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The Buzz

17 Nov 2017


The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is jumping on the community choice bandwagon. This week its supervisors voted to seek the green light from the California Public Utilities Commission in spite of concerns about exit fees.

As community choice aggregation programs expand and mature in Southern and Northern California, renewable power projects being built to serve choice customers are swelling...

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Opinionated: Plan to Power Through Weather-Related Outages

14 Nov 2017


By Kevin Stenson

Weather has impacted California significantly this past year, particularly wildfires fed by heavy winds. Like any major weather event, there are things that went well and things that can be improved.

With California being the most populated state in the nation and the state’s energy demand being the second highest, it’s important for utilities to plan ahead for weather conditions...

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The Buzz

9 Nov 2017


This week, energy regulators signed off on utility bill protections for victims of the Northern California wildfires, as called for by a consumer advocate.  At the same time, the California Public Utilities Commission put off voting whether to deny San Diego Gas & Electric nearly $400 million in fire-related expenses from three large fires in San Diego a decade ago.  Looming in the background is a litigation threat by SDG&E...

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CPUC Delays SDG&E Fire Cost Recovery Decision

9 Nov 2017


California energy regulators again deferred voting on a decision rejecting San Diego Gas & Electric’s request to recover $379 million in costs and legal fees incurred from three extensive wildfires in San Diego in 2007.

The pending ruling denies the money because SDG&E “did not reasonably manage and operate its facilities prior to the 2007 Southern California Wildfires,” states the proposal by California Public Utilities Commission Administrative Law Judges S...

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The Buzz

3 Nov 2017


The former California Public Utilities Commission president is taking a power walk down memory lane.  During a Wednesday talk, Mike Peevey summarized his new book coauthored with Diane Wittenberg detailing how Southern California’s smoggy skies launched the movement to green the state and Peevey’s role.

The current CPUC president and commissioners attempt to see through the changing utility business model fog...

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Peevey’s Walk Down Memory Lane

2 Nov 2017


A retrospective of the Golden State’s decades-long trail blazing effort to protect the climate by slashing air pollution and curbing sprawl was presented by California’s former head energy regulator mid-week.

If California were a nation, it would rank as the 6th largest economy in the world, but yet it produces just 1 percent of global greenhouse gases.

“Those numbers tell you a story,” Mike Peevey, former California Public Utilities Commission president, said at a Power Association of Northern California luncheon held  Nov...

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The Buzz

27 Oct 2017


While the question of whether or not to regionalize the grid is center stage, the buzz in the wings is increasingly about alternative approaches to creating a more robust western trading market.

Juice critiques options for how a western grid could be won. That includes comparing and contrasting a western expansion of the Southwest Power Pool into wind rich states versus CAISO growing east.

State energy regulators decided against ditching utility demand response pilot auctions although early test runs are far from impressive...

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CA Coalition Protests Proposed Coal & Nuke Subsidies

25 Oct 2017


Usually non-aligned California private and public utility, wind energy and merchant generator representatives are aligned in their opposition to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed rule to subsidize coal and nuclear power.

The group of California power industry stakeholders urge federal regulators to reject Perry’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on grounds that it’s a proposed solution in search of a problem...

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The Buzz

20 Oct 2017


Greening the grid is the talk of the town.

At the CAISO’s annual confab held this week, most bets are that a westward grid expansion will happen. Why? Because proponents insist it will promote renewables, which will decarbonize both the grid and economy, near and far.

Achieving that goal, however, requires paying new alternative resources for grid services that now are uncompensated. This bucks to the duck strategy seeks to balance out the newly appreciated renewable abundance with its scarcity...

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OPINIONATED: Binary Geothermal Gives PV a Run for Its Money

17 Oct 2017


By Paul Thomsen

In 2017, for the first time, the combined energy and capacity values of geothermal energy significantly exceeded the value of solar photovoltaic resources in California.

In the first quarter of 2017, geothermal’s wholesale energy value in Southern California was $13.50/MWh greater than solar PV. At the same time, utility estimates of marginal solar PV capacity ratings for the 2018 Resource Adequacy compliance period were between nearly 0 percent and 20 percent, resulting in a capacity value difference of up to $18...

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The Buzz

13 Oct 2017


Utility regulators approved $30 million for energy storage facility subsidies in disadvantaged communities, mostly for institutional systems.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s former chief administrative law judge is preparing to sue the agency in court on claims of a retaliatory firing after blowing the whistle on alleged collusion by the commission staff with Pacific Gas & Electric...

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Retalitory Firing Claim by CPUC Head Judge Heads to Court

12 Oct 2017


The State Personnel Board rejected a whistleblower complaint filed by the California Public Utilities Commission’s former head administrative law judge last month.

The Personnel Board’s rejection “is good news,” Daniel Siegel, attorney for Karen Clopton, former CPUC chief administrative law judge, told Current Oct. 11.  It opens the door to file a whistleblower suit in the Superior Court...

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The Buzz

5 Oct 2017


A top legislative staffer gives an insider’s look at the fallout from the governor’s ill-fated effort to push through a bill to create an integrated western grid in the waning days of the legislative session.

Electric transportation advocates flock to a meeting this week on the California Air Resources Board’s plan to give away $1.5 billion in incentives.

Juice examines the woes of independent generators...

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Fallout from the ISO Regionalization Effort

5 Oct 2017


Gov. Jerry Brown created considerable “collateral damage” by attempting to ram through legislation at the end of the last lawmaking session to allow California’s grid operator to expand to western states, said Kip Lipper, the Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León’s chief consultant.

“It was a drive by shooting,” said Lipper, noting he was expressing his personal view about Brown’s strong-arm tactics...

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The Buzz

29 Sep 2017


A future as predictable as a Ouiji board was a central theme at the Independent Energy Producer’s annual meeting this week amid mounting uncertainty from the changing role of utilities and the scarcity of contracts for generators.

Speaking of contracts, and lack of them, utility regulators this week nixed a deal between Southern California Edison and NRG for the Elwood natural-gas-fired plant in Goleta...

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The Buzz

15 Sep 2017


A quick gut and amend revived grid regionalization legislation that caused a mad scramble among legislators, lobbyists and wide array of interest groups. Then mid-week, Assemblymember Chris Holden, the author of the six day-old legislation, slammed on the brakes.

Less hectic and more successful was the advance of a budget trailer bill divvying up $1.6 billion of carbon cap-and-trade revenue.

A few blocks away, with no controversy, the CA Energy Commission awarded several million dollars in grants to fund multiple projects to advance alternative technologies, from biomass using dead and dying trees to a battery project aimed at desalinating water...

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JUICE: PURPA’s CA Purpose

13 Sep 2017


Congress may gut the federal law requiring utilities to buy power from qualifying solar, wind and other alternative energy projects. Is that a big deal for California?

Not really—if looking through a California-only lens.

When viewing the issue from a Western perspective, however, significantly weakening or eliminating the must buy provisions of the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 becomes a bigger deal...

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The Buzz

8 Sep 2017


California’s heat wave sparked new historical peak power loads in Southern California and came close to topping the state’s all-time record demand for electricity.

Meanwhile, wildfires caused minor damage to the state’s power system, but brought no major consequences.

Despite ongoing calls by some for lawmakers in Sacramento to enact last-minute grid regionalization legislation, no amendments have been offered to any bill as time is running out...

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CA Exodus from Federal Advisory Roles

6 Sep 2017


California is steadily losing its voice when it comes to federal energy and environmental policy as the Trump Administration either alienates or removes Californians from various advisory committees and delegations in Washington.

In the latest move, The Trump Administration notified Carl Zichella Sept. 1 that he would not be reappointed to the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee...

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The Buzz

31 Aug 2017


A week that began with record heat and a near record demand for power ends even hotter with a forecast of a new all-time record peak demand for electricity in California. The grid operator calls for conservation. PG&E calls for flashlights.

Decentralized solar energy coupled with storage and smart controls can lower the cost of maintaining the grid and provide a basis for an evolution to resilient microgrids, heat or no heat, according to report for Sonoma Clean Power...

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