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The Buzz

22 Jan 2021


Slashing emissions from dirty diesel backup systems, the use of which is growing, is the focus of energy and air quality regulators. Diesel generation is widely used because it is cheap, accessible, and established. Panelists at a joint agency workshop tout alternative technologies fueled by gas, more so when supplied with renewable gas or green hydrogen. But hurdles remain.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a new chair...

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Looming Diesel Concerns Drives Quest for Backup Alternatives

22 Jan 2021


A potential air quality crisis in the state best known for pollution regulation pushed the California Energy Commission into a full day forum Thursday on alternatives to diesel generators.

The use of backup generators has soared in California with the growing frequency of preventive power outages during climate-exacerbated fire conditions. That includes large diesel projects recently permitted by the Energy Commission and hundreds of megawatts of utility diesel generators approved by the California Public Utilities Commission...

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The Buzz

14 Jan 2021


One of the avenues for helping secure power supplies during safety shutoffs and heat waves is a proceeding on clean microgrids. But a new California Public Utilities Commission decision makes little headway on advancing the microgrid market because of concerns about ratepayer costs and safety. Those concerns do little to appease low-income advocates who object to putting private utilities in the driver’s seat...

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The Buzz

7 Jan 2021


Three is not a charm for Pacific Gas & Electric. Its problematic 1,150 MW Unit 2 at its Diablo nuclear plant is down for a third time because of a new issue. The soonest it will be back online is the end of May.

A quintet of community energy agencies receive solid credit ratings, which drive down their borrowing costs and save their customers money. The latest credit evaluations are assigned to Silicon Valley Clean Energy and CleanPowerSF...

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New Problem at Diablo Nuclear Plant’s Unit 2 Causes 3rd Shut Down

7 Jan 2021


Correction made Jan. 21

Half of California’s sole remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, is offline for the third time in six months, and it's not expected to be back in continuous service for several more weeks. The plant’s 1,150 megawatt Unit 2 went down Dec. 2.

Both of the unit's two unplanned outages earlier last year were due to a hydrogen leak from an electric component at Pacific Gas & Electric’s plant...

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The Buzz

17 Dec 2020


Federal energy regulators shoot down a proposed order requiring the grid operator to prove the August outages were not caused by its unreasonable tariff. Two of the three voting Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members reject interfering with the California Independent System Operator's work with state energy agencies to fill grid reliability gaps.

The California Public Utilities Commission approves lower electric vehicle charging rates, more EV investments in disadvantaged communities and inching ahead on vehicle to grid projects...

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FERC Votes 2-1 Against Interfering in CAISO Market

17 Dec 2020


The California grid operator dodged a bullet Dec. 17 when federal regulators voted down an order that would have required the California Independent System Operator to prove its mid-August outages were not caused by an unreasonable market tariff.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Rich Glick said FERC has already exacerbated problems in three eastern regional transmission organizations and shouldn’t intervene in California's market, which integrates large amounts of renewable power...

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The Buzz

10 Dec 2020


Liane Randolph, who has been at the California Public Utilities Commission for the last five years is making a big move. She is the next Air Resources Board chair, replacing Mary Nichols, who may head to Washington DC.

Southern California Edison signs another big round of energy storage deals this week. That includes 585 MW for three utility-scale battery projects in Calif. and Nevada. The price tag is hidden...

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Integrating Variable Resources and Flexible Demand

7 Dec 2020


What is the best way to mix in growing levels of intermittent renewable resources in networks such as California's, as it marches towards a 100% clean energy portfolio by 2045? Among the usual suspects are better interconnections, and more generation diversity, including more storage and price responsive demand, a resource traditionally neglected. A newly released book, Variable Generation, Flexible Demand, provides a broad lens on the subject...

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The Buzz

3 Dec 2020


The Diablo nuclear power plant’s Unit 2 shuts down just two days after it goes back online over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The $100 million rebuild of the electric generator part malfunctions for a third time. A watchdog wants to know the cause, who is on the hook for the repair and whether there will be heightened monitoring.

A little more than a day later, the California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s request for an additional $9 billion in revenue this year, and more the next two years...

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Diablo Canyon Unit Down Again

3 Dec 2020


One of two main units at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is down for the third time. Soon after Unit 2 was restarted over the Thanksgiving weekend after a month-and-a-half long outage, Pacific Gas & Electric again had to take it offline. The problem continues to be with an electric generator component that was rebuilt last year.

"Operators have previously taken the unit offline twice this year to allow for needed maintenance on this component, which had been refurbished in 2019 and is located on the non-nuclear side of Unit 2," PG&E stated the evening of Dec...

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The Buzz

19 Nov 2020


State utility regulators aim to move on demand side resources to avoid outages when it is roasting hot next summer. They plan to take the unusual step of expediting changes to California Public Utilities Commission resource adequacy, demand response and other load reduction programs.

Over at the nation’s capital, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission holds its first post-election meeting. The demoted Republican Chair Neil Chatterjee stands by his decision to support carbon pricing...

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The Buzz

12 Nov 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric pitches a plan to transfer $7.5 billion of shareholder debt to ratepayers, which gets raked over the coals. Consumer advocates argue that substituting long-term ratepayer-backed bonds for the bankruptcy debt puts customers' pocketbooks at risk and fails to meet legal requirements. Those mandates include that the financing be rate neutral and boost the utility’s chances of attaining investment grade ratings...

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The Buzz

6 Nov 2020


Neil Chatterjee, who has served as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair for more than two years, is suddenly replaced. President Trump late Thursday names James Danly the new FERC chief.

In blue California, state utility regulators approve Southern California Edison’s plan to issue $337 million in ratepayer-backed bonds to recover the costs of making its system more fire resilient. The California Public Utilities Commission also suspends a controversial multi-million- dollar bonus program for shareholders for squishy energy savings...

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Guest Juice: Energy Crisis 2.0: It’s Time to Use Our Smart Meters

2 Nov 2020


The rolling blackouts, according to the Preliminary Report on Causes of August Rotating Outages, were fundamentally caused by a California Independent System Operator software glitch and community choice agencies, utilities and direct access providers collectively under-scheduling customer demand in the Day-Ahead Market by ~7% to 8% on Aug. 14 and 15.

Ordinarily the under-scheduling wouldn’t have been a problem because how much demand Load Serving Entities choose to schedule in the Day Ahead Market should never impact the stability of the market—by design...

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The Buzz

30 Oct 2020


Two California private utility parents report third quarter earnings, one bearing good news and the other far from rosy. Pacific Gas & Electric gets a post-bankruptcy bounce. Edison International goes the opposite direction.

SoCalGas gets slammed for its climate damaging activities, from undermining home electrification to suing the state for its clean trucks rule. Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Barragán demand answers, pointing to wildfire destruction worsened by climate change...

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New Energy Providers Join Forces Against Entrenched Agency Rules

29 Oct 2020


Bureaucratic red tape at the California Public Utilities Commission prevented East Bay Community Energy from contracting for clean, behind-the-meter electricity last year that could have provided power or lowered demand during the August heat waves. The resources were designated to help meet East Bay’s 2020 resource adequacy obligations. The community aggregator says it also is hitting a wall with regulators who have limited its ability to invest in clean demand response and capitalize on aggregated residential solar-plus-storage resources, Stefanie Tanenhaus, EBCE senior regulatory analyst, told Current...

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The Old Must Yield to Clean Microgrids, Advocates Say

27 Oct 2020


California is striving to attain a clean, reliable, and affordable grid, but getting there requires huge changes—from institutional to technological. Part and parcel of this transition is the age-old battle between the established and the newbies, with the former fighting to hold onto turf and the newcomers struggling to get some viable sod in an evolving landscape.

A prime example is the struggle at the California Public Utilities Commission to advance non-utility owned clean microgrids...

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The Buzz

23 Oct 2020


State utility regulators allow Pacific Gas & Electric to fold $447 million into rates to recoup part of its wildfire tab. Whether these incurred costs linked to different accounts are reasonable will be determined later.

Also this week, a majority of the California Public Utilities Commission refuses to back a penalty program aimed at stopping poor ratepayers from being ripped off by sleezy solar contractors...

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Recurring Problem Forced Diablo Canyon Nuke Unit Offline

20 Oct 2020


The untimely Oct. 15 shut down of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant’s Unit 2 is the second malfunction in a critical component of its electric generator, which was just rebuilt. In July, the same Pacific Gas & Electric unit was forced offline because then, as now, the cooling system that lowers the extreme heat inside the spinning generator was leaking hydrogen gas, which is the cooling fluid...

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