Sneaky CPUC Resolution Passes despite Huge Statewide Opposition

Around fifty people from all over California gathered February 8, 2018, at 8:30 am in San Francisco to protect Community Choice from interference by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). There were two issues before the CPUC that represented major power grabs by that agency. Resolution E-4907 already had major opposition from Community Choice supporters from San Diego to Humboldt County, from advocacy organizations, to Community Choice program staff and elected officials. 
As originally proposed in December 2017, E-4907 would have put a defacto freeze on new and emerging Community Choice programs in California, bringing an abrupt halt to the growth of what is clearly a very popular alternative to the monopoly utilities (PG&E) for electric service in the state. Early, fierce opposition to the resolution by Community Choice supporters achieved only minimal revision in the punitive measure, adding a complicated and lengthy waiver process to bypass the freeze. Commissioners passed the modified resolution unanimously.  
In spite of the active efforts of CPUC staff to discourage speakers, about forty spoke in opposition to E-4907, and one in favor, a representative from a corporate utility front group. Many speakers pointed out that the resolution overstepped the limited authority over Community Choice programs given to the CPUC by AB117, the California law establishing Community Choice--the right of local jurisdictions to create local non-profit alternatives to the private utilities. Others testified to the popularity of these programs, and their ability to address environmental and social justice issues in energy services.
The most wrenching testimony came from elected officials and advocates from jurisdictions that have invested time, effort and taxpayers money in the initial efforts to form Community Choice programs, and are now unable to continue.
A second, less publicized issue was a new rule, R16-02-007, governing integrated resource plans of all agencies that serve electric customers in California. It gives the CPUC authority to develop guidelines for the resources included in those plans and the ability to approve them or not. This is another case of overreach by the CPUC, which only has the authority to certify that Community Choice integrated resource plans are in compliance with state legislative mandates. This new rule also passed unanimously.  
While the hearing resulted in a double loss for Community Choice growth and autonomy in California, the E-4907 incident may well backfire on the CPUC. The blatant power grab and the terrible timing and process of the resolution served to fire-up opponents. Even though the first three weeks of the comment period for E-4907 was over the winter holidays, with no formal proceeding or public comment hearing, the CPUC received hundreds of comments in opposition to the resolution. 
Every attack on Community Choice, whether from the monopoly utilities, the CPUC, or the State legislature, serves to unify and educate supporters and spread the word that Community Choice is a bold new way for communities to take back control of energy resources.