that finds SoCalGas spent ratepayer funds on activities that misaligned with the CPUC’s directions for energy efficiency C&S advocacy with respect to 2014-2017 activities and activities involving local governments’ adoption of reach codes, in violation of P.U. Code Section 451. The Decision Different directs SoCalGas to refund ratepayer expenditures and associated shareholder incentives, orders equitable remedies for appreciable harm to the regulatory process caused by SoCalGas’s conduct, and imposes penalties of $150,000 against SoCalGas. Attached to D.22-04-034 is Commissioner Houck’s Concurrence in which she states that she did not support the Decision Different but would like the record to show that she agrees with its underlying principles as to the CPUC’s broad authority to issue penalties consistent with the law and particular circumstances presented. Commissioners Shiroma and Houck voted against the decision, but Commission President Reynolds and Commissioners Rechtschaffen and Reynolds voted to adopt it.
On April 19, ALJ Kao issued a Ruling addressing the Motion of SoCalGas for Clarification of D.22-03-010 (see above). The Ruling, in part, confirms that the specific activities identified in the Motion are not within the scope of D.22-03-010’s prohibition on SoCalGas’s use of ratepayer funds: (1) safe placement of customer-owned step-down regulators so they may be accessed for leak testing; (2) monitoring changes in the Natural Fuel Gas Code to ensure safe, leak-free, and durable piping; (3) issues about locations of meters and clearances around meters; and (4) supporting hardware requirements. SoCalGas must nevertheless include these activities within the scope of D.22-03-010’s requirement to track employee time.
Other Activity in this Proceeding
On March 25, ALJ Fitch issued a Ruling Granting Extension Request for Energy Efficiency Annual Report Submittal.
On April 11, ALJs Kao and Fitch issued a Proposed Decision Correcting Errors in D.21-09-037 Regarding Energy Efficiency Goals for 2022-2032. The tables on pages 19 through 21 of D.21-09-037 show incorrect numbers for the C&S goals applicable to each IOU. The correct numbers account for interactive effects, which is consistent with CPUC policy for setting energy efficiency goals. Opening Comments were submitted on May 2 and Reply Comments on May 9.
Building Decarbonization (R,19-01-011)
On January 28, ALJs Liang-Uejio and Tran issued a Ruling Seeking Clarifications and Additional Information. To obtain clarification of parties’ positions along with further information and evidence on issues in Phase III of this proceeding, specific parties named shall, and all other parties may, file and serve responses to the questions in Attachment 1 of this Ruling. Responses were submitted on February 22.
On March 22, ALJs Liang-Uejio and Tran issued a Ruling that (a) informs parties of a March 14 Energy Division data request (ED-DR) sent to PG&E, SoCalGas, SDG&E, and Southwest Gas Company;
(b) directs the gas utilities to verity and serve their responses to the ED-DR on all parties by April 4;
(c) provides an opportunity for parties to comment on the gas utilities’ responses to the ED-DR request by April 11; and (d) updates the schedule for the remainder of this proceeding.
On April 18, ALJs Tran and Liang-Uejio issued a Ruling that receives into the evidentiary record of this proceeding the responses of PG&E, SoCalGas, SDG&E, and Southwest Gas to Energy Division’s March 14 Data Request. It also addresses the final common outline parties shall use for briefs.
Opening Briefs were submitted on May 4, and Reply Briefs are due on May 18.
Improvements to Rule 21 (R.17-07-007)
On April 18, the CPUC issued D.22-04-003, a Decision Exempting Small Multi-Jurisdictional Utilities (SMJUs) from Applying Rule 21 Requirements Adopted in Earlier Decisions in this Rulemaking. The three SMJUs, Bear Valley, Liberty, and PacifiCorp, initiated “Working Group 8” to develop proposals to address the 22 interconnection issues previously resolved in this proceeding but related to large IOUs. The Decision adopts the recommendation not to make any changes to the interconnection processes for SMJUs, with three minor modifications involving cost itemization, itemized billing processes, and participation in the Unintentional Islanding Working Group. Further, the Decision directs SMJUs to hold a workshop, within 90 days of the adoption of this decision, to discuss interconnection portal improvements. Given the SMJUs’ small customer base and their low distributed energy resources interconnection rates compared to the IOUs, it is reasonable to not require changes to their interconnection processes.
On April 26, ALJ Hymes issued a Ruling that establishes the schedule for Phase II of this rulemaking and provides guidance to parties on the contents of Opening Testimony for this phase. Opening Testimony shall be served on September 30 and Reply Testimony on October 21. The ruling notifies parties that a second workshop to continue discussion on distribution upgrades cost-sharing proposals is to be held remotely on June 3.
Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA) (R.17-06-026)
On April 18, ALJ Wang issued a Ruling which requested comments on how to calculate certain Market Price Benchmarks (MPB) for the PCIA. Opening Comments on the RPS MPB calculation were submitted on April 28 and Reply Comments on May 12. Proposals for calculating the Energy Index MPB are due May 27, Comments on the Energy Index MPB on June 16, and Reply Comments on June 30.
COVID-19 Debt (R.21-02-014)
On April 18, the CPUC issued D.22-04-037, which provides a framework to establish and operate a Community Based Organization (CBO) Case Management Pilot Program (CBO Pilot). The CBO Pilot is designed to operate in targeted California communities where, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, electric bills were highest relative to the available resources of the community. The CBO Pilot is intended to serve customers who would otherwise continue to face difficulty in resolving their utility bill debt once the statewide relief distributed to utilities is applied to customer accounts. The statewide relief program required energy utilities to apply relief funds to customer accounts by the end of March. Pursuant to the relief program, the energy utilities are prohibited from disconnecting customers in receipt of relief for 90 days after the funds are applied.
The Decision establishes a CBO Pilot Working Group to guide and oversee the development of the program, including selection of the CBOs in the targeted communities. Together with a CBO selected by the Working Group at the initial meeting, PG&E will co-lead the Pilot Working Group, and representatives from a variety of advocacy groups, oversight boards, and CBOs are invited to participate. The CPUC expects approximately 12,000 customers to receive case management services from the CBO Pilot, with the CBO Pilot Working Group recommending a specific number in the proposal to be filed in R.18-07-005. The CPUC also expects retention of these customer accounts in good standing and requires an update on the status of the customers’ accounts within a year past the debt resolution mark.
The Decision also requires the CBO Pilot Working Group to consider and propose a budget, payment structure, and evaluation method for the CBO Pilot. The budget, payment structure, and evaluation method for the CBO Pilot will be filed as the CBO Pilot Working Group’s formal proposal for the CBO Pilot by PG&E in the Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider New Approaches to Disconnections and Reconnections to Improve Energy Access and Contain Costs, Rulemaking R.18-07-005. Assessment of and issuance of a proposed decision for the CBO Pilot will occur in R.18-07-005. This decision closes the instant proceeding and transfers all remaining issues and implementation to R.18-07-005.
On March 4, ALJ Wang issued a Ruling that directed Southwest Gas, Liberty Utilities, Bear Valley Electric Service, PacifiCorp, Alpine Natural Gas, and West Coast Gas to respond to questions in Attachment A. Opening Comments were submitted on April 8 and Reply Comments on April 22.
On March 25, ALJ Wang issued a Ruling Directing Utilities to File Arrearages Management Plan (AMP) Updates. PG&E, SDG&E, and SoCalGas submitted status updates on their AMP programs on May 2. Opening Comment on the AMP status updates were due May 16 and Reply Comments on May 30.
Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) (R.18-07-017)
On April 28, 2022, ALJ Lakhanpal issued a Proposed Decision Adopting Provisions in the New Qualifying Facility (QF) Standard Offer Contract (SOC) for Storage-Paired PURPA QFs. The Proposed Decision does the following:
- Authorizes the Joint IOUs to offer the New QF SOC to storage-paired QFs that have self-certified as QFs or to which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted QF status;
- Authorizes the Joint IOUs to modify the New QF SOC to add their proposed Section 9.02(j) (Additional Covenants by Seller) and Section 9.04(i) (Indemnity) from their June 2020 advice letters for storage-paired QFs that exclusively charge from the eligible energy resources;
- Requires IOUs to submit a Tier 1 advice letter each within 15 days of issuance of this decision with a pro forma New QF SOC including a redline version comparing the new contract with the superseded prior contract;
- Authorizes the IOUs to bilaterally negotiate with storage-paired QFs charging from the grid while using the New QF SOC as the base contract and submit a Tier 2 advice letter for approval of the nonstandard contract. The negotiations are limited to modifying the New QF SOC’s scheduling and metering provisions and revising or eliminating Section 9.02(j) and Section 9.04(i);
- Clarifies that storage-paired QFs that include hybrid and co-located storage configurations with a combined nameplate capacity above 20 MWs are eligible for the New QF SOC as long as the net power production capacity is limited to 20 MW at the point of interconnection;
- Defers to the RA Proceeding to define hybrid and co-located storage-paired QFs considering the CAISO initiatives for market participation and operationalization of these resources. The definitions adopted in D.20-06-031 shall continue to apply; and
- Declines to adopt any specific pricing mechanism for storage paired with QFs. The pricing options adopted in D.20-05-006 for capacity and energy remain unchanged.
Opening Comments were due on May 18 and Reply Comments on May 23.
Additional proceedings tracked, but where there has been little or no activity since our last Quarterly Report or the proceeding has been closed:
- 13-09-011: Demand Response
- 18-04-019: Climate Change Adaptation
- 18-07-006: Affordability
Associate Regulatory Attorney