Residential rates and rate design have traditionally been a bit of a “sacred cow” in California that regulators have simply chosen not to mess with.  But no more.

On Monday, I attended the first workshop in the new residential rate design rulemaking at the Commission (R.12-06-013) that is aimed at determining the appropriate policy directives in setting a new residential rate design for customers in California.

As you might expect, numerous stakeholders are affected by this rulemaking.  Obviously California’s electric utilities are directly affected, and also unsurprisingly, every single ratepayer advocacy organization seems to be participating.   More recently, environmental groups have also started to participate in these proceedings as a way to further their mission to ensure overall energy conservation and establishing specific environmental enhancement metrics related to energy policies, including rate design.

Strangely absent, however, are the myriad companies that are developing smart grid technologies specifically aimed at further enabling the conservation activities that are supposed to occur as a result of intelligent rate design.

These companies should participate to seek to ensure that an appropriate rate design in California is created that continues to provide a meaningful incentive to customers to seek to conserve power (and thus make their products and services more valuable); and 2) ensuring that the rate design is not so complex or otherwise inappropriate such that it renders their current platforms and products unusable or incompatible.