On Wednesday, May 24th, the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee held an informational hearing on the widespread problems many parts of the state are facing related to the inability of utilities to timely provide electricity to new housing and development projects.

The hearing, chaired by Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), featured presentations from the Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission, Pacific Gas and Electric, Roseville Electric Utility, Humboldt County Supervisor Rex Bohn, and Bill Webb Homes.  The Committee’s background information for the hearing can be found here

At the hearing, Assembly Members expressed deep frustration with the current inability to provide timely access to power, including Assembly Members Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) and Jim Patterson (R-Fresno). 

Supervisor Rex Bohn praised PG&E’s efforts to help its communities deal with emergency response, acknowledged that PG&E is working to get more power to Humboldt County, but also noted that many in his area have been told it will take 5-7 years to get power and have had “Will Serve” letters rescinded by PG&E after the recipients had invested considerable resources in anticipation of being able to connect to the power grid. 

RCRC provided written comments to the committee and testified that these are not recent problems, as some have complained that the inability to timely electrical service has long chilled economic development.  RCRC noted that some of the current problems are due to utility failure to work closely with communities to determine anticipated demand, which in turn resulted in inaccurate distribution plans, revenue requests, and infrastructure upgrades. To address these problems, RCRC suggested increasing coordination between utilities and local governments about anticipated development; sharing more information about where capacity currently exists or can easily be added; and retooling the existing distribution planning and application processes to make them more nimble and responsive to changing conditions.  Some of these suggestions have been included in Assembly Member Wood’s Assembly Bill 50, which passed the Assembly 67-0 on May 25th and now goes to the Senate for consideration. 

For more information, please contact RCRC Policy Advocate, John Kennedy