CA Munis Call for Government-Run Grid

A government-run transmission grid is one of the ideas that will be proposed this week by California's statewide association of 30 government-run utilities in response to the summer electricity price and supply woes. The municipal utilities account for about 25% of the state's electricity.

A second measure, which officials of the California Municipal Utility Association (CMUA) plan to file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week, calls for re-regulating wholesale electricity prices on a cost-based basis by targeting cost-based caps on specific generators.

The other steps CMUA will advocate are: (1) assuring reasonably priced supplies for residential and small business customers to buffer them from wholesale price volatility and (2) giving small consumers more options to control their electricity demand through DSM, load management and distributed generation programs.

CMUA is taking the position that both state and federal actions are needed to correct market flaws, and that among those corrections is the need to replace the existing nonprofit, state-chartered grid operator (Cal-ISO) by a public agency "TRANSCO" that will evolve into a multi-state regional transmission organization (RTO).

"It is important that we get some organization with the responsibility and authority to build transmission," said S. David Freeman, general manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the nation's largest municipal utility who will attend the CMUA briefing to voice his support. "If you think about new generation as like cars and the transmission system as an electrical highway, we can make all the cars in the world, but if we don't have enough lanes for them to move on, we are going to have a problem.

"Transmission is as much of an essential item as power plants. All the attention the legislature has given the generating plant siting laws is necessary, but insufficient in getting a balance of supply and demand."

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