The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has voted unanimously to strengthen a key clean energy policy in California called the ‘loading order,’ which sets a priority list for electricity sources.
California's utilities must first employ energy efficiency and conservation to meet customer demand, then energy from renewable sources. Only after all those supplies are exhausted may the utilities purchase power from fossil fuel plants.
The CPUC already requires the state's three investor-owned utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison – to obtain certain minimum amounts of electricity through energy efficiency, demand response resources and renewables.
But before the latest CPUC decision, the energy companies ignored the loading order once they had met these other state-required targets, according to public-interest law firm EarthJustice. The CPUC has ordered a halt to that practice.
‘While hitting a target for energy efficiency or demand response may satisfy other obligations of the utility, that does not constitute a ceiling on those resources for purposes of procurement,’ the commission wrote in its decision.
This clarification of the loading order was made as part of the CPUC's Long Term Procurement Plan (Rulemaking 10-05-006). This proposed decision as adopted is available here.