Lire cet article, “La restructuration des tarifs de l’électricité : un enjeu clé pour le marché solaire californien”, en français, dans les Bulletins Electroniques.
The liberalization policy of the electricity sector initiated by California in the mid 1990s plunged the state, in 2001, into an unprecedented energy crisis. Soaring prices for electricity on the wholesale market, reoccuring power outages and financial instabilities of the three major California utilities (energy companies) SCE, PG & E and SDG & E are aware that local authorities need to backtrack. Accordingly, the State of California has established a strict regulatory framework where electricity pricing is carefully monitored by the energy regulator, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC).
Like water, electricity can not be regarded as a mere object of consumption, making it’s pricing extremely complex. In 2009, it accounted for 41% of the primary energy consumption in the United States, compared to only 14% in 1949. The electrification of our lifestyles has made it a common good, and the most basic of necessities. Thus, ensuring cheap electricity while providing access to the greatest number of people has become a public policy priority. But setting a price should not ignore the economic reality faced by energy companies. It is necessary that electricity tariffs cover the operating costs of utilities, in order to ensure the sustainability of the service. Between social and economic considerations, the tarification of electricity is an extremely difficult balancing act.
The AB327 law passed by the state government in the month of October 2013 proposes to modernize the electricity tariffication currently in force. This overhaul of the rates will have a significant impact on California’s electricity industry and particularly on the solar industry.