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The Buzz

6 Aug 2020


Months of speculation as to who would be the CA grid operator’s new chief ends with the naming of Bonneville Power Administration head Elliott Mainzer. He says he wants to build on the success of the Energy Imbalance Market, which BPA joins next year.

A nasty dispute between state utility commissioners and the executive director gets exposed this week. Director Alice Stebbins charges that she is being pushed out for trying to clean up the CPUC’s act, specifically in the areas of unrecovered utility fines...

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The Bill for Energy Shifts from the Office to Home

4 Aug 2020


The increased hours people are spending at home have driven up residential power demand in California, and with it, utility bills. Late summer with its higher temperatures only makes the situation worse. The highest increase in home energy use reported among the major private and public utilities was 15%, in the southern part of the state.

Meanwhile, electric and gas system demand has fallen because of the drop in commercial and industrial load...

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The Buzz

31 Jul 2020


A trio of Bay Area community energy providers in PG&E territory announce big plans for home battery backups. An agreement reached with Sunrun includes 20 MW of distributed solar that will charge batteries in 6,000 dwellings across three counties.

The parent companies of Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric release earnings reports. Edison sees lower earnings but much of that is because of higher earnings from an approved general rate case the year before...

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Bay Area Aggregators Launch Big Home Battery Backup Plan

30 Jul 2020


Three Bay Area community choice energy organizations announced a deal with Sunrun for 20 MW of new behind-the-meter solar plus battery backup in their territories to keep electricity flowing during shutoffs. 

Under this novel agreement announced July 30, East Bay Community Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy will promote the Sunrun residential projects to their customers, including to those financially and physically vulnerable...

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The Buzz

23 Jul 2020


Energy storage is surging in California, with much of it being built next to solar plants. The grid operator board approves giving these complimentary co-located projects a market boost so they can fill the gap in peak supplies over the next three years.

After many years, dozens of stakeholders reached an agreement on removing PacifiCorp’s Lower Klamath River hydro dams. Then the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission changed the terms of the deal, not to PacifiCorp’s liking...

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Grid Managers Ease the Way for Growing Energy Storage Paired w/ Solar

23 Jul 2020


The California grid operator agreed to allow owners of power plants that include both solar and batteries to operate the two sources in tandem.

The California Independent System Operator board approved the change July 22 in response to the surging trend of pairing energy storage with solar projects.

It is aimed at filling the 3,300 MW gap at peak hours, in part due to retiring natural gas-fired power plants...

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Sacramento Makes Bold Move to 100% Clean Power by 2030

20 Jul 2020


The Sacramento Municipal Utility District board voted unanimously the evening of July 16 for an extremely aggressive carbon neutral power target: 100% in just ten years. Previously the utility had aimed for 2040. California’s all out carbon neutral electricity mandate is set for 2045.

“The threat of climate change is too great for anything short of bold and immediate action,” Chris Brown, the Sacramento Climate Coalition's coordinator, said...

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The Buzz

16 Jul 2020


PG&E sparked last fall's Kincaid wildfire, CalFire reveals.

State regulators launch a cutting edge framework for figuring how big a hit combined utility bills are for low income ratepayers. The scrutinized tab will include electricity, gas, telecommunication and water bills.

More than two years after the near-devastating crumbling of the Oroville dam spillway, federal energy regulators vote unanimously to strengthen dam safety rules...

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A 21st Century Distribution System Will Provide Economic Recovery

15 Jul 2020


In response to the Covid-19 economic downturn, energy sector stakeholders are calling for a national transmission system and grid modernization but California should take a state-centric approach.

“Local level economic recovery can come from distribution system modernization,” V. John White, Center for energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies executive director, told Current. The benefit of investments in renewables after the 2008 recession exceeded the costs, which are now far less...

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The Buzz

10 Jul 2020


As wildfires spread, the governor increases the state budget to add more than 850 firefighters. Given the double whammy of fire threats and the pandemic, firefighters are directed to take necessary safety steps, including wearing masks and social distancing.  The same rules will apply to those evacuated by the state.

How to ensure the financing of the electrification of low income dwellings is the focus of a new report...

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Tribal Focus in Latest $30+M Round of CEC Storage Combination Grants

8 Jul 2020


The California Energy Commission continued to award grants to innovative energy storage projects and microgrids, including two novels ones that will use discarded electric vehicle batteries to store solar power.

Awards unanimously approved this week, totaling more than $31 million, aim to help ensure California slashes carbon emissions and attains carbon neutrality within 15 years.   

Of the grants, $15 million went to native tribal organizations and communities...

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The Buzz

2 Jul 2020


Before the start of the fireworks, Pacific Gas & Electric announced it funded most of the $6.75 billion cash payment to fire victims. It also lined up another $12 billion to pay insurance claims as well as cities impacted by utility-sparked fires that burned from 2015-2018.

Hydrogen fuel to lower transportation emissions, California’s biggest source of air pollution, is put on an Energy Commission pedestal this week...

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CEC Continues Steady Push for Hydrogen

2 Jul 2020


The California Energy Commission’s continued funding for research and development to create emissions-free hydrogen fuel for transportation and energy storage is beginning to show results. 

“Adoption is happening, but the supply is thin,” Wayne Leighty with Shell Energy said during a July 2 California Energy Commission workshop. “Don’t worry about getting it right, but getting it started...

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The Buzz

25 Jun 2020


California sets the nation’s first statewide mandate to electrify medium- and heavy-duty trucks beginning in 2024. State energy regulators and utilities will play key roles in the success of the transition away from polluting diesel trucks to electrified ones by getting needed charging infrastructure built.

The California Public Utilities Commission expands the local resources adequacy market...

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CA Gas Utilities Produce Cutting Edge Clean Biogas

23 Jun 2020


SoCal Gas and Pacific Gas & Electric announced June 22 a significant breakthrough in a new electrochemical technology that converts carbon dioxide in raw biogas to renewable natural gas that can be put into pipelines.

It is a “critical improvement in the science of upgrading waste emissions to renewable gas,” according to the utilities. This technology also is commercially competitive.

The utilities collaborated with Opus 12, a clean-energy startup that began at Stanford University...

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Court Approves PG&E $60B Financing Scheme, Company Issues More Debt

23 Jun 2020


The U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirmed Pacific Gas & Electric’s $58 billion reorganization to resolve massive claims—from wildfire victims and other creditors—10 days ahead of a legislative June 30 deadline. That is the final date for accessing the $21 billion utility ratepayer and shareholder funded fire trust, which PG&E and the court have kept their eyes on.

Judge Dennis Montali approved the Chapter 11 plan Saturday, June 20...

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The Buzz

18 Jun 2020


Landowners' legal challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s practice of allowing land to be seized for a pipeline before deciding whether to reconsider a granted permit forces FERC to ease its rehearing rules. However, the one dissenting commissioner says the new rule is a hollow victory for aggrieved property owners.

Private and public utilities in California join with ones in Oregon and Washington to advance a plan creating an electric charging corridor for big rigs running from San Diego to Seattle...

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Humboldt Towns Protected Against Shutoffs, Locals Say the Change is Overdue

16 Jun 2020


When power is deliberately shut off to avoid fires amid high wind in Pacific Gas & Electric territory, 20 cities along the North Coast won’t have to worry. That is because PG&E reconfigured its 163 MW natural gas fired power plant in Humboldt County so it can disconnect from the grid and continue supplying the region. The cities powered by the islanded plant include Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville and Fortuna, as well as some tribal communities...

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The Buzz

11 Jun 2020


After months of few energy items on the California Public Utilities Commission business meeting agendas, this week’s one is dense, and action packed.

After honoring the death of George Floyd, the five utility regulators approve Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to install diesel-fueled generators to provide power during safety outages. The CPUC also signs off on the utilities’ 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plans that are riddled with problems, and come with a $15 billion price tag...

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JUICE: Falling Off the Clean Energy Wagon

9 Jun 2020


Updated June 11

Since the start of this century, California has been working to wean the electricity sector off addictive and harmful fossil-fueled generation. A homegrown 12-step recovery program has produced impressive strides. But key players, and Pacific Gas & Electric in particular, are allowed to fall off the wagon.

State energy regulators approved June 11 PG&E’s installation of diesel powered-backup systems for use during threatening fire conditions...

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