CPUC Gives Smart Meters a Couple of Nudges

By Published On: July 8, 2005

A California Public Utilities Commission member ordered San Diego Gas & Electric to show that its plan to install advanced meters at customer sites has “sufficient benefits” to ratepayers—even if 100 percent of the costs are not covered by savings. In a July 1 memo to scope the parameters of hearings on advanced meters during the coming year, Dian Grueneich also said that the technology the utility chooses will be up for debate, as will be scenarios for estimating how much energy customers may conserve in response to the meters. Finally, the hearings will cover the ability to integrate new meter technologies with the utility’s other systems, such as billing, customer service, and outage management. All of these issues must be addressed “for us to preapprove the investment of ratepayer funds for SDG&E’s proposed full deployment,” stated Grueneich. Pacific Gas & Electric’s advanced metering plan also moved forward when the commission approved on June 30 a new accounting method to record predeployment costs. PG&E expects to spend more than $49 million leading up to the meters’ installation. Actual deployment is expected to cost $1 billion over four to five years. The commission approved the accounting method subject to determining “whether utility selected technology meets functionality criteria.” The commission noted that it also could retroactively disallow expenditures if it finds the utility has misspent ratepayer funds. In advance of a decision on functionality, PG&E’s expenditures on advanced metering “are at shareholder risk.” Southern California Edison won approval for six new renewable power contracts on June 30. However, the commission will allow the utility to keep the terms of the contracts secret. The contracts—with Liberty Biofuels Power, Sierra Biomass, Green Borders Geothermal, Mountain View Power Partners, Coram Energy, and Aero Energy (the latter three for wind power)—have an initial 141 MW capacity with expansion up to 427 MW, according to Edison. The criteria used by the utility to evaluate the projects also will remain secret. The commission did note, however, that they fit with regulators’ “least-cost, best-fit” strategy. The particulars of how each utility determines least-cost, best-fit currently are under scrutiny at the California Energy Commission The CPUC agreed to grant Edison all the potential “green tag” credits for the projects—assuming that a renewables credit trading program will be developed. Up for consideration at the commission’s next meeting, on July 21, are more renewables contracts for Edison and PG&E. Pending for Edison are four wind repowers that would increase production by 25 GWh. Three are in the Tehachapi area—CTV, Windland, and Coran. Another, Karen Windfarm, is in San Gorgonio. The repowers would count for additional renewables in the utility’s portfolio and allow the qualifying facilities to receive a federal production tax credit. The CPUC is keeping the cost of the repowers secret. PG&E has three new wind contracts up for approval: the 32.5 MW Montezuma in Solano, the 15 MW Buena Vista in Altamont Pass, and the 20 MW Pacific Renewable in Lompoc. Together they are expected to deliver 490 GWh/year.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now