But the erosion of California’s century-old utility monopolies has alarmed some regulators. They worry that without new safeguards, the shift from a handful of big utilities to a decentralized system with dozens of energy providers could have unintended consequences – possibly including a repeat of the state’s early-2000s energy crisis, when a failed experiment in deregulation led to rolling power outages and ballooning electricity costs.
One of the leading community choice skeptics is Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission and a former renewable energy adviser to then-Gov. Jerry Brown. Picker has spearheaded a series of reports outlining potential risks posed by the rise of alternatives to the big utilities, not just CCAs but also rooftop solar, home battery systems and companies buying energy through a limited competitive market.