POC Advocacy at the Public Utilities Commission
POC is currently involved in several proceedings at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), fighting to stop environmentally destructive projects, and to ensure that utilities do not pass on their unsound business decisions to ratepayers.
Aliso Canyon: In October 2015, an underground storage site owned and operated by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas) in Aliso Canyon sprung a massive methane leak, which sickened thousands of residents in the Porter Ranch area. 109,000 metric tons of methane leaked out over the course of four months before it was contained. POC has been advocating for the closure of the Aliso Canyon Storage facility for the last three years. The CPUC opened up a proceeding investigating whether it was feasible to close down Aliso Canyon without affecting natural gas supply in the Los Angeles region. With the agency dragging their feet on this investigation, POC has been advocating for the CPUC to commence their study, promote transparency, and ultimately close down the facility.
General Rates Case: The San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has proposed a 20 percent rate increase for 2019 in their General Rates Case (GRC) Application with the CPUC, and has proposed a 28 percent rate increase for electricity over the course of four years. As part of their GRC application, SDG&E is also seeking approval to purchase the Otay Mesa Energy Center (OMEC), a 680 megawatt power plant, which contributes to that rate increase if the costs of the purchase are passed onto ratepayers. POC has been advocating for the closure of OMEC for years. We are current intervening in the CPUC proceeding and challenging SFG&E’s proposed purchase of this fossil fuel power plant as unnecessary, expensive, and in contravention to new state legislative mandates which would require 100 percent renewables by 2045. POC has laid out information in briefings and evidentiary hearings for the CPUC showing why the OMEC purchase is a bad deal, and bad for the environment and ratepayers. The proceeding is ongoing, and the CPUC is predicted to make its decision on whether to approve SDG&E’s purchase of OMEC this Winter. Read more about OMEC here.
Long Term Procurement Planning-Integrated Resource Planning: POC is intervening in the utility procurement plans for 2019, to advocate for a safe, reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly procurement policy. Specifically, POC is seeking to ensure that utilities in California like SDG&E and Southern California Edison (SCE) abide by the legislative mandates of SB 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and to protect disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by dirty fossil fuel pollution. POC is heavily involved in this proceeding, submitting testimony, legal administrative comments and briefings at every step to provide critical information and advocacy to the CPUC.
Power Charge Indifference Adjustment: POC is challenging utilities’ proposal of the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), which is an exit fee charged to customers that choose another provider of electricity service through direct access or local community choice aggregation (CCA). In other words, because investor owned utilities are natural monopolies in California, the PCIA makes it harder for renewable or cleaner sources of energy to start up business, because the PCIA would increase costs for customers who wanted to go elsewhere. POC has been fighting the CPUC and utilities companies against this charge and advocating for the formation of CCAs in the San Diego region as a cleaner, more reliable source of energy. The CPUC recently approved the PCIA in October 2018, but POC is going to continue fighting the CPUC against this approval.
San Diego Gas Pipeline: POC intervened in a CPUC proceeding seeking to prevent SD&E from dodging required safety testing of a currently operating gas pipeline. The utility instead wanted CPUC approval to replace their existing 16-inch pipeline that runs along the Interstate 15, with a 36-inch pipeline, plowing through habitat for dozens of at-risk wildlife species in the process. The project was estimated to cost $639 million, to paid for by ratepayers. Thanks to POC’s intervention, the CPUC issued a a 130-page proposed decision outrightly denying the San Diego pipeline’s permit this past May! Read more here.
WEMA Fire Recovery: Ten years ago, the Witch, Guejito and Rice forest fires blazed through San Diego, burning over 198,000 acres and destroying over 1300 homes. The utilities’ power lines caused $379 million in damage costs that SDG&E tried to pass onto ratepayers in the form of increased utilities rates. POC has been fighting SDG&E’s attempts, and intervened in the CPUC proceeding in which SDG&E tried to recover their costs. Thanks to POC’s intervention, the CPUC ruled in 2017 that SDG&E did not reasonably manage and operate its facilities that caused the three fires, and denied cost recovery. However, SDG&E has appealed this denial to the 9th Circuit, and POC is going to continue to fight them every step of the way! Read more here.