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California Detail Page

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Regulated Suppliers
Contains a listing of the electric companies under state PUC jurisdiction.
Regulatory Summary
A quick summary of the regulatory activity in each state.

Regulatory Summary

03/10: Pacific Gas and Electric Company introduced Proposition 16 which aims to make California cities and counties gain approval of two-thirds of their voters before public power authorities (agencies setup by cities and counties to purchase electricity for resale to consumers) could be established. Proponents of the proposition state that the creation of city and county public power authorities could burden taxpayers, while opponents of the proposition feel the measure would lead to reduced competition in the electricity industry. Source: The New York Times

12/08: The California Public Utilities Commission is exploring ways to lift a freeze on the competitive retail electricity program that would allow residential and large power users, including large stores, cement plants, and universities, to obtain competitive bids for the best price for electricity. However, the commission stated that one of the biggest impediments is more than two dozen power-purchase contracts signed by the State in 2001 to help end the California energy crisis. According to State law, no expansion of retail competition for electricity can occur before the last contract expires, sometime between 2015 and 2017. However, the commission voted unanimously on November 21, 2008 to set a January 2010 goal for shifting legal responsibility for the contracts from the State to California's three regulated, investor-owned utilities: Southern California Edison, Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and PG&E Corporation's Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Source: The Los Angeles Times

11/06: The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted improvements in the electric utilities' demand response programs and created several new programs. These changes are intended to improve system reliability during the summers of 2007 and 2008. Source: California Public Utilities Commission

10/04: The California Public Utilities Commission provided definition and clarification to its resource adequacy program, with the intent toward ensuring that electricity consumers of California's three largest investor-owned utilities receive service that is reliable and reasonably priced. Source: California Public Utilities Commission

01/04: The California Public Utilities Commission assured that California will have the resources to prevent electricity shortages by unanimously adopting a framework under which the state's three investor-owned utilities will plan for and obtain the energy resources investments and demand-side investments necessary with the intent to ensure that their customers receive reliable service at low and stable prices.

12/02: In accordance with Assembly Bill 57, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved procurement plans for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric as well as an operating order and servicing orders. The utilities were allowed to buy power starting January 1, 2003, thus relinquishing responsibility from the California Department of Water Resources. According to a PUC press release, the operating order describes how the utilities “will perform the operational, dispatch, and administrative functions for DWR’s Long-Term Power Purchase Contracts.” The commission also approved servicing orders between the utilities and the DWR, but the orders are only amendments to the current arrangements because neither party has been able to agree on a final arrangement.

10/02: In accordance with Assembly Bill 57, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved an interim order that allows the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric to buy their own power starting January 1, 2003. The utilities are responsible for submitting their short-term procurement plans by November 12, 2002 and their long-term plans by April 1, 2003. After the CPUC has approved each utility’s plan, the Department of Water Resources will no longer be responsible for procuring power for Californians. The CPUC also set January 6, 2003 as the date that interested parties should file a proposed procedural process and schedule to implement Senate Bill 1078.

7/02: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued two orders on July 17, 2002. The first order was a response to the California ISO's Market Design 2002 Proposal. According to the first FERC press release, FERC extended "the current West-wide requirement that all generators offer all uncommitted power for sale," "set a $250/megawatthour (MWH) bid cap for all sales in the Western Energy Coordinating Council (WECC) beginning October 1, 2002," and set the California ISO's maximum clearing price at $91.87. The second order required the California ISO to elect a new independent two-tiered Governing Board by January 1, 2003. According to the second FERC press release, the first tier would be made up of "independent, non-stakeholders" with "sole decision-making authority," and the second tier would be "an advisory committee of stakeholders that may make recommendations."

3/02: The PUC voted to keep September 20, 2001 as the suspension date for direct access. According to a PUC news release, customers can renew their contracts or change their electricity providers if they had contracts as of September 20, 2001. The PUC is hoping to impose an exit fee on these customers to provide DWR with more funds to cover the cost of purchasing power. Exit fees will be dealt with in a separate proceeding and order.

2/02: The PUC issued two decisions regarding the adoption of a rate agreement between the PUC and the Department of Water Resources and cost recovery of the agency's revenue requirements for purchasing power under ABX 1. In the first decision, the PUC adopted a rate agreement that allows the DWR to issue bonds to repay over $10 billion in debt, including over $6 billion to California's General Fund. In the second decision, the PUC agreed to implement a cost recovery mechanism for DWR's revised revenue requirements for power purchases made on behalf of the state's three largest utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric. The revenue requirement for the period covering January 17, 2001 through December 31, 2002 is $9 billion, which is significantly lower than the original requirement. The PUC adopted a 9.295 per kilowatthour charge for PG&E customers, 9.744 cents per kWh for SCE customers, and 7.285 cents per kWh for SDG&E customers. According the PUC revenue requirement order, "these charges shall apply to each DWR-supplied kWh included on bills rendered on or after March 15, 2002."

10/01: The CPUC suspended retail choice in California. The CPUC estimates that about 5 percent of the State's peak load of 46,000 MW is currently under direct access contracts, mostly with large industrial customers. Contracts in place will be allowed to continue until their expiration.

10/01: The CPUC and Southern California Edison reached a settlement concerning the lawsuit filed by SCE against the CPUC in November 2000. SCE claimed the PUC had violated federal law and unconstitutionally took property by its actions in not providing sufficient retail rates for SCE. The settlement is intended to restore SCE's creditworthiness and enable it to begin purchasing power for its retail customers, limit ratepayers' cost of paying off SCE debt, and enable SCE to pay its debt over a reasonable, certain period of time.

6/01:The CPUC set a tiered rate structure for the 3-cent per kilowatthour increase adopted March 27, 2001. Residential customers of Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison will see rate increases of between zero and 80 percent, depending on their usage. Those using below 130 percent of the baseline amount and exempted or low income consumers will see no increase. The tiered structure gradually increases the percentage of increase to 80 percent for customers who use over 300 percent of the baseline amount. Commercial rates will increase between 34 and 45 percent, industrial rates will increase an average of 50 percent, and agricultural rates will increase 15 to 20 percent. The new rates will begin June 1, 2001.

6/01: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] extended and broadened its price mitigation and market monitoring plan (issued in April 2001). The price mitigation plan will now apply to spot market sales 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in all 11 States in the Western Systems Coordinating Council. The formula to calculate the market clearing price is changed to reflect the marginal cost of replacing gas used for generation, based on gas prices reported in Gas Daily for three spot market prices in California, adjust operating and maintentance expense upward, and eliminate the emission costs from the calculation (emission costs will be invoiced to the California ISO and recovered separately). The price mitigation efforts will now apply to all spot market prices. When operating reserves are above 7 percent, the prices may not exceed 85 percent of the highest hourly price that was in effect during the most recent Stage 1 reserve deficiency period called by the ISO.

4/01: The FERC announced a plan for market monitoring and price mitigation designed to bring price releif to the California market and price certainty to buyers and sellers while promoting energy conservation and encouraging investment in generation and transmission. During periods when operating reserves fall below 7 percent, the market clearing price will be based on the highest bid of the highest cost gas-fired unit located in California that is needed to serve the CA ISO load on any day in which a reserve deficiency is called. The gas-fired generators are required to submit their heat and emission rates to the FERC and the CA ISO, and the ISO will calculate the marginal cost for each generator, including operating and maintenance costs. Prices during the period of operating reserve deficiency will be limited to the margainal costs of the highest cost (as calculated by the ISO) generator brought online to meet demand.

3/01: The FERC issued an order to 13 power sellers in the California market to either make refunds for power sales above the proxy market clearing price during stage three emergencies or provide further justification of their prices. FERC also released a staff report on proposed long-term market mitigation measures, a replacement market monitoring plan expected to be in place by May 2001.

3/01: The CPUC approved substantial rate increases of over 40 percent, effective May 2001, for customers of two of the State's major investor-owned utilities; most of the increase is marked for reimbursement to the State (DWR) for the power it is purchasing for those customers. Low income customers are exempt from the increases. The portion of rates that the two utilities retain is still effectively under the rate freeze. The CPUC has not ruled out that more rate increases may be necessary in the future, since the accumulated debt of over $13 billion the two utilities face has not been resolved.

1/01: The CPUC released the audits of Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric which were required in the recent CPUC decision to allow temporary one cent rate increases for the two utilities.

1/01: The FERC issued, on January 29, a compliance order to the Cal PX seeking to enforce the December 15 order provision that ensured sellers into the PX market who bid in excess of $150/MWh only receive their actual bids, rather than the highest bid price. In response, the Cal PX has suspended its day-ahead and day-of market operations, as of January 31, 2001. The Cal PX has filed an emergency motion with the court requesting a stay of the December 15th order. Earlier in January, Cal PX announced it is taking steps to downsize its operations by 15 percent. Southern California Edison and PG&E were suspended from trading on the PX said they defaulted under the agreed upon tarriff and rate schedule.

1/01: The CPUC issued an interim order that provides rate relief for Southern California Edison and PG&E. Retail rates are increased by one cent per kWh for all rate classes. This means a 7 to 15 percent increase, whereas the utilities had requested 26 and 30 percent increases. The CPUC will request an independent audit of the two utilities to determine the need for the rate increases, which are subject to refund provisions if not found to be just and reasonable costs.

1/01: Southern California Edison won a major component of its lawsuit against the CPUC. The court upheld the utility's right to recover just and reasonable costs for serving its customers as required by law. Southern Cal and PG&E have experienced increasing losses, totaling $12 billion by January 2001, due to the esculating wholesale prices at the PX and the inability to collect adequate revenues to recover these costs of procuring power because retail rates are frozen at a much lower rate. A trail is scheduled to determine that the costs were just and reasonable.

1/01: The CPUC suspended penalties for interruptible rate schedule customers who fail to curtail power usage under emergency conditions. Due to the unexpected extent of curtailment requests in recent months, especially January 2001, there was determined to be a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare due to the inability of customers who participate in the interruptible programs, particularly the two petroleum pipeline companies, to continue operations, or face severe monetary penalites for operating during the energy emergency situations. The result created a shortage of and corresponding price increases for gasoline and diesel in California. The pipelines will be allowed to operate for 7 consecutive days to bring supplies back up to normal levels, and the CPUC expressed its hope that customers on interruptible schedules would continue to curtail power useage as much as possible in the absence of penalties. The CPUC is planning on reassessing the interruptible programs in the State and is planning to issue a report addressing these issues.

12/00: In its December 15 Order Directing Remedies to the California Wholesale Markets, the FERC ended the mandatory PX "buy/sell" requirement, thus allowing utilities to sell their own power directly to retail customers and enter into long-term bilateral contracts for purchasing power. The PX rate schedule will end on April 30, 2001. Power provided by the spot market should decrease to about 5 percent of theload. To ensure that the real-time markets are just and reasonable, the Order provides for appropriate real-time market monitoring and price mitigation for ISO and PX spot markets. In order to encourage less reliance on the real-time, or spot, market, the FERC imposed a $150 soft cap on wholesale prices. Bids above the $150 cap will not set the market clearing price, and their costs must be verified. Additionally, the Order requires the current stakeholder board at the ISO be replaced with a non-stakeholder board. Meanwhile, decision making and operating control has been turned over to the management of the ISO, retaining the current board in an advisory position until the new board is seated in April. For a listing of FERC orders addressing the energy situation in California see the FERC Bulk Power Markets web page.

10/00: San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) received approval from the CPUC to negotiate long-term power contracts. SDG&E will now be able to hedge electricity prices in an effort to protect against volatile price spikes like the ones that occurred this past summer. Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) were recently granted approval to negotiate long-term contracts.

8/00: At an emergency CPUC meeting called by Governor Davis, the CPUC approved a rate stabilization plan for SDG&E customers on August 21. The CPUC rejected a price freeze, saying it was unclear who would have to pay the difference in wholesale energy costs. The plan, which is retroactive to June 1, 2000, states that consumers who use 500 kWh or less per month will pay no more than $68/month for electricity through the end of January 2001. The rates for those customers will then increase to $75/month through the end of December 2001. Any additional power consumed beyond 500 kWh would be charged at market-based rates. Caps were also outlined for small commercial customers.

8/00: The CPUC on August 3 ruled in favor of a petition by utilities PG&E and Southern California Edison (SCE) to enter into bilateral agreements with generators at set prices to shield the utilities and consumers from volatile price spikes. SCE and PG&E will be allowed to contact third-party suppliers via the Cal PX to negotiate contracts to buy power at set rates for up to five years. The five-year agreements will serve to hedge against price spikes during periods of high demand and low reserves.

8/00: On August 2, the president of the CPUC and the chairman of California's Electricity Oversight Board (EOB) released a report that addressed blackouts in the PG&E service territory in early June 2000 and the volitile wholesale market prices that are affecting retail rates to SDG&E consumers. The report sited California's high demand and limited generating capacity as the main reasons for the blackout. Governor Davis responded to the report by ordering the California Attorney General to form a task force to investigate California's wholesale market.

7/00: San Diego Gas & Electric and the California PX recently proposed a solution to the CPUC for alleviating the price volitility experienced by SDG&E customers this summer. The market-based bidding program proposed to the CPUC will allow SDG&E to bid for power within the CalPX for longer periods into the future using the existing Block Forward Market products. This will enable the company to purchase power at lower prices during periods of high demand, avoiding the price spikes associated with summer heat and increasing demand such as experienced in Southern California this spring and summer. Approval has been requested at the August 3 meeting of the CPUC.

10/99: The CPUC issued its opinion on distributed generation. Addressed were concerns with reliability, safety, and non-discrimination in distributed generation interconnections with the utilities. Issues also included developing definitions for distributed generation, defining the role of the distribution company, environmental impacts, and ownership and control issues with distributed generation.

6/99: The CPUC approved San Diego Gas & Electric's proposal to end its rate freeze on July 1, 1999. The end of the transition period for SDG&E comes two and a half years early, as SDG&E sold their power plants substantially above book value and thus completed recovery of stranded costs.

6/99: The CPUC began public hearings on opening distribution services to competition. The formal opening of the PUC proceeding in December 1998 resulted in responses from numerous stakeholders including utilities, industrial and agricultural groups, cogenerators, and marketers. The process of opening distribution services to competition is likely to prove as complex as the opening of generation services has, with some suggesting that waiting until the transition period for moving generation to competition is completed before attempting to open distribution to competition.

4/98: The CPUC issued the final order officially opening the electric industry market to competition as of March 31, 1998 for all consumers in investor-owned utilities' service territories. Control of 70 percent of the State's transmission lines was transferred to the California ISO.

3/98: The CPUC issued regulations to protect consumers from fraud and market abuses. To operate in the State, competitive suppliers must provide clear information on price, service, and generation sources; use a standard bill format; provide proof of technical, operational, and financial capability; and post a $25,000 bond.

12/97: The CPUC delayed the starting date for retail competition to March 31, 1998, due to additional time needed to test software at the ISO and PX.

12/95: The CPUC issued its final order calling for the restructuring the electric power industry and allowing consumers direct access to competitive suppliers of electric power. Originally, the PUC plan was to phase in consumer direct access, but later was amended to allow retail access for all consumers simultaneously, beginning January 1, 1998.

1994: The CPUC issued the "blue book" which initiated a study of electric power industry restructuring in California.

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