Glendale Water and Power has started holding public workshops on its proposed rate increase - though still remaining mum about their mandated Feed-in Tariff program. Here’s an update.
As we reported before, GWP is poised to impose a rate increase over the next five years in excess of 24%. The first two of six scheduled public meetings to discuss the rate increase were held on Wednesday and Thursday and GWP posted their presentation materials from those meetings online. Here are some of the highlights from those materials:
Of course, in any systemwide rate increase like this, some customers will fare better than others. So who are the winners and losers? This chart is pretty definitive:
In each and every year of this five-year rate increase, residential customers are seeing higher rate increases than any other class of customer in Glendale! They aren’t looking at a 24% rate increase, their rate increase is 26.4% or 5.28%/year. In contrast, small commercial customers who do not exceed the threshold for demand charges (i.e., peak demand less than 30 kW) are seeing the smallest increases. (GWP’s spokesperson asserted that this result is mandated by Proposition 26.)
Unfortunately, there is nothing in the presentation about the reinstitution of GWP’s solar rebate program, and the GWP website simply advises customers to “check back again after July 2013." Of course, it would be more useful if GWP published its plans for that program - along with the FiT - and allowed the public time to comment and possibly improve the program.
At present, that doesn’t seem to be happening in Glendale.
So electric customers of GWP are going to see their rates increase substantially - albeit from a relatively low base at present - and the most effective tool that they could have to counter those increases, adding solar, remains in limbo.
“It’s been a long, time coming…” and we are just now starting to get some details about the state-mandated Feed-in Tariff program for Glendale Water & Power (GWP). While there is more unknown than known, here’s an update on what we have learned so far.
Will GWP’s FiT Actually Support PV Like This?
As we have reported previously, GWP is under a state-law mandate to offer a solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program by July 1, 2013 - some 33 days from today. Keeping in mind that it took LADWP the better part of three years to design and approve its FiT does not fill one with confidence that GWP can go from having nothing in writing to distribute to the public to a successful program start in just 33 days. (Of course, the law only requires that a program be “offered” - it says nothing about whether that program is designed in a way that gives it any chance of being successful.)
Despite having been told that public workshops would be held during May and June, it is clear that at least the May dates have gone by the board. With the clock ticking, and nothing new on the GWP website about its FiT, we started combing the Glendale website for possible hints in the posted agendas for either the Water & Power Commission or the City Council - no luck. So we decided to call the City Clerk’s office, because in any city, the City Clerk is the one person guaranteed to know what is going on.
We spoke with Michael Dunn who gave his title as Secretary to the City Clerk. He informed us that indeed the FiT is scheduled to be considered by the City Council for the first time on June 18, with the second reading (and presumed adoption) one week later on June 25. He also informed us that the Agenda, complete with downloadable materials, should be available to the public on June 13. (You can access the Agendas for the Glendale City Council here.) Of course, a first disclosure of a program as complicated as a FiT just 17 days before its state-mandated go-live date does not suggest that Glendale or GWP actually wants any input from the public. Rather, this is a schedule that suggests that any public comment is entirely pro forma and whatever is put forward by GWP is what the Council will adopt. (No doubt citing the state-mandated deadline as justification for taking the proposal “as-is." Classic.)
Unfortunately, Mr. Dunn knew nothing more about the FiT himself, but he offered to send me to someone at GWP who might be able to answer more of my questions. He transferred me to Victor Pacheco who gave his title as Senior Electric Service Planner. Mr. Pacheco told us that the program would be offered for projects between 30 kW and 1.4 MW capacity and that the program was limited to 4.5 MW total. He was unable to tell us anything more about the remaining details of the program, such as the base price for energy to be offered, or whether time of delivery factors would be applied, or whether there would be any carve-out from the 4.5 MW total for smaller sized systems (as there is in Los Angeles).
He was able to tell us that a FiT Manager was going to be selected (apparently from existing staff) but no such appointment was yet in place. Well, not like there’s any urgency here - after all, you still have 30+ days to figure this out - what could possibly go wrong?
As for public meetings to discuss the FiT, he was unaware of any and the only public meetings alluded to on GWP’s website concern their five-year, 24% proposed rate increase. While the FiT is apparently bundled into that rate ordinance, it just doesn’t make sense to try and combine the two into the same public meeting.
As always, we will update this post as we learn more information.
We have just learned that Glendale Water and Power (GWP) is proposing some significant rate increases over the next five years with a Council vote tentatively set for August.
GWP’s proposed rate increase breaks down as follows:
Put that all together and you are looking at a 24% rate increase over the next five years, or 4.8% per year. (By way of comparison, we generally assume a 4.5%/year rate increase for municipal utilities and 5.7%/year for SCE when we do our Return on Investment modeling.)
GWP is proposing to hold a series of public meetings during June to discuss these new rates. From the GWP website, here is the presently scheduled set of meeting dates:
Unfortunately, at present the GWP solar program for both residential and commercial customers is “not available,” with the website advising interested residential customers to “check back again after July 2013,” but simply telling commercial customers that the “program is currently not available.”
Faced with a substantial rate increase - with 63% of that increase coming in the next two years - GWP customers should have the option to Go Solar NOW! Hopefully the process that implements these new rates will also provide some assistance for GWP customers who wish to do just that - we will keep you posted.
SB 43 - the Community Solar bill authored by Democratic State Senator Lois Wolk - passed its first legislative hurdle yesterday but in doing so it highlighted potential trouble down the road.
The bill passed the Committee on a 6-4 vote but the combination of who voted Nay does not bode well. Here’s the chart of how they voted:
First observation - the profile in courage award to Committee Vice Chair Jean Fuller for not voting on the bill at all.
Senator Wright’s district encompasses some decidedly working class neighborhoods in cities such as Compton, Hawthorne, Inglewood, San Pedro, Watts and Wilmington. We reached Senator Wright this morning in his Sacramento office - he answered his own phone! - and he was very direct in his comments. He called the measure a “stupid bill” and said he opposed it because of its cost-shifting to other rate payers and that its mandatory purchase and subscription provisions made the bill something he could not support.
We told him about potential clients that we see - like the Glendale woman we met yesterday who so very much wanted to add solar but simply had no viable space to do so - who could really benefit from such a bill. Interestingly, he cited programs like Glendale’s “Green Energy” rate by which GWP customers could purchase “green energy” by paying a surcharge to GWP. We say interestingly because presumably the renewable resources that GWP is using to satisfy that requirement have the same potential issues as those provided by a Community Solar provider - for example, the dispatchability of a resource is not dependent upon who owns the resource.
Our conversation touched on a number of subjects - the Senator was very generous with his time - and we came away with the sense that the while he is quite thoughtful on these issues, he will most likely not be an ally in the struggle to preserve net metering as we know it.
Senator Padilla’s office, on the other hand, did not answer when we called. We will update this post if we hear back from him.
The City of Glendale is under a legal mandate to offer a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) program to its customers by July 1 of this year - but as yet, no information about a proposed program has been made public. Given that LADWP literally took years to develop its program that just began in February, Glendale’s silence raised serious questions over whether they would be able to produce a viable program before the deadline. Today we got a tiny glimpse at the process - here’s our update.
We have been trying to get information from GWP about their mandated FiT program since January. At that time we were informed that GWP was “conducting a rate design study” but that the study had not been made public “because it still [is a] work in progress." However, when we pressed for information about when the study would be made public, we received no reply. (Indeed, as of this writing that study has still not been made public.)
We then tried to contact the City’s Commissioners who oversee GWP, specifically sending emails to Commissioners Yao, Dentler, Chan, Armenian, and Adjemian. Sadly, the email addresses for Chan, Dentler and Adjemian - which are set forth on the City’s website - bounced and neither of the other two Commissioners provided any reply.
Today we decided to take a different tack and we turned to Twitter to see if that would provide a means of generating a response. Specifically, we tweeted the following:
@COGWaterPower - when are you going to release info about your mandated Feed-in Tariff program?
Score one for the power of Social Media as we got a direct message in response just 17 minutes later:
We are currently working on the rates and community meetings will be scheduled for May/June. Info. will be posted on meetings soon.Thank u
This was followed shortly thereafter with the following email from Hector Gutierrez:
As you are now aware per our response to your tweet today, the public meetings to inform our GWP customers of the new proposed electrical rates will take place during the months of May and June. Our legal department is currently working on the Feed-in Tariff implementation process. All these issues will be presented to the GWP Commission and City Council for their approval, and put in effect on July 1, 2013.
So, we still don’t know anything about the proposal’s specifics, but we do know that public meetings will be held in the two-months before the program is set to go live, which is more than we knew before. Unfortunately, public meetings in May and June to be followed by votes by the GWP Commission and then the City Council does not really provide much opportunity for changes to the program before a mandated July 1 go-live date. Moreover, it is curious that the public process would be framed as meetings to “inform our GWP customers of the new proposed electrical rates” as if only GWP customers were stakeholders in this process.
For now, we will hold our skepticism in check and await (eagerly!) news of the actual dates for the public meetings. Once any additional information is made public, we will update you on developments.
Of course, if anyone out there has any additional insight into what is happening in Glendale, we would love to hear from you!