You just knew that this Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) rulemaking at the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco was going to be a monster when they assigned not 1, not 2, but 4 administrative law judges to it.  I'm not 100% sure, but I do think that's some sort of record for the PUC... 4 concurrent ALJs working in the same rulemaking.  Insanity!

Happily given the complexity and breadth of the rulemaking, Commissioner Ferron and the ALJs have decided that the Commission will prioritize the issues to be discussed in the rulemaking so that there will be a series of interim rulings and decisions throughout the rulemaking.  A scoping memo setting forth that prioritization is anticipated soon.

However, the first of those interim rulings came out last night focused on the adopted, but not yet enacted, Section 399.20 of the Public Utilities Code which increases the eligibility cap for new facilities for the California feed-in tariff  from 1 MW to 3 MW and increases the total program cap to 750 MW from its previous 500 MW.

The implementation of these changes, especially the derivation of the rate (or rates) that will be included in the California feed-in tariff, will have a significant impact on the continued roll-out of distributed generation facilities throughout California.  It's important to note that the California feed-in tariff is not supposed to be like the often-debated feed-in tariffs in Spain or Germany that included a subsidy within the feed-in tariff rate.   The California feed-in tariff is only supposed to ensure that if you build a small renewable facility in California that you will be allowed to interconnect and at least receive the market price for the value of your generation.

The ruling requests comment on a number of implementation issues for the California feed-in tariff (how do you calculate payments and pricing, how do you ensure that all other ratepayers are indifferent to those payments and pricing, etc.) by July 21.

So if you want to get involved in the CPUC RPS rulemaking with regard to the 3 MW California feed-in tariff subissue, this is your opportunity.