Courtesy of Monterey Bay Community Power:
Environmental leaders from the Monterey Bay Region’s business community including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey County Farm Bureau and the Monterey Bay Regional Climate Action Compact are speaking out against a proposal being considered by the California Public Utilities Commission that could derail the state’s clean power programs and increase energy fees for residents, businesses and families.
In the coming days, the CPUC is scheduled to vote on one of two proposals for the state’s Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), an exit fee that energy customers pay when they switch to community-based clean power program providers, known as Community Choice Aggregators , in lieu of investor-owned utilities. One proposal, the Alternate Proposed Decision, put forth by CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman would immediately increase exit fees by as much as 25 percent, creating volatility and uncertainty in these fees, and threatening the future of our community choice clean energy organizations. The second proposal, the Proposed Decision (PD), issued by the Administrative Law Judge overseeing the proceeding, properly balances the elements that make up the exit fee, creating a level playing field for CCAs.
“The CPUC started weighing this decision last month at the same time as California hosted its first Global Climate Action Summit,” explains Margaret Spring, VP of Conservation and Science at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “California’s positive and proactive climate leadership is more important and timelier than ever. We respectfully urge the Commission to adopt the Proposed Decision to ensure our continued leadership in the face of climate change.”
Run by local governments, CCAs are key to the state and region’s ambitious climate change goals. There are 18 CCA programs throughout the state, operated by and accountable to individual cities and counties, each using innovative private-public partnerships to offer cleaner, cheaper energy options. If adopted by the CPUC, the APD PCIA fee proposal would shift costs to CCA customers, hampering CCA programs’ efforts to enroll more residents and expand their programmatic offerings, such as battery storage and energy efficiency. Several CCA programs are in startup phase and this exit fee proposal is expected to halt or slow these programs before their scheduled launch dates.
“Farmers throughout the tri-County area have entrusted Monterey Bay Community Power to deliver energy at a fair price,” states Norm Groot, Executive Director of Monterey County Farm Bureau. “If there is a change in the financial structure of our CCA, the threat of higher costs for agricultural energy use will be at the expense of on-farm investments for energy conservation. The promise of fair and equitable costs for energy should be the primary goal of any cost decisions considered by the Public Utilities Commission, which should adopt the Proposed Decision that favors our CCA.”
Brennen Jensen, Co-Chair for the Monterey Bay Regional Climate Action Compact, works directly with the region’s most ardent environmental leaders and shares a similar viewpoint, “The Monterey Bay Region identifies community choice energy as one of our most important tools in reducing local greenhouse gas emissions and meeting our region’s climate action goals. On the heels of the state’s release of the 4th Climate Change Assessment, the PUC’s alternative decision threatens to undermine the positive progress made by our community and community choice energy programs throughout the state, precisely at a moment when we are most in need of climate action. We support the Proposed Decision.”
In addition to stifling local communities’ efforts to embrace clean energy, the PCIA fee increase would lead to rate hikes and price volatility for customers across California. The rate increase would be particularly burdensome for low-income residents, raising significant concerns about equity issues in marginalized communities. This proposal would also continue to incentivize the mismanagement of resources by investor-owned utilities, further increasing all customers’ rates.
The CPUC vote is expected to take place on October 11. Monterey Bay Community Power and its partners in clean energy urge the CPUC to adopt the Administrative Law Judge’s proposed decision and not Commissioner Peterman’s alternate decision. The proposed decision would create a much more balanced and fair exit fee structure for customers and would also maintain exit fees at reasonable levels while transitioning to a long-term solution intended to reduce costs for all customers, to be designed during a second phase.