San Diego Business Journal

CPUC Rejects SDG&E's initial Plan for Independent Marketing Division

By John Cox Friday, December 30, 2016
   

The California Public Utilities Commission has rejected San Diego Gas & Electric Co.’s initial plan for forming an independent marketing division that would give customers information about local entities proposed to compete with the utility.

In a Dec. 27 letter to Clay Faber, SDG&E’s director of regulatory affairs, the CPUC’s energy affairs division director, Edward Randolph, said the company’s plan does not comply with the agency’s new policy for forming divisions to speak out about so-called community choice aggregation programs.

CCAs, as these locally controlled entities are known, offer an alternative to buying power from investor-owned utilities. Several have been proposed in San Diego County but none currently operate here.

Randolph’s two-page letter pointed out several instances in which the plan SDG&E filed with the state Nov. 21 does not comply with CPUC policy.

One concern he cited dealt with the need to avoid having lobbyists or marketing individuals who work for both the utility and the new division. The company must perform a “holistic review” of the job functions of personnel, employed or contracted by SDG&E, assigned to the marketing arm, Randolph asserted.

Another of his criticisms regarded the need to train not just employees but also contractors assigned to the new division.

SDG&E has requested a rehearing of the policy on independent marketing divisions that the commission voted unanimously to adopt Aug. 18.

Consumer advocates have opposed SDG&E’s plan to form the division, calling it undue interference. The utility has defended its proposal as a way to educate consumers and balance the public dialogue. No other investor-owned utilities in the state have proposed such a division.

SDG&E belongs to Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.