AUSenergy News Update 06/17/2015
Jun 16, 2015

In today’s AUSenergy News Update: CA passes retail choice expansion, Squirrel attacks power lines, and Utilities starting to change with times.

California Senate Passes Retail Choice Expansion

Summary: The California Senate has passed an amended version of SB 286, reports RetailEnergyX. The bill would increase the cap on retail choice (known in California as “Direct Access”) by 8,000 GWh. Only non-residential customers of investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are eligible for Direct Access. Under the current version of the bill, the additional 8,000 GWh will need to come from renewable sources and would be allocated across different IOU service territories. If enacted, the new rules would take effect January 1, 2016, and with a phase-in period of up to three years.

AUS Comment: With 8,000 GWh of energy now scheduled to come from renewable energy sources, we are seeing the beginning of a shift from utility-based owned power plants holding a monopoly over where our energy is coming from. This 8,000 GWh represents an increase of almost 33 percent from current levels. Thank you, California!

Critter control: Substation standard timely after squirrel attack on power lines

Summary: With just one squirrel and one bite, power was knocked out to some 45,000 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) customers last week. The costs associated with these outages continue to rise. Therefore, IEEE has issued a newly revised standard identifying various animals, behavior problems that may arise and subsequent mitigation methods.

AUS Comment: Are we nuts, but doesn’t it seem a bit unbelievable that in 2015, one squirrel could bring down the transmission of electricity to 45,000 people? Worrying what kind of animal and what kind of behavior problems may occur with possible deterrents in place just doesn’t sound like a technologically thought out solution. But, once again – nature shows us that no matter how well planned a system might be, we are at the mercy of our natural surroundings and the formidable force of Mother Nature.

How utilities are finding new revenue streams to combat stagnant load growth

Summary: With load growth stagnant and more customers generating some or all of their own power, utilities are being forced to look at new ways to earn income. New research from Greentech Media says utilities already have the resources on hand to create significant new revenue streams.

AUS Comment: We aren’t the only ones who have been hammering home the need for change in the utility business model – everyone knows it, but the utilities. If they would just stop fighting change and look to some of their current assets like stable infrastructure and customer relationships, they can start to expand the value-added services they can provide to their customer base. Some are already doing it with added services that include; tree trimming, surge protection insurance and electrical services for home repair and improvement.

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