Friday, February 01, 2008

PUC Lightens Up On Utilities

With Super Bowl Sunday only 48 hours away, a football metaphor seems appropriate: in life as in football, there are make-up calls!

Yesterday we talked about SoCalEd throwing itself on the mercy of the PUC in its appeal of a fine for cooking the books. Today, we're taking about some serious love being shown the utilities in the form of favorable reforms to the energy-efficiency risk-reward program that the PUC adopted four months ago.

According to Elizabeth Douglas's write-up in the LA Times, orginally the program, "utilities that achieved 65% of energy- efficiency goals collectively would have been penalized $142 million. Incentives would accrue after the companies reached 85% of the goals."

Now the playing field has shifted considerably in utilities favor, allowing utilities "to earn about $89 million in customer-funded incentives for achieving as little as 65% of the power savings goals laid out for them."

Peevey loves the decision because nothing motivates utilities like money, but Tom Roberts from the Divison of Ratepayer Advocats sees it as a give-away:"We had a big problem with a reward at the 85% level," he said. "Now [the utilities] would be rewarded for what we could call mediocre or D-plus performance, and that doesn't seem consistent with the goal of trying to reach 100% of goals."