Why You Need to Attend the WPA Energy Meeting March 18
“Clean energy” resources – including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, and renewable energy – what do they mean to your industry and ultimately, to your bottom line? More and more, today’s corporations look for ways to both mitigate their energy costs and curb their impact on the planet by exploring other means to power their businesses. Average industrial electric rates in California, traditionally higher than most other states’ industrial rates, continue to rise while growing concerns over climate change dominate California’s energy policy.
The state’s ideal energy resource would be safe, green, reliable and cheap. Renewable energy is generally safe and green, but not cheap or reliable. The California Public Utilities Commission reports that in 2012 and 2013, the three investor-owned utilities spent a combined $2.7 billion and $3.4 billion, respectively, on direct costs for renewable power. Utility capital investment costs in new transmission lines for renewable projects are forecast to reach $10.4 billion by 2020, and the intermittency of renewable resources drives significant integration costs. Similarly, in 2009, utility energy efficiency program budgets rose 42% over prior programs, to $3.1 billion for the 2009 -2011 program period, and energy efficiency budgets have stayed at roughly the same level (~$1 billion/year) ever since. Although California’s average industrial rates have increased significantly over the past few years, due to these and other energy policy initiatives, there are no projected decreases in sight.
Exploring the drivers of California’s high industrial electric rates shows a relationship to the clean energy tools available to industrial customers to mitigate costs and environmental impacts. California’s policy preferences and goals for preferred clean energy resources are revised regularly by the legislature and revisited by implementing state agencies, particularly the California Public Utilities Commission. This leads to frequent changes in incentive programs for clean energy resources. Determining an agency’s stage of implementation and funding level, as well as program rules of investor-owned utilities, can be challenging. With rates continuing to rise and an ever-present focus on the environment, however, clean energy choices today matter. They will affect not only your business, but tomorrow’s future, too.
Come to the March 18 Norwalk Meeting to learn about the agencies impacting California’s energy policy and near-term forecasted rate increases. Join the conversation about current regulatory policies for preferred resources and clean energy programs that are intended to incent and enable clean energy choices. Our broad discussion should help inform participants how to achieve key goals for mitigating energy costs and reducing environmental impacts with specific suggestions and clear next steps.
Nora Sheriff (Alcantar & Kahl). Nora advocates for her clients’ clean energy and end-use ratepayer interests before the California Public Utilities Commission, the legislature, with investor-owned utilities and at the California Independent System Operator.