Responding to regulatory and industry warnings of potentialpower outages this summer, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., SanFrancisco, has begun offering its largest customers payments forvoluntarily curtailing at least 20% of their loads during peaksummer days. The large combination utility covering the northernhalf of California is targeting its 450 largest customers and arelatively few small businesses to obtain up to 500 MW of savingsin a given peak hour.

Named “E-BID,” the new PG&E utility program was recentlyauthorized by state regulators, allowing payments to customers forhaving to curtail in the midst of these peaks. Customers can choosehow much they will curtail, with 20% being the minimum, saidPG&E’s utility spokesperson Ron Low. The payments arecalculated by taking (1) the final day-ahead price through theCalifornia Power Exchange, (2) subtracting a customer’s regularrate schedule, and (3) multiplying by the total time period forcurtailment.

It is unknown at this time how much the program will end upcosting; it is a function of what the day-ahead prices are and howlong the peak periods last, according to PG&E’s Low.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved the programearlier this month as a pilot effort for both PG&E and SouthernCalifornia Edison Co. in response to the California IndependentSystem Operator’s predictions that the state’s grid will facerecord demands this summer.

Under E-BID, about 50 of PG&E’s smallest commercialcustomers will be included in the program on a first-come basis,but the major focus is on big energy users.

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