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The Buzz

5 Dec 2019


A carbon tax is the talk of the town this week. Republican members of a House panel insist it would be a cost without a benefit because global action is critical. In response, their Democratic brethren chastise them for not partaking in the ongoing UN climate talks.

Solar-powered microgrids paired with battery storage can keep power flowing when electricity from the grid is shut off because of wildfire risks...

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The Buzz

21 Nov 2019


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the California ISO’s energy storage compliance filing. It also again rejects on a 2-1 vote climate analyses of liquefied natural gas export projects.

A U.S. Senate panel calls for the full Senate to approve the Republican FERC nominee. The silence remains deafening on the fate of the Democrats pick, much to the consternation of committee members from that party...

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The Buzz

24 Oct 2019


Shutoffs and more shutoffs more shutoffs this week because of dangerous winds and fires. Pacific Gas & Electric reports a transmission tower with broken jumper near the latest Sonoma fire.

In the midst of blazes, major fire risks and public outrage over outages, regulators approve collecting $10.5 billion from utility ratepayers for a legislatively mandated wildfire fund. Whether it cost a half a billion or nearly a billion dollars a year hinges on whether PG&E qualifies...

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The Buzz

26 Sep 2019


So. Cal Gas and SDG&E get whopping increases in their 2019-21 general rate cases. State energy regulators say the hefty revenue hikes are needed to fully fund the gas and electric companies’ safety programs.

It is a long shot but bondholders try again to inject their plan for paying off PG&E’s massive debts at the U.S. bankruptcy court.

Earlier this week, bankrupt PG&E revises its reorganization plan to incorporate an $11B settlement with the vast majority of insurance companies...

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The Buzz

5 Sep 2019


California’s energy agencies begin developing a plan to achieve the monumental task of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Southern California Edison files a massive rate hike request with the California Public Utilities Commission, aiming to boost its revenue by 32 percent.

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power faces a showdown with its union over a plan to close down gas-fired power plants and replace them in part with a large solar power plant coupled with battery storage...

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The Buzz

29 Aug 2019


A newly amended bill that would make PG&E greener financially at ratepayers’ expense is floated. But, it may be headed for a crash landing.

Another legislative action, one seeking a Constitutional Amendment, would make nuclear energy eligible for green status under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. The proposal seeks to bolster the financial prospects of the state’s sole nuke...

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The Buzz

15 Aug 2019


The California Public Utilities Commission says goodbye to President Mike Picker. The five commissioners also approve new decade-long energy efficiency targets and SDG&E’s $100 million heavy-duty vehicle electrification program.

The California Independent System Operator gets a CEC pat on the back for being the new Reliability Coordinator. The Energy Commission also adopts impressive new rules to save water and energy...

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The Buzz

8 Aug 2019


Two of California’s major utilities show reasonable profits in their second quarter results and bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric says it expects to show a profit when it releases its financial results.

Meanwhile, independent power generators post largely ho hum financial statements, although NextEra stands out with earnings that shine.

In a sign of better days to come, Moody’s revises its outlook for San Diego Gas & Electric from negative to positive after the state moves to set up a utility wildfire insurance fund...

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The Buzz

18 Jul 2019


Editor's Note: California Current will be taking its two-week summer break beginning today, July 19. Story posting will resume the week of Aug. 5.

The California Public Utilities Commission gets a new President after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Marybel Batjer to the post this week. Batjer will take over an agency that has lost much of its credibility with lawmakers and the public, the week’s Juice column observes...

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The Buzz

11 Jul 2019


Gov. Gavin Newsom successfully gets the Legislature to pass utility wildfire liability legislation, though lawmakers express reservations that it will do little more than buy time for yet unknown solutions.

This week’s Juice column opines that distributed energy may be needed to end utility-sparked wildfires, at least in fire prone areas of the state.

Inaction on processing intervenor compensation claims at the California Public Utilities Commission is threatening to drive the state’s premier ratepayer advocacy group into insolvency...

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The Buzz

27 Jun 2019


The California Public Utilities Commission announces it's considering slapping penalties on PG&E for sparking huge wildfires in the fall of 2017.

Earlier, state regulators unanimously approve a utility financial stress test with much consternation. They warn that the legislative mandate unfairly requires ratepayers to bail out utilities even if unacceptable behavior led to their wildfire liability...

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JUICE: Clean Car & Air Chaos

25 Jun 2019


If President Donald Trump follows through on his threat to yank California’s authority to enact automotive emissions and fuel efficiency standards that are tighter than federal requirements, the work of the Golden State and utilities here to promote electric vehicles and develop charging infrastructure will be jeopardized.

Not only will California's climate change goals be threatened, but so will the de-carbonization efforts of 13 other states and the District of Columbia, which have adopted California's clean car standards...

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The Buzz

14 Jun 2019


A House Energy panel zeros in on federal legislation and tactics to resolve the troubling issue of long-term storage of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. Lawmakers also grapple with how to consolidate onsite spent fuel in 121 communities, including in Southern California and Sacramento.

The day before, another House Energy & Commerce subcommittee tells Republican federal energy regulators that assessing greenhouse gas impacts of FERC project approvals is paramount, as is increased integration of distributed energy...

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JUICE: Sailing to Grid Regionalization

11 Jun 2019


The announcement by California’s transmission operator that it will become the regional coordinator, not only in its territory, but across big parts of the western grid beginning July 1 generated few headlines. However, the California Independent System Operator becoming the new high wires reliability cop on the beat from Northern Mexico to Canada is a big deal.

The latest move is another significant step towards CAISO becoming a regional grid operator...

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The Buzz

6 Jun 2019


As lawmakers contemplate a legislative course to deal with the mounting financial implications of wildfires, it’s increasingly evident that utility ratepayers will have to shoulder billions of dollars of costs.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders appear to rule out eliminating strict liability for utilities that spark wildfires, at least for now.

California’s developing all-electric building strategy could double natural gas bills for those who don’t replace their gas burning appliances, finds a new California Energy Commission study...

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The Buzz

30 May 2019


This week is all about measures to reduce the impacts of utility-sparked wildfires in California. In the midst of all the smoke, CPUC president Mike Picker says he’ll soon retire.

Earlier, he and other state energy regulators approve the investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risks from their equipment. But, the CPUC notes, this is only step one.

The CPUC also adopts protocols for utility power shutoffs to improve their coordination with emergency safety agencies and notifications to impacted customers...

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Opinionated: Solar+Storage Challenges Gas Peakers

28 May 2019


By Fereidoon Sioshansi

Gas peakers have been around well before the recent rise of renewables made them even more indispensible. How else could grid operators fill in the void created by the vanishing solar generation when the sun sets at the end of the day or when wind stops spinning the wind turbines’ blades?

And with natural gas plentiful and cheap–especially in the U.S .– their place in the energy mix appeared safe...

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The Buzz

16 May 2019


It is better late than never for Southern California Edison, which finally gets its 2018-2020 rate case approved. State energy regulators okay a revenue requirement for 2018 of nearly $5.2 billion. Over the three-year period, Edison will reap a 4 percent increase, not counting recovery of its wildfire safety costs.

Utility regulators this week also refine standards for injecting biomethane into natural gas pipelines and approve several biomethane contracts for SoCal Gas...

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Opinionated:To CPE or Not To CPE

14 May 2019


By Steven Kelly

After many years of work, the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this year finally adopted a multi-year resource adequacy program to help ensure grid reliability. Now, the CPUC is considering additional changes to the adopted framework, particularly the insertion of a “central procurement entity” to mitigate the risk that the California Independent System Operator performs any resource adequacy procurement...

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The Buzz

9 May 2019


Lawmakers may need to create a $40 billion wildfire risk pooled insurance fund plus take other actions to deal with crushing wildfire liabilities and expenses faced by utilities as large power rate increases loom.

Amid rising revenue, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes budget boosts for the CPUC and grants to help communities plan for power shutoffs when high winds threaten to spark wildfires.

Meanwhile, utilities launch a new advertising campaign as they warn that power shutoffs when winds threaten wildfires will become routine...

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