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The Buzz

20 Jan 2017


Extending the carbon cap-and-trade program continues to be the talk of town.  New bills seek to reauthorize it beyond 2020 as its legal legitimacy is the focus of an appeals court argument. Meanwhile, legislative leaders say that trading or taxing is on the table.

The president of the California Public Utilities Commission during an hour-long talk announced that customers—both business and residential—may eventually be able to choose who they buy electricity from, just like in the good old deregulation era...

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CPUC Head Sees CA Joining Retail Choice Movement

19 Jan 2017


Allowing more businesses but also residential electric utility customers to choose their retail power provider may soon be an option in California, said California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker Jan. 19.

Speaking at the commission’s first meeting of 2017, Picker said that in the coming year the CPUC will launch an effort to carve out a new role for investor-owned power utilities in which they simply transmit, distribute, and bill customers for power, but no longer procure electricity on their behalf...

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The Buzz

13 Jan 2017


After years of fearing growing levels of renewable energy would destabilize the grid, requiring  lots of new gas-fired power plants to fill in power voids when the wind or sun drops, it was out with the old and in with the new for the grid operator. This week, the California Independent System Operator embraced studies saying that adding smarty pants inverters to renewables would help even out their ebb and flow...

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Navajo Coal Plant May Shutdown Soon

11 Jan 2017


The 2,250 MW coal-fired Navajo power station in Arizona is being hammered by low natural gas prices and possible loss of another partner, increasing the odds its could be shuttered by the time its lease expires on Dec. 23, 2019.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power discontinued its ownership interest in the polluting three-unit plant in 2015. Its 477 MW share was bought by Salt River Project...

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The Buzz

6 Jan 2017


There’s been a lot of noise of late over the San Onofre nuclear plant, particularly over reopening the questionable $4.4 billion closure settlement.  The nuke’s Southern California utility owners’ attempted to pull a fast one and delay and shorten the meet and confer schedule. A state regulatory judge heeded stakeholders’ cries and rejected Edison’s and SDG&E’s motions.

On the state renewables front in 2015, public and private utility portfolios were all over the map...

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San Onofre Closure Deal in Rough Waters

5 Jan 2017


The planned reopening of the controversial San Onofre Nuclear Station's $4.4 billion closure settlement was rocked by a regulatory filing seeking a postponement until a decision was made on Southern California Edison’s damage claim against the maker of the faulty steam generators.

Just before press time, the early January filing by Edison and minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric to put off scheduled resettlement meetings with stakeholders was rejected by a California Public Utilities Commission judge...

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The Buzz

16 Dec 2016


Editor’s Note: This is the final weekly issue for 2016.  The next issue of Current will be published Jan. 6, 2017. We wish you a happy and safe holiday season.

This week, California Public Utilities Commission members Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval bid adieu at the final CPUC meeting of the year. Before their departure, they voted along with their fellow regulators to approve PG&E’s $130 million electric vehicle charging station program, which is about a third the size of the its initial EV charging infrastructure pilot...

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CPUC Unanimously OKs Largest Private Utility EV Charging Program

15 Dec 2016


In their final meeting of the year and the last one for outgoing commissioners Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval, state energy regulators approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s hefty but scaled back pilot electric vehicle charging program.

At a cost to ratepayers of $130 million, it is the most expensive and largest of the three private utility programs, noted Commissioner Carla Peterman, who authored the decision adopted 5-0 on Dec...

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Regulators Tell Utilities to Buy Distributed Resources

15 Dec 2016


The California Public Utilities Commission began testing the resources waters,moving Dec. 15 to have distributed energy replace traditional centralized power plants and transmission lines.

Commissioner Mike Florio, the lead commissioner on the approved decision, called the action “the next big step forward” regarding distributed energy, though he admitted that it’s “not the end of the road...

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The Buzz

9 Dec 2016


Editor’s Note: Current’s annual holiday break will be the final two weeks of December. The last issue of this year will be published Dec. 16. The first issue of 2017 will be published on Jan. 6. 

A day-long meeting at the California Public Utilities Commission zeroed in on the Diablo dilemma.  How much clean replacement power will be needed in eight years given loss of ratepayers and greater energy efficiency and distributed solar systems is a key issue in the proceeding on the planned retirement of California’s last operational nuclear power plant...

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State Plans to Develop EV Grid Integration Communications Standard

8 Dec 2016


California utility regulators are poised in the coming year to decide on utility investments aimed at integrating a growing number of electric vehicles into the grid. The utility plans, due next month, are to include ways charging can be interrupted during demand response events and also allow the grid to take power from onboard batteries as needed.

To accomplish that, the grid operator, utilities, electric vehicle chargers, electric vehicles, vehicle owners and others must be able to communicate seamlessly with one another...

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The Buzz

2 Dec 2016


The California appeals court upheld the California Public Utilities Commission’s decision approving a long-term 500 MW gas plant deal between San Diego Gas & Electric and the Carlsbad project.  The enviros brought the legal challenge in an attempt to have more renewable resources to meet the local capacity need.

Playing a large role in green energy are rare metals, which come from a complex, opaque and little understood supply chain across the seas...

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JUICE: Working Off that Aliso Canyon Flab

29 Nov 2016


Editor's Note: This article was revised Nov. 30 after the Department of Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Resources announced that it will hold a hearing on the safety of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility at a date to be determined in January 2017.

 

Southern Californians may have to break out their sweaters.

With falling temperatures, home owners in the Southland are cranking up their heaters while the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field remains inoperable after a massive methane leak...

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The Buzz

18 Nov 2016


Dear Readers:

Because Thanksgiving is next week, we will post the week’s stories online on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Additionally, we will combine next week’s issue with the following week’s publication, and post a single PDF online, covering Nov. 21-Dec. 2.

 

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power board gave the green light to a 1MW subsidized solar program slated for a low-income community to help fill in the solar rooftop gaps in the sunny region...

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JUICE: CA Green Ain’t the New Black

17 Nov 2016


Last week’s national election was demoralizing for clean energy advocates and many others but it also had the inverse effect of galvanizing state and local leadership.

A few days after the election, Gov. Jerry Brown pledged to “protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time, devastating climate change.” He also announced that the number of countries, states and cities committed to a subnational climate protection agreement, complementing the United Nations’ Paris climate pact, grew to 165 this week...

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The Buzz

10 Nov 2016


Counteracting the national trend, California elected Democrats to the state Legislature pledging to continue the state’s drive to a decarbonized economy and reaffirming its commitment to climate protection. Californians also sent lawmakers to Congress who are committed to clean energy.

This week’s Juice column remembers the late Tom Hayden, who back in the 1970s helped launch the state’s long efforts to foster solar energy in a report that concluded the technology would boost the economy and create new jobs...

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JUICE: California Solarizing

10 Nov 2016


The late Tom Hayden is known for his anti-war and civil rights activism, and nearly two decades in the California Legislature. Less known and as important are his contributions to launching and reviving the state’s drive toward a low-carbon energy economy, particularly with the rise of climate change deniers.

Hayden’s work included developing a groundbreaking report released in 1978 on the jobs potential of solar power development in California, specifically solar hot water and space heating...

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The Buzz

4 Nov 2016


Western guns aim at the CA grid operator’s regionalization governance proposal. The showdown is over the fact that the Golden State, which has the biggest demand, would get the biggest say, turning others bullets into blanks.

Far from the Dakota pipeline protests, JUICE highlights a protest led by a Native American chief at San Onofre over extending the time the radioactive waste stays onsite...

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CAISO Western Grid Governance Proposal Is Non-Starter for Coal Heavy States

3 Nov 2016


 

Fault lines between California and other states over how to govern a regionalized grid and wholesale power market were revealed in comments submitted to the California Energy Commission last week in response to the latest governance structure proposed by the grid operator.

At issue is the California Independent System Operator’s plan for weighted voting, which would give the Golden State effective veto power over any initiative or decision made by the Western States Committee...

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The Buzz

28 Oct 2016


Reliability is poised to trump ecosystem protection in San Diego at least for a while. The old Encina coastal power plant is not expected to be put out to pasture as planned, with its  once-through cooling phase-out sure to be extended. Meanwhile the grid operator eases replacement power requirements for generating facilities that suffer unexpected outages.

California’s 50 percent renewable standard is garnering loads of attention, both in and outside the state...

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