Two normally disparate power entities—Southern California Edison, an investor-owned utility, and Sonoma Clean Power, a community choice aggregator—on June 21 voiced a shared concern: upcoming and uncertain departing loads.
SCE is worried about losing load to cities, counties and governmental aggregations, some of which have requested load data or have stated their intention to develop CCAs.
Possible load departures could have a significant impact on SCE’s power procurement, while slowing its progress toward meeting its renewable-energy goals, the IOU said in its draft 2019 renewables portfolio standard procurement plan filed to the California Public Utilities Commission.
However, and in contrast to SCE’s stated concerns, some cities this year have actually switched back to the IOU’s electricity service, moving away from the other provider in the area—Clean Power Alliance, a CCA.
For example, the Ventura City Council on June 24 said it would move its largest customer accounts from Clean Power Alliance back to SCE, due to SCE peak-pricing changes that happened in March.
Prior to March, Ventura paid less for electricity on its larger accounts, such as for the city’s streetlights, but it now pays more because SCE changed its peak-pricing time range from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Power rates are therefore now at their highest later at night, when the streetlights are on (see story at ).
“The streetlights [previously] got allocated very little in the way of cost,” SCE Vice President Colin Cushnie said. “Now they’re paying the costs associated with consuming the cost of electricity at that time.”
In Sonoma Clean Power’s RPS plan, the CCA said it lost a significant portion of its high-usage customers last year. High-usage customers, or “super-users,” are those that use 7 to 300 times more electricity than average residential customers in the CCA’s area. These customers made up less than 1 percent of SCP’s total residential load in 2018, but their demand accounted for more than 10 percent of the total load.
SCP previously had about 1,500 super-users, each using at least 3,500 kWh per month, resulting in bills of up to $20,000. When these customers departed, SCP lost $10 million in revenue.
Super-users are typically mobile home parks or residences that appear to be using electricity in atypical ways, such as for growing cannabis, SCP said in the document. California opened its legal commercial cannabis market in 2018, which might have caused some residential growers in SCP’s area to close their businesses and open somewhere else. Furthermore, Sonoma County banned cultivation on most properties of less than 10 acres.
SCP is also uncertain about a few upcoming renewable-energy and storage contracts. The CCA is developing contracts for 80 MW of wind power, 50 MW of solar and 5 MW of storage, but said these contracts carry a risk of being either delayed or canceled. However, SCP said the risk of these contracts failing is low.
“Given the permitting, interconnection and development process for all California projects, there is always some risk that a project does not get developed. SCP considers this a low risk for these particular projects,” SCP told California Energy Markets. “However, it is not 100 percent risk-free, and our response to the commission simply stated that obvious fact.”
When asked if Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy could affect these renewables contracts, SCP said it does not believe so.