A recent California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision could have long-term impacts on the ability of local nonprofit energy competitors of PG&E to succeed.
That's according to several local energy programs, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, San Jose Clean Energy, East Bay Community Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power, which have all come out against a June 11 decision by the CPUC that designates PG&E and Southern California Edison as "central buyers" responsible for ensuring that there are enough energy resources to provide electricity within the state, according to a press statement from Peninsula Clean Energy.
The decision could undermine community choice energy programs – nonprofits that pool a region's energy demand to bargain for environmentally cleaner electricity than PG&E provides, they say.
"The CPUC's action undermines our ability to make long-term planning decisions, while undercutting incentives to speed up clean energy innovation," leaders at the opposing energy programs said in a joint statement. "It represents a lost opportunity to support local clean energy investments being made today."
Representatives of the community choice energy programs worry that if PG&E is the only authorized buyer in Northern California, then it'll favor larger energy production facilities rather ones that may be smaller and more local, according to Joe Wiedman, director of regulatory and legislative affairs at Peninsula Clean Energy.
"Our concern is that we want to go out and buy more renewables," he said. "Our communities formed (Peninsula Clean Energy) to say we want to do more renewables faster than the state. To do that, we have to invest in building local resources all over."
But if PCE does that, and then PG&E says it won't buy energy from the new resources that PCE has invested in, "we don't get to see all the benefit of that investment," Wiedman said. "We still have to pay PG&E for what it did buy."
In short, "This change in direction leaves value on the table that threatens to raise customer costs," the joint statement said.