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Want the Power to Choose your Electricity Provider in California? Here’s How

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If you manage a business or lead enterprise located in California, and you want the power to choose your energy supplier, be prepared for June 2020.That’s when businesses can apply for the Direct Access program.

While California business and home owners can currently choose their natural gas supplier, their options for buying electricity are limited by regulations. Under the state’s Direct Access program, only a finite number of non-residential customers can purchase electricity from a retail supplier, rather than from a local utility. You can read more about California’s energy landscape in our recent post.

By switching from the default electricity rates offered by utilities to a competitive retail energy supplier, you could significantly lower your energy costs, receive enhanced customer service and gain access to innovative technology and renewable options.

Interested in applying for the Direct Access program? Find out what you need to know in this guide to apply before the lottery opens in June of next year. If you need assistance during the submission process, Direct Energy Business is here to help. Please contact Michael.Vondle@directenergy.com; or call us at 833.926.1822.

How to Apply for Direct Access

Customers who want to participate in the Direct Access program submit six-month notices to their utility during a certain time period during the year, and they are placed on a lottery list. The window to apply for 2021 will occur for one week during the month of June 2020. You can only submit a notice during this period.

Each utility has its own version of the sixth-month notice form, which also contains email and fax information on how to submit it. You will need to have your federal tax ID (which is set up through your utility) to complete the form.

All account numbers referenced on your form must match the same federal tax ID. If you’re unsure of your number, you can contact your utility’s customer relations department or your designated utility account representative.

Once you submit your sixth-month notice, you have three business days to rescind it before it becomes a binding document.

If your utility finds incorrect information on your form, you will be notified and will have five business days to correct and re-submit the form. If you don’t respond, the utility will void your Direct Access submission.

Acceptance Criteria and Timeline

The Direct Access program uses a lottery-style system and has limited capacity, so not every customer who submits a sixth-month notice will be selected.

On May 30, 2019, the CPUC approved a proposal to raise on the Direct Access cap to 4 TWh/year from 24.8 to 28.8 TWhs. The load service will start January 2021.

Your utility will notify you electronically by early August to let you know if you’re notice was accepted and you were added to the waiting list. Once you’re on the waiting list, you’re eligible to be selected through the lottery process.

What to do if You Aren’t Selected

Unfortunately, if you aren’t selected, you will need to reapply next year. The current Direct Access waiting list expires at the end of each year’s submission period, so you will need to submit a new sixth-month notice to your utility the following year.

The odds of winning the Direct Access lottery may not be in your favor, but submitting an application is one concrete action businesses can take to express dissatisfaction about the closed power market and support changes that give power to consumers. As demand for Direct Access increases, it will be imperative for legislators to recognize that current limitations on the retail energy market no longer reflect a majority opinion.

What Direct Energy Business can do to Help

We’re here to help you navigate the Direct Access submission process. Here’s what we will need to assist you during the submission period:

  • A list of account numbers for the sixth-month notice form. If you have multiple federal tax IDs, then you will need to submit multiple forms.
  • A signed sixth-month notice form. If someone else is signing the notice on your behalf, you will also need to submit a signed customer service information request form with the box named “request rate changes” initialed.

If you have any questions related to the Direct Access program or need help submitting your notice, please call us at 833.926.1822.

Updated: September 25, 2019 Posted: April 12, 2019

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