Two court rulings allowing the California Energy Commission to trump utilities\u2019 secrecy concerns affects a controversial proceeding at the CEC\u2019s sister agency involving data confidentiality parameters. Utilities have not decided whether to take their case to shield data from the public to a higher court. In a February 14 ruling, a Sacramento superior court rejected attempts by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric to keep aggregated customer data submitted to the Energy Commission hidden from the public. The same court on the same day also rejected Edison\u2019s claims that the Energy Commission\u2019s release of its annual peak-demand data would put it at a competitive disadvantage and harm ratepayers. The utilities insisted that the CEC failed to apply the more protective standard for trade secrets when it concluded it could release the data. \u201cThe court ruled in favor of the commission on all significant issues,\u201d said Claudia Chandler, CEC spokesperson. Utilities are required to submit information on electricity demand to the Energy Commission for the agency\u2019s load forecasting. On February 22, utilities, consumer advocates, the CEC, and independent generators filed briefs at the California Public Utilities Commission, insisting that regulators should either expand or restrict public access to data on which procurement decisions are based. As with the court ruling a week earlier, much of the debate centers on the definition of, and standard applied to, \u201dtrade secrets.\u201d Those in favor of more openness\u2014independent power producers and large power users\u2014pointed to the Sacramento court decisions to bolster their argument. Utilities and some consumer advocates insisted that the rulings were not applicable to the CPUC proceeding (see sidebar). \u201cSDG&E finds the ruling to be flawed and incorrect as a matter of law and policy, but does not regard it as precedential for how SDG&E-sensitive procurement data should be treated, particularly by the CPUC,\u201d stated Denise King, utility spokesperson. SDG&E and Edison said they had not decided whether to appeal to a higher court. PG&E did not respond to requests for comment by press time. Some say an appeal by one or more of the utilities is likely. The three investor-owned utilities argued before the court that their bundled customer annual and quarterly capacity data should not be released because they are trade secrets. They fear that their competitors will use the information to raise the cost of purchased power. PG&E and Edison also contended that their customer quarterly energy data should be off limits to the public as well. In addition, PG&E and SDG&E wanted to shield from public scrutiny their planning quarterly capacity data. Superior court judge Gail Ohanesian rejected the trio\u2019s assertions that the CEC applied the incorrect legal test when concluding that it had the authority to release the data at issue. The commission may release confidential data \u201cif the information has been masked or aggregated to the point necessary to protect confidentiality,\u201d she held. The judge further dismissed the argument that the CEC failed to consider the \u201cpotential economic value\u201d of the data. Utilities\u2019 contention that Energy Commission witnesses provided flawed evidence also failed. The second Sacramento Superior Court ruling involving Edison\u2019s annual peak-demand data held that publicly releasing the information would not harm the utility. \u201cDisclosure of the annual electricity demand data does not provide economic value to entities buying energy from or selling energy to SCE,\u201d it concluded. The dispute began when the three utilities urged the CEC to keep secret what they consider market-sensitive data to avoid giving generators a leg up in contract negotiations. The commission\u2019s executive director declined the request and notified the trio that the aggregate data would be made public. The utilities appealed the matter to the full Energy Commission, which upheld the executive director\u2019s decision. Edison filed suit, then later joined in a lawsuit filed by PG&E and SDG&E in mid-October. The CEC noted that vast amounts of the utility information at issue are already public. It added that confidentiality claims bog down the planning process. The commission has pushed for a \u201crobust public policy to guide procurement of resources by the investor-owned utilities.\u201d The utilities have until mid-April to appeal.