The California Public Utilities Commission on July 8 approved a plan meant to keep a lid on direct-access growth. The plan sets a ?trigger? for an alert should direct access reach 15 percent. Among other things, direct-access customers will need to file an affidavit that their load doesn?t exceed contractual levels, but the cutoff point for the reporting requirement still must be determined. While direct-access levels have remained static, Southern California Edison has made a fuss over any hint of increased load departures. The utility pressed for tightened parameters, saying it is difficult to tell the difference between normal load fluctuations and new load. The commission denied Edison?s petition to modify earlier decisions but gave the go-ahead for the rules. Since direct-access load has been stable, Edison?s concerns about rampant growth amount to a ?tempest in a teapot,? asserted Bill Booth, attorney representing the California Large Energy Consumers Association. The CPUC?s direct-access plan calls for the overall level of load to not exceed amounts specified in contracts. In Booth?s view, the bigger issue is whether more customers will leave bundled service if the Legislature reopens direct access, which was suspended in 2001. Migration from bundled service could also occur through community-choice aggregation, which allows local governments to purchase electricity for customers in their jurisdictions. As of the end of January, customers relying on direct access to nonutility providers amounted to 13.2 percent, down from post?energy crisis levels of 14 percent, according to the Energy Division. In its long-term procurement plan, Pacific Gas & Electric forecasts 4,000 MW of direct-access customers leaving its system by 2014.