2013 ORA ANNUAL REPORT: ENERGY

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Customer Rates  

Statewide

Residential Rate Redesign

In 2013, ORA worked with other stakeholders to develop a policy framework that will allow the CPUC to consider residential rate designs that utilize ratepayers’ significant investment in smart meters to encourage conservation and give customers the tools they need to adjust usage to reduce energy bills.

 

Southern California Edison Company (Edison)

2015 General Rate Case 

ORA protested Edison’s request to raise its 2015-2017 rates by a total of $841 million urging the CPUC to give the request due consideration, given the significant increase of the request. 

 

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E)

2014 General Rate Case

ORA scrutinized PG&E’s request to increase customer rates by $5 billion from 2014 through 2016 and recommended that the CPUC should reduce PG&E’s current revenue requirement authorization by $162 million and allow increases of no more than 2.6% in the following two years.  

2014 Rate Design

ORA proposed modifications to PG&E’s 2014 Rate Design allocation that would decrease residential and small commercial class revenue responsibilities by $140 million and $95 million, respectively.

Economic Development Rates

ORA supported Economic Development Rates for PG&E, but finds the CPUC’s 2013 Decision to allow a 30% enhanced discount creates too much risk for nonparticipating customers. ORA had recommended an average discount rate of 22% over the 5 years, which would achieve the program’s objectives, follow established CPUC rules, and protect customers. 

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)

2012 General Rate Case

ORA’s litigation of SDG&E’s request to increase customer rates by $1.8 billion for 2012-2015 resulted in the CPUC’s May 2013 decision to reduce the utility’s revenue request by $116 million.

 

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas)

2012 General Rate Case

ORA’s litigation of SoCalGas’ request to increase customer rates by $2 billion for 2012-2015 resulted in the CPUC’s May 2013 decision to reduce the utility’s revenue request by $154 million.

 

Southwest Gas

2014 General Rate Case

ORA recommends over $10 million in reductions compared with Southwest Gas’s request for $94.7 million due to over-estimates in its operating expenses, rate of return, and capital expenditures.

 

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NUCLEAR

SONGS Closure

ORA supports the CPUC’s proposed ramp down of SONGS’ expenditures and an initial customer refund of $94 million given that customers have continue to pay upwards of $64 million per month for a power plant that has not provided service since January 2012.

 

 

PROCUREMENT

Energy Storage

 ORA supports the development of Energy Storage as an emerging procurement technology to be used in a way that is targeted to California’s needs, cost-effective, and benefits the ratepayers that fund it.  

Long Term Procurement Plan (LTPP)

ORA advocated that the CPUC should wait for the CAISO’s Transmission Planning Process (TPP) before authorizing Edison and SDG&E to procure additional local capacity resources to replace power due to SONGS closure in order to prevent over-procurement, and urges the CPUC to replace SONGS with preferred resources such as renewables and demand-side strategies.

 

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CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

Alternative Fueled Vehicles

ORA supports the CPUC’s efforts to facilitate the integration of Alternative-Fueled Vehicles in California in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, if ratepayer subsidies are used to benefit all customers through such strategies as charging cars off-peak to place downward pressure on all rates. 

Energy Efficiency

Finance Programs

ORA supports leveraging private capital through financing programs to make expensive energy efficiency strategies more accessible to customers, and the CPUC adopted key ORA recommendations to protect ratepayers and assign program administration to an experienced state agency.

 Utility Shareholder Incentive Mechanism

ORA recommended critical modifications to the CPUC’s Energy Efficiency incentive mechanism so that it would be based solely on verified energy savings, rather than customers paying hundreds of millions of dollars in utility shareholder bonuses for merely utility estimates. 

 

RENEWABLES

Bioenergy

ORA supports a bioenergy feed-in tariff that will promote market competition which can lower the cost of procuring bioenergy. 

 

Feed-in Tariff (FiT)

ORA successfully advocated limiting the price adjustment for the FiT, set by the Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (Re-MAT) program, to no more than $12 per two-month period for renewable projects of 3 MW or less, potentially saving ratepayers tens of millions of dollars.

 

Renewable Portfolio Standard - RPS

ORA supports California’s aggressive Renewables goals and supported improvements to RPS through cost containment and updated confidentiality rules that will protect ratepayers’ investment and ensure program success in achieving the state’s goals. 

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Research & Development

Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC)

ORA supports ratepayers’ investment in Research & Development where benefits can be quantified, and in 2013 ORA achieved strong ratepayer protections on the EPIC program to ensure customers see a return on their investment.

Transmission

Coolwater - Lugo

ORA opposes Edison’s Coolwater-Lugo project because its $1 billion price tag is excessive and it has not yet been approved by the CAISO, and if found to be unneeded could result in a waste of ratepayers’ investment.

Embarcadero-Potrero Project

ORA finds that PG&E’s proposed $171 million Embarcadero-Potrero transmission project is needed to enhance the reliability of downtown San Francisco because of the potential for large economic losses due to outages caused by a large magnitude earthquake or other types of outages.

SDG&E CPCN South Orange County Reliability Enhancement Project

ORA argued that SDG&E’s $600 million proposed transmission project does not adequately demonstrate ratepayer benefits or that it meets reliability requirements.

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Natural Gas

Pipeline Safety

 San Bruno Investigation

ORA advocated to impose on PG&E a $2.5 billion penalty for its violations of safety laws and responsibility for the 2010 San Bruno explosion that killed 8 people. The fine should be large enough to have a deterrent effect and the CPUC should impose remedies to ensure public safety, including the appointment of Independent Monitor to ensure that PG&E properly performs and completes Pipeline Safety work. 

Mobile Home Park Infrastructure Replacement Project

ORA is concerned with issues of natural gas pipeline safety for mobile home park residents, and supports a 3-year pilot program to replace high risk gas infrastructure with a 50/50 cost sharing between ratepayers and mobile home park owners because ratepayers have already funded infrastructure replacement through the master meter discount.

 

 

Customer Rates

Biomethane Pipeline Injection

ORA supports the goal of AB 1900 to encourage the production of Biomethane as a renewable resource to aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, however, ratepayers should not subsidize Biomethane by favoring certain gas producers over others, as a level playing field which will spur competition and bring down the cost making it a more viable resource.

ORA opposed funding of SoCalGas’ proposal to enter the gas compression market due to its unfair advantage as a monopoly utility entering competitive market, however ORA achieved ratepayer protections in the CPUC’s decision approving the project, including prohibition on ratepayers bearing any costs or risks associated with the service and that SoCalGas must submit regular reports with the CPUC on the status of competition in the gas compression market.

 SoCalGas Compression Project 

ORA opposed funding of SoCalGas’ proposal to enter the gas compression market due to its unfair advantage as a monopoly utility entering competitive market, however ORA achieved ratepayer protections in the CPUC’s decision approving the project, including prohibition on ratepayers bearing any costs or risks associated with the service and that SoCalGas must submit regular reports with the CPUC on the status of competition in the gas compression market.

 

 

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