ORA’s overall objective is to ensure that ratepayers receive reasonable and affordable energy that is also safe and reliable. In addition, our objective is to ensure that California’s energy policies are achieved in the most cost effective manner.
Catastrophic events are those of significant magnitude that were unforeseen at the time of a regular General Rate Case and impact utility customer service. This area includes the Catastrophic Events Memorandum Account (CEMA) which allows utilities to recover the incremental costs incurred to repair, restore or replace facilities damaged during a disaster declared by the appropriate federal or state authorities and WEBA - the Wildfire Expense Balancing Account.
In April 2012, the four largest Investor-owned Utilities (IOUs) in California – PG&E, Edison, SDG&E, SoCalGas – each filed a Cost of Capital application, requesting CPUC approval to update its Return on Equity (ROE) that will ultimately impact its Rate of Return and its total revenue requirement that can be collected from ratepayers.
General Rate Case (GRC) proceedings currently take place every three years before the CPUC. The GRC will set the base revenue requirements for electric/gas operations. These base revenues recover the utility's operation and maintenance expenses, depreciation, and taxes and provide a return on invested capital. ORA participates in GRCs for the major utilities in California and other utilities that provide service to California residents.
Every three years, ORA reviews and makes recommendations on operations and maintenance (O&M), decommissioning, and ownership costs for PG&E’s Diablo Canyon and Humboldt Bay nuclear power plants, along with Southern California Edison/SDG&E’s San Onofre units. ORA also reviews seismic study and nuclear fuel costs and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license extension activities.
Rate design is the process that creates a pricing structure, or rate structure, for electricity. ORA is intimately involved in advocating on behalf of all California ratepayers in rate design proceedings before the CPUC.
In 2012, the CPUC established the EPIC program for competitive funding of R&D programs. The CPUC also looks at individual utility requests for funding such as PG&E's Silicon Valley Technology Center (SVTC) and the statewide proposal to fund a sole $150 million contract with Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
As the CPUC considers and adopts policy on the Smart Grid, a transmission system that uses two-way communication to manage energy use and provide better information to consumers, ORA analyzes and makes recommendations on the associated issues.
As California moves from analog electric meters to Smart Meters, ORA maintains its role in advocating for cost-effectiveness, safety and reliability for consumers.