As the California Public Utilities Commission examines how utilities should use money they receive from auctioning free carbon emissions credits under the state’s planned cap-and-trade program, a Southern California Edison proposal gained support last week. In May 5 filings with the commission, Marin Energy Authority and the Direct Access Customer Coalition backed the utility’s proposal to use revenues from selling the emissions credits solely “to provide customer bill relief.” Under Edison’s proposal, outlined in a filing last month, utilities would use at least some of the proceeds to reduce their power distribution charges. This would benefit not only their direct customers, but also businesses and other entities that have direct access to power producers who send their electricity to those businesses over utility lines. Community choice aggregators--like the Marin Energy Authority--are similar to direct access customers in that they buy power directly from producers and pay utilities only for distribution services. Using the money in this manner would “ensure equal treatment of retail customers,” wrote Direct Access Customer Coalition attorney Sue Mara. Marin Energy Authority regulatory and legal counsel Elizabeth Rasmussen wrote that Edison’s “proposal efficiently creates a level playing field between investor owned utilities and load serving entities,” including community choice aggregators. * * * * * California metropolitan planning organizations are busy developing blueprints to meet their greenhouse gas reduction targets under SB 375. The 2008 law requires the organizations to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through regional transportation and land-use plans. Strategies are expected to include infill development instead of sprawl, improved jobs-housing balance, and public transit-oriented development, according to Linda Wheaton, California Department of Housing & Community Development assistant director of local government affairs. For utilities, the challenge under SB 375 is to enhance their systems to supply power and gas to what Wheaton anticipates will be denser development areas within existing service territories in place of expanding the reach of distribution systems. A May 9 California Air Resources Board update on implementation of the law shows that the San Diego Association of Governments may be the first regional planning authority to develop a plan under SB 375, with adoption anticipated in October. The Southern California Association of Governments is due to adopt a plan later in the fall and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments by spring of 2012. The Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s plan is due in 2013 and the San Joaquin Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization’s in 2014.