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Senior Consultant Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

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  • Oct 19, 2020

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This post will look at the public utilities in California in two ways: by the numbers and by their character, and more specifically what differentiates them from the big three IOUs.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Oct 19, 2020

John, not sure why you consider CCAs "public power". Just because they're non-profit organizations doesn't mean their executives aren't well-paid, or that they're accountable to the public (they aren't - they're entirely unregulated).

In essence they're middlemen who promise to offer "procurement" services but in practice offer nothing but added expense.

Contact a CCA, and ask to see their books. Not only won't they show you, they're permitted by California state law not to show you. A scam, just like the "green" energy sources of energy they're peddling.

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Oct 20, 2020

Hi Bob:

Yes, I understand what they are very well. 

I live in Livermore. They tried to default me into our local CCA, and I declined. This was because I have worked with PG&E for several decades, understand their tariffs, and have selected the best tariff for my household. No such choice with our local CCA. 


A month or two after I opted out of the CCA, a friend indicated that she opted out because her electric bill actually went up under the same CCA.


Also some CCAs have had difficulty meeting their resource adequacy requirements.


I guess the bureaucrats that are running these organizations are discovering what I've known for years - the electric utility business is hard.


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Bob Meinetz on Oct 21, 2020

Sorry to hear it John - you're not alone. I know many in the Bay area who were (or are) in the same boat. I think CCAs will end up being regulated, but it certainly won't make electricity cost less. Although the California Public Utility Commission has 700+ employees, it's one of the most understaffed of state agencies, and there's no possible way they could take on CCAs tomorrow, or next week, or anytime soon.

I think most of the people at CPUC are conscientious and qualified - just like most of the employees at CCAs. But most don't even know specifically from where and when their power is bought, and from what sources. When there are precious few people who understand how wholesale power markets work, and how much money is to be made, it's a recipe for fraud.

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John Benson on Oct 21, 2020

Hi Bob:

I worked with the CPUC and the CEC for a number of years as detailed in section 3 of this post, and yes, I agree, these are dedicated, hardworking individuals. If you want the full story about how we bootstrapped the AMI industry, go through the link in section 3 (repeated below) to the AMI series, then go back to part 1, and read (at least) part 1 and part 2.

The only problem is that, once California had developed the first really advanced AMI systems, many regulatory agencies from other states/countries poached many of the CEC/CPUC employees that guided up through this process. The good news is they spread these technologies wide and far.


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John Benson on Oct 21, 2020

One other thing: I expect you have already seen the latest news on NuScale and UAMPS, but the report linked below is the best report I've seen on this.


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