California PUC Commissioner Carla Peterman: “I was very fortunate to come to the commission at an important time and work on issues that were emerging. We adopted the first targets for energy storage for utilities in the nation. That was one of my first major decisions.
We put out a ruling proposing those targets in 2014. I remember at the time we thought, will this happen? It's been very rewarding to see that the framework we adopted in California has now been adopted in other states.
When I started at the commission, we prohibited utilities from investing in electric vehicle charging, because of concerns about anti-competitive behavior.
Then, over time, we saw the need for zero-emission vehicles growing in the state, given our climate goals. Transportation creates forty percent of our greenhouse gases and we've got to do something. Given California’s increasing zero-carbon energy supply, electrifying the transportation sector can result in significant vehicle emission reductions.
The utilities have an important role to play because they're the providers of the fuel. They're the managers of the distribution system, so they can have some insight into how to smartly install charging to make it valuable for the grid.
There was a real lack of investment in this area, so we lifted that prohibition in 2014. Since then, we've had several applications for investment in electric vehicle charging from the utilities.
We've already approved over two hundred million dollars in investments. We now have a proceeding considering a billion dollars of investment across the three utilities. I expect more proposals will come this year.” (Read the complete interview here.)
California PUC President Michael Picker: “I think you saw some of the ways in which the electric utilities, for example, have been stepping up their game [protecting against wildfires]. San Diego invested heavily in weather forecasting, putting up their own anemometers to measure wind speed, and acquiring computers to be able to run wind models.
Everybody else uses their data now in that part of the state. They have the best, the most granular, the most reliable data on wind speed and location within the county of San Diego.
I think everybody is making progress. Part of the challenge is how do we all learn about it? How do we begin to incorporate that into our oversight and audit and enforcement?
Part of our problem is that we have limited authority. How do we learn to depend on the authority and the skill set of other agencies? We have actually been working very hard to build closer relationships with CAL FIRE for three years.
At some point it became very clear that we needed to have a Memorandum of Understanding that delineated roles very clearly, so that everybody knows who was supposed to do what, when. And that was also a success.” (Read the complete interview here.)
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Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly
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