The extent of the California Public Utilities Commission's regulation of community-choice aggregators and associated ground rules may be largely resolved at the commission's December 15 meeting. The CPUC is scheduled to vote on the jurisdictional issue, as well as on rules and costs associated with moving utility customers' service to cities and counties that plan to provide electricity to their constituents. Over the utilities' objections, the CPUC's authority over community-choice aggregators would be "narrowly circumscribed" under the proposed ruling on phase 2 of community aggregation. Investor-owned utilities, which will continue to provide distribution and billing for cities and counties that become energy providers, insisted that their competitors be as regulated as they are. The author of the proposed decision, administrative law judge Kim Malcolm, however, pointed out that the statute creating community-choice aggregation, AB 117, did not give the commission the power sought by utilities. She limited the proposed decision to protecting utility customers and services. She also noted - to the pleasure of San Francisco and other cities seeking to become aggregators, which sought to limit the CPUC's authority - that cities and counties are sufficiently governed by open-meeting laws and other state and federal laws protecting consumers. Another major issue in the community-aggregation decision is the exit fee. It is largely determined by how much of and for how long utility costs are shifted to community aggregators. Part and parcel of that issue is the timing of when Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, or San Diego Gas & Electric ceases buying power for those who switch service. Malcolm proposed that community aggregators be required to make a binding commitment to buy power for local customers. In addition, the entities must work cooperatively to develop departing-load forecasts to curtail the possibility of a utility buying too much power, creating stranded assets. Community aggregators must meet the state's requirement of a 15-17 percent cushion of supply reserve under the resource-adequacy rules and the state renewables portfolio standard, which mandates that 20 percent of a utility's supply come from green power. "San Francisco does intend to meet the 20 percent rule, and it was a main goal of the program," said Joe Como, San Francisco assistant counsel. However, meeting the renewables portfolio standard by the optional early date of 2010 "could be a potential problem," he added. Malcolm would require the affected cities and local entities to pay for part of utilities' renewable supplies bought to meet the state's 20 percent RPS. If the CPUC were to adopt Malcolm's tentative ruling, authority over community aggregators' implementation plans would be limited to ensuring that they comply with consumer protection rules and procedures. It would also slap utilities that fail to work in good faith with aggregators with "substantial penalties." The judge's tentative ruling also cuts the billing rate that PG&E would charge San Francisco from $2 to $0.44 a bill to be in line with the other utilities.