​CPUC Launches Rulemaking for Expansion of Direct Access

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued a new Order Instituting Rulemaking to Implement SB 237 Regarding Direct Access and to Consider Changes to Existing Direct Access Procedures.

Since 1998 some non-residential customers have been self-procuring electricity supplies through third party electric service providers (ESP), using utility services to deliver the power. This direct access (DA) service option was suspended during the energy crisis of 2000-01, and subsequently re-opened subject to participation caps and a lottery procedure that have resulted in a fully-subscribed program for many years.

SB 237 increases the participation cap by 4,000 gigawatt hours, and instructs the CPUC to issue an order by June 1, 2019 apportioning this DA expansion among the investor-owned electric utilities. SB 237 also solicits recommendations to the Legislature on or before June 1, 2020 on implementing a further direct transactions reopening schedule pursuant to which all remaining nonresidential customer accounts could become eligible for DA.

Accordingly, the new DA rulemaking:

  • Proposes to allocate the 4,000 GWh as a percentage of each utility’s load, excluding residential and existing DA (regardless of which load serving entity currently serves the remaining load).
  • Proposes that expansion DA service will not begin until January 2020, to enable compliance with year-ahead resource adequacy requirements.
  • Proposes that the utilities enroll new DA customers from the existing waitlist.

The rulemaking also addresses two proposals previously submitted by stakeholders for changes in the current DA program rules. Interested parties may comment on:

  • Whether the DA monthly report should be revised to identify reserved load (i.e. load assigned to a customer that has a pending load replacement, load relocation, or account transfer).
  • Whether DA customers should be permitted to relocate to a new location on the same premises.

Opening comments are due April 5. Reply comments are due April 10. A prehearing conference is scheduled for April 4, and a workshop has been scheduled for April 9 at the CPUC.

ESHD attorneys can provide more information regarding Direct Access and the new DA expansion rulemaking. Contact Andy Brown or Jed Gibson for more information.