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CPUC Pushes Dynamic Pricing, Efficiency & Renewables

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) set a broad range of regulatory goals yesterday to help boost the state’s energy efficiency standards and renewable energy production. The regulator also set a deadline of 2011 for state utility PG&E to propose a new “dynamic pricing” rate structure. Dynamic pricing allows for variable electricity rates that reflect the wholesale market value of electricity. Coupled with greater transparency provided by smart metering and energy dashboards, dynamic pricing could allow PG&E customers to better understand the cost of electricity, and thus in theory cut down on their energy usage.

CPUC also set energy efficiency goals for 2012 through 2020, which it estimates will save the state some 4,500 megawatts, about nine major power plants’ worth of power. CPUC’s energy efficiency goals will be given to the California Air Resources Board and be incorporated into the implementation of AB 32, the state’s ambitious “Global Warming Solutions Act.”

The commission also approved clean energy contracts for all three major California utilities. San Diego Gas and Electric Co. has been greenlighted to accept 40 megawatts of geothermal energy starting in 2010, while Southern California Edison has approval to receive 30 megawatts, with the option to scale up to 100 megawatts, of geothermal power by 2012. And PG&E was given the OK to keep 26 megawatts of biomass power in its portfolio. The utilities need to secure clean energy contracts now to ensure they can meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which mandates utilities get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010, a much shorter time frame than most states.

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