New Statutes Aimed At Reducing Delays In Utility Energization

On October 7 Governor Newsom signed a number of clean energy bills, including new laws aimed at speeding up utility interconnections for customers seeking to electrify their homes or install electric vehicle charging.

Senate Bill 410 (SB 410), the Powering Up Californians Act, finds that in order to meet the state’s goals for decarbonization and air quality, new and existing electric utility customers need to be able to promptly interconnect to the grid. The bill cites reports of delay in interconnecting large housing developments and electric vehicle charging equipment. According to the Act, these deficiencies demonstrate a need for improvement in the speed at which energization and service upgrades are performed, and for improvement in the electric utilities’ planning engineering and construction processes.

SB 410 requires that, on or before September 30, 2024, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) must establish reasonable average and maximum time periods for electric utility interconnection and energization. These targets may vary depending on the complexity and magnitude of the work. The CPUC must also establish a procedure for customers to report delays. Annual reporting will track whether the utilities are meeting their targets, and will include utility strategies for improving in the future. These utility strategies may be supplemented by CPUC-ordered remedial actions as needed. In order to address delays caused by staffing shortages, SB 410 establishes a requirement for utility analysis of staffing, and for the CPUC to require adequate qualified staffing to achieve the Act’s objectives and requirements. The bill also requires utility load forecasting, and requires the CPUC to ensure that electric utilities will be able to recover through rates the additional costs incurred to meet statutory requirements.

Assembly Bill 50 (AB 50) establishes an additional requirement that the CPUC determine criteria for timely energization. To address existing backlogs, it also requires any electric investor-owned utility that had energized less than 35% of customers with completed applications within 12 months as of January 31, 2023 to submit a report on or before December 1, 2024 demonstrating that it has energized 80% of customers with applications deemed complete as of January 31, 2023, excluding applications that had been withdrawn, canceled, or that request energization at a date later than December 1, 2024.

The CPUC is expected to address implementation of SB 410 and AB 50 in coordination with its ongoing efforts to establish and enforce energization timelines for implementation of the utilities’ EV Infrastructure Rules (PG&E and SCE Rule 29, SDG&E Rule 45). Issues of delay and obstacles to timely interconnection were recently discussed at a September 29 workshop (presentations here), with further reporting and monitoring activities anticipated in the future.

Contact: Lynn Haug