CEC to Decide Who Gets to Exit Grid Freely

By Published On: December 14, 2003

Just who can avoid paying an exit fee for leaving the grid after installing a distributed-generation project will be decided by the California Energy Commission, even though the California Public Utilities Commission determined how much distributed generation can fire up without having to pay a departure fee. On October 22, the energy commission unanimously adopted regulations that set parameters for energy users that leave a utility system. The CPUC created a 3,000 MW departing-load exemption last April, which was based on Department of Water Resources calculations. The CEC was given the job of developing rules for determining eligibility and tracking the exempted megawatts. ?A lot of people think that getting us to intrude into PUC [turf] is like holding a bone in front of a hungry dog,? said commissioner John Geesman. ?The energy commission will not supplant PUC authority on this matter,? he added. In developing the exit fee exemption rules, the CEC tried to balance the desires of the utilities to have more information to ensure that exempted distributed-generation projects go on line with project developers? desire to use the fee waivers to promote their projects, said Scott Tomashefsky, commission adviser. The CEC rules are expected to be finalized by the secretary of state by the end of January. Southern California Edison unsuccessfully urged the energy commission at its meeting to combine its distributed-generation exemption fee rules with its interconnection rule process (Rule 21) appeals. ?Customers on the ground will see two regulatory systems,? said Manuel Alvarez, Edison?s director of regulatory affairs. It creates ?a complexity in the system that is probably not necessary.? However, the energy commission cannot exempt distributed generators from a fee until a fee rule is established. The CPUC must still pass a tariff that will permit investor-owned utilities to collect departing load fees and allow exemptions. Exit fees are aimed at protecting remaining ratepayers by spreading around the high costs the state and utilities incurred in continuing to provide service during the energy crisis and the unstable market left in its wake.

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