The California Public Utility Commission has extended the comprehensive privacy and third party access rules adopted in its ground-breaking July 2011 order. That order applied to the electricity services provided by state’s three major investor owned electric utilities. The new order applies similar rules to gas services when the utility uses smart meters. It also extended the rules to community choice aggregators, local communities that aggregate the buying power of their residents, and to electric service providers (ESPs), non-utilities that provide electric service in a utility area, to the extent the ESP serves residential and small business customers. The order is available here.  

In a separate draft resolution, the California PUC has rejected the privacy tariffs filed by the three electric utilities. The July 2011 order had required the three major investor owned electric utilities in California to file implementing tariffs. The tariffs were to reflect the PUC’s new rules and provide for access to private information by third parties. The companies each filed proposed tariffs in October 2011.

The tariff filings drew protests from several organizations. A primary complaint was that the proposed tariffs would implement the rules inconsistently. Concerns were also raised that the forms proposed by two of the three utilities to obtain customer consent may be too onerous, request information beyond that required by the rules, and potentially confuse consumers and chill innovation. The forms proposed by Pacific Gas & Light and Southern California Edison are can be found at:

  http://www.pge.com/nots/rates/tariffs/tm2/pdf/GAS_3251-G.pdf

and

http://www.sce.com/NR/sc3/tm2/pdf/2644-E.pdf

The PUC has just released a draft resolution that would reject all three tariffs and require the companies to participate in an upcoming workshop and strive to develop a consistent, uniform set of tariffs. The draft resolution requires the utilities to re-file tariffs following the workshop and, if different tariffs are filed, explain why consensus could not be reached and why the refilled tariff is nevertheless reasonable. The PUC’s draft resolution is slated for consideration at the Commission’s September 13, 2012 public meeting. The efforts to develop consistent tariffs will also be relevant to gas companies who must also file new tariffs.

Third parties that anticipate seeking customers consent to obtain access to smart meter information governed by these privacy tariffs should continue to monitor this proceeding. For further information regarding California’s ongoing proceeding, please see our March 20, 2012 Smart Grid Update and our February 6, 2012 article, “Establishing a Framework for Third Party Access to Consumer-Specific-Energy-Use Data.”