Out West student blog

Understanding Efficiency and Equity at CPUC

Image credit: Salonia Kapoor

Madalsa Singh PhD ‘23
Area of Study: Energy Resources Engineering
Intern, Office of Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves, California Public Utilities Commission



Why did you want to do this internship?

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is a regulatory agency that regulates privately owned public utilities in the state of California, including electric power, telecommunications, natural gas and water companies. Within its ambit, it is also in charge of formulating the new tariff by which solar rooftop adopters would be compensated. I was fascinated by reports and working papers, both from CPUC and other academic institutions, that looked at the balance between efficiency and equity of the existing net metering tariff and its successors. 

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

I am building a utility tariff model to understand how much cross-subsidization (nonparticipant customers effectively subsidizing the use of technology by adopters) will occur under different tariff designs as well as the distributional impacts across incomes, geography, and race. I'm also helping out with proceedings of the ongoing rule-making, which includes reading and distilling proposals, testimonies, rebuttal testimonies, and evidentiary hearings.

Describe one project you will be working on this summer. 

Net energy metering tariffs, until now, provided customer generators full retail-rate credits for energy exported to the grid. Retail rates include the cost of energy serviced, but also fixed charges such as transmission and distribution costs, costs for wildfire hardening, and public service programs, which are independent of the amount of energy a customer uses. I'm building a utility tariff model to understand how changing this export rate would impact different customers.

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals?

My PhD thesis explores the distributional impacts of energy transition. I work largely onthe electricity and transport sector, and understanding those aspects for distributed generation has been immensely helpful.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hiking, running, reading, and falling on my face while I try the crow pose.


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