California Regulators Halt SDG&E Plan to Lobby Against Community Aggregation

San Diego Gas & Electric’s plan to lobby (Resolution E-4874) against community choice aggregation  was approved last August, but now has been suspended because, the state Public Utilities Commission said in a letter on December 27,  that it does not comply with the regulators’ ordering directions.

“[SDG&E’s] Advice Letter 3008E is non-compliant with Resolution E-4874 and is, therefore, rejected,” the commission said in its letter, according to a January 3 report by KPBS Public Broadcasting.

The chief problem? Under state law, the utility is prohibited from lobbying or marketing on community choice unless it forms an independent district that is funded by shareholders; not ratepayers. The CPUC is tasked with ensuring that the utility’s independent marketing district is truly separate from SDG&E. The commission said SDG&E needed to provide updates on some of its plans for how the independent district would be run, according to the local television station – and that those updates do not have enough information to show the district is independent enough.

The letter does not say what will happen next for SDG&E’s independent district and representatives from the CPUC had no immediate comment.

Allison Torres, a spokesperson for SDG&E, told KPBS that the utility would provide more information to the CPUC this month. “While SDG&E believes the advice letter and compliance plan provided enough detail, the commission is asking for more information,” she wrote in an email to the station. “We plan to file an advice letter in January.”

For example, SDG&E has to “conduct training for all its employees and agents, including contractors and consultants” to ensure they follow state laws about marketing and lobbying on community choice, the CPUC wrote. While the utility trained its employees, it hasn’t demonstrated it will train contractors and consultants, according to the CPUC’s letter.

Environmental advocates also are questioning SDG&E’s goals, arguing that industry opposition could derail efforts to more aggressively pursue greater use of renewable energy, according to a same-day report by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“SDG&E is once again aiming to make it harder for San Diegans to have a say in how their homes, businesses and schools are powered,” said Evan Gillespie, director of Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign, which focuses on boosting adoption of renewable energy. “This is a sly ploy to combat overwhelming public support for more clean energy and to block San Diego’s path toward its 100 percent clean energy goal.”

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