Today the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission (CEC) announced that they will hold a joint forum on May 19, 2017 to discuss the future of retail electricity in California.

According to the announcement, by around 2025, over 80% of all electricity customers of the state’s three main investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will be receiving some form of alternative electricity service. Primarily, this refers to customers participating in a Community Choice Aggregation program, installing rooftop solar, participating in Direct Access, or joining a community solar project. The retail policy landscape is changing organically as a result of declining prices for solar, energy storage, and other dynamics in the marketplace, rather than by the conscious choice of policymakers, according to the announcement.

As a result, the forum is intended to allow policymakers to grapple with some of the implications of these changes. The agenda will address a wide range of issues, including:

  • Principles to guide future regulatory and legislative reforms;
  • The current state of customer choice programs in California;
  • The IOUs’ “vision for the evolution of retail electricity choice and their role in its provision”; and
  • What customers want and consumer protection issues.

It will be particularly interesting to hear how the IOUs see their future role in a market where more than 80% of customers receive some form of retail electricity service from an outside provider. In point of fact, the IOUs have been discussing this future for many years. However, framing these changes as a near-term necessity that is being driven by outside forces seems to lend more immediacy to the discussion planned here. Furthermore, attendance is expected from the CPUC, CEC and Legislature, signaling that these issues have the attention of key decision-makers.

The event will be webcast. You can access the webcast here.

If you wish to attend in person, you are encouraged to register in advance due to high interest and limited space. Here is a link to RSVP.