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JUICE: Electric Rodeo, The Sequel

26 May 2016

(Click here to read Part 1)

Location, location, location.

It’s the well-known mantra of the real estate business. It’s also the mantra of the emerging electric vehicle charging station business.

Strategically located EV charging stations are worth their weight in gold. They are visible, convenient, and promote the use of plug-in cars in a state that seeks to cut its carbon pollution from its largest source: the transportation sector...


JUICE: Electric Rodeo

19 May 2016

If it was early 1900, I would be one of the 20 million people in the U.S. who owned a horse and not among the 4,000 owners of the new-fangled horseless carriage. I wouldn’t be among the 25,000 gasoline-operated car owners five years later either, largely because of the steep cost and the dearth of fueling stations.

At the get go, car ownership was limited to the wealthy. The first gas station didn’t appear until 1905...


Senate Committee Looks Beyond Aliso Canyon

12 May 2016

State energy regulators and utilities signaled May 10 that the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field may not play the central role to energy reliability in Southern California that it has in the past.

They discussed both the short-term prospects for energy reliability and the longer-term need for the facility at a May 10 oversight hearing by the Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee...


JUICE: Breaking Away

5 May 2016

Whether state lawmakers and voters ultimately move to restructure the California Public Utilities Commission remains to be seen. But one thing that’s clear is that making the Office of Ratepayer Advocates an independent agency would be a powerful first step given the experience of other states.

Across the nation, offices like ORA are supposed to serve as key defenders of utility ratepayers in public utility commission proceedings...


GUEST JUICE: Geothermal Balances California’s Renewable Portfolio

28 Apr 2016

By V. John White

California’s rapid renewable energy expansion has led to a boom in large-scale solar and wind projects and a huge expansion of rooftop solar. As costs have fallen, solar energy has become much less expensive, and utility-scale solar is now the least cost renewable energy.

Geothermal energy has historically been a large part of California’s renewable energy portfolio, but its role in California’s renewable power supply has steadily declined...


Lawmakers Concerned About EV Charging Proposal

21 Apr 2016

Nearly two dozen lawmakers are calling on the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure that Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed electric vehicle charging station plan does not give the utility an unfair market advantage.

Concerns were raised by 14 state Democrats and eight Republican legislators in an April 6 letter to CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman regarding a $160 million ratepayer-funded PG&E proposal...


GUEST JUICE: Kryptonite Needed for Community Choice Super Fee

14 Apr 2016

By Erica Etelson

Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission kicked off what is expected to be a long and arduous process of reforming the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment. The PCIA is an ongoing fee that California investor-owned utilities impose on departing ratepayers. That is, those of us who switch to a Community Choice energy program or procure electricity from a Direct Access retailer must pony up money every month to compensate the private utilities for losses associated with stranded contracts they’ve entered (or claim to have entered) on our behalf...


ORA Head Highlights Agency’s Savings to Ratepayers

14 Apr 2016

The new Director of the Office of Ratepayer Advocates said that for every dollar her agency spends, $192 in rate reductions are achieved. Last year, the ratepayer advocate saved utility customers a total $5.3 billion, Elizabeth Echols, the ORA director, said at an April 12 Power Association of Northern California meeting.

Echols was sworn in as the new director two weeks ago.

She has worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations, including as regional administrator for the Small Business Administration...


Florio Floats Compensating Utilities that Buy Distributed Energy

7 Apr 2016

California’s investor-owned utilities could get a 3.5 percent return on power they buy from distributed resources if a proposal by California Public Utilities Commission member Mike Florio goes forward.

While Florio noted he is not wedded to the specific percentage, he reasoned in his April 4 proposal that utilities might be more amendable to relying on power from small-scale solar systems, fuel cells, or storage systems operated within their distribution networks if they earned a profit...


JUICE: Good News in the Sierra

31 Mar 2016

Media’s focus, like that of many families at holiday gatherings, is on the messy, bad news.

The scuttlebutt at our Easter get together, for example, covered the absent spouse, the volatile niece, and the in-law who offends just about everyone. Those of us slaving away in the kitchen, per usual, virtually got ignored.

Absent from recent media headlines is that hydropower will be plentiful this summer, particularly in the northern and central Sierras, which provide most of the in-state hydroelectricity...


Scaled Back PG&E EV Station Proposal Faces Consumer Advocate Opposition

24 Mar 2016

A proposed settlement to allow Pacific Gas & Electric to install about 7,600 electric vehicle charging stations at a cost of $160 million is backed by utility, environmental, automobile and labor groups.

Under the charging station agreement submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission March 21, the utility would install 7,500 Level 2 charging ports and 100 fast chargers over three years...


Anschutz’s Wyoming Wind Project Marches Toward California Market

17 Mar 2016

The Bureau of Land Management has given a preliminary greenlight for a 3,100 MW wind power project in Wyoming that could supply up to 12,000 GWh of power to California, Nevada, and Arizona.

The federal agency released the second of two environmental assessments of the project March 9 along with a draft finding that the wind farm would have no significant environmental impacts.

Bureau Wyoming Acting State Director Mary Jo Rugwell said the agency “is committed to responsibly developing renewable energy on our nation’s public lands...


GUEST JUICE: Energy a la Mode

10 Mar 2016

By Fereidoon Sioshansi

The latest craze these days is peer-to-peer transactions taking place among consumers.

These so-called ‘prosumers’ use electronic platforms to trade surplus electricity from rooftop solar panels, share a storage battery in the garage or smart gadgets that better manage load, self-generation and storage.

The new buzz word is prosumage. With the arrival of storage, prosumer is passé...


GUEST JUICE: State Regulators Must Level the Playing Field

3 Mar 2016

By V. John White

The California Public Utilities Commission in 2013 and 2014 authorized Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to buy power to meet local capacity requirements to fill the gap from the retirement of once-through-cooled power plants and the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California.

We at the Center for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Technologies were heartened by the commission’s directives that the two utilities meet their local capacity needs by following the loading order’s preference for “preferred resources”—energy efficiency, demand response, and renewable generation—over fossil-fueled generation...


JUICE: Watts for Thought

25 Feb 2016

California’s 50 percent renewable electricity stretch goal and its move towards a western-wide grid favor mega alternative energy projects, possibly those out of state.

Even if small green energy projects counted towards the renewables mandate—but they don’t—several million solar roofs in the Golden State, for example, won’t get us to the 50 percent renewable mark set for 2030 under SB 350, passed last year...


Guest Juice: California’s Energy Efficiency Pickle

18 Feb 2016

Part 2

By Cynthia Mitchell

In last week’s Guest Juice I explained how the California Public Utility Commission and California Energy Commission are in a pretty pickle in implementing AB 802 and SB 350, the two intertwining laws aimed at overhauling energy efficiency.

AB 802’s provision to count and incent efficiency savings from existing building conditions and energy use (“existing conditions baseline”), instead of the state’s minimum building energy code requirements, is not the guaranteed boon to SB 350’s mandate to double electric and natural gas savings by 2030...


Guest Juice: California’s Energy Efficiency Pickle

11 Feb 2016

Pickle: pretty pickle, fine how-do-you-do, tight squeeze, mess, stew, no-win situation.

(Roget’s International Thesaurus, 2001)

The California Public Utility Commission and California Energy Commission are in a pretty pickle when it comes to achieving AB 802 and SB 350, the two intertwining laws aimed at overhauling energy efficiency.

Many utilities and market actors are looking to AB 802’s provision to count and incent efficiency savings from existing building conditions and energy use (“existing conditions baseline”)...


CLEAN TECH: Recycling Sewage Heat

11 Feb 2016

A fairly new alternative energy technology that works like a large fountain, moving water around, not for visual display but as a heat transfer mechanism, is gaining traction.

This renewable system developed by the six-year old International Wastewater Systems captures the heat of sewage water produced by multi-unit dwellings and other large buildings and reuses it to heat potable water and air...


JUICE: Regulatory & Well Failure

4 Feb 2016

For 25 consecutive years, SoCal Gas won the Division of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources’ annual “Outstanding Field Lease & Facility Maintenance Award” for its Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field.

The annual award—given by the division that oversees the environmental integrity and safety of natural storage fields—recognized the company through 2008 for “maintenance efforts” that went “above and beyond what is required...


JUICE: Efficiency Gold

28 Jan 2016

In days of yore, many of the Olympic champions were from the former Soviet Union.

Much of the credit for the creation of super USSR weight lifters, gymnasts, discus throwers and other competitors starting in the 1950s is attributed to the resources dedicated to developing the young men and women’s full sports potential. A key was using teams of professionals, from nutritionists to neurologists, who shared their knowledge to create near perfect athletes, in no small part to showcase Soviet know-how and power...