Industry, Regulators Work to Comprehend Impact of COVID-19 on Business

California Energy Markets

The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly rifled through California’s energy industry, erasing nearly 20,000 clean-energy jobs in the state in March and creating uncertainty over unpaid electric bills, project contracting, financing, construction and permitting.

Beth Vaughan, executive director of the California Community Choice Association, said it is still too soon to know how much CCAs and their customers will be affected in terms of customer nonpayment. Unlike rent payments, which largely occur on the same day, ratepayers have different bill-payment schedules. Utilities bill customers on behalf of CCAs.

“There is a lot of ‘I don’t know’ at this point in terms of impact, but we are setting up systems to track that,” Vaughan said in an April 16 video interview. “Number one is the customer . . . number one is how the state takes care of the customer.”

She noted that CCAs are still executing contracts, such as an April 16 announcement by East Bay Community Energy of a contract for 16.25 MW of battery storage capacity in downtown Oakland (see related story). It is the construction phase of projects that will be more complicated, including materials, supply chain and financing, where there is suddenly a great number of unknowns, according to Vaughan. “The CCAs are still open for business,” she said.

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