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OPINIONATED: The Sorry State Of Demand Response, Smart Meters & Dumb Tariffs

22 Jan 2018

 By Fereidoon Sioshansi

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct an annual survey of demand response and advanced metering in the U.S. The 12th edition of the report was released in Dec. 2017 and anyone looking for major revelations is likely to be disappointed.

Not much happens from year to year in the slow moving utility sector—and worse—

sometimes things move in the wrong direction...


The Buzz

18 Jan 2018

The California grid operator plans to move into the western reliability coordination market. And, it plans to do so at a steep discount.

An independent group of scientists finds that gas storage fields are needed now, but might later be converted to store clean fuels or captured carbon dioxide.

Forthcoming federal standards aim to improve cybersecurity for the grid, but regulators say much more is needed...


Bill May Increase Diablo Closure Costs

17 Jan 2018

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) plans to introduce legislation to restore all or part of the $85 million in proposed mitigation funds for San Luis Obispo area communities that the California Public Utilities Commission excluded in its Jan. 11 closure decision for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Monning has not yet determined the amount or the source of the funds. He told Current he was looking at various sources, including Pacific Gas & Electric ratepayers and shareholders, the state’s general fund, and the Diablo decommissioning trust fund...


The Buzz

11 Jan 2018

A controversial decision eliminating energy efficiency funding and slashing ratepayers’ tab in the Diablo nuclear plant closure plan is approved 5-0 by state energy regulators. The 2024/25 closure date may advance, however, because of the loss of PG&E customers and higher plant maintenance costs.

Also Jan.11, the California Public Utilities Commission authorizes the three electric utilities to spend $43 million on electric transportation...


CPUC Delays LA County Gas Hookup Moratorium

10 Jan 2018

Updated Jan. 11, 2018.

Strong opposition from local businesses and elected officials pushed the California Public Utilities Commission Jan. 10 to postpone enacting a gas hookup moratorium in Los Angeles County for new commercial and industrial buildings through the end of March.

Fearing gas shortages because of outages of three pipelines that supply the area, plus diminished storage capacity at the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility after a massive methane leak two years ago, the commission proposed the moratorium last month...


The Buzz

5 Jan 2018

A San Francisco lawmaker marks the legislative new year with a bill to put an end to gasoline-powered autos in California beginning in 2040.

Other state lawmakers at the start of 2018 seek to foreclose any possibility that electric utilities that spark wildfires could potentially recover associated costs from ratepayers. The state’s biggest utility says the bill could undermine the financial stability of the state’s power companies...


Juice: It’s a Happy New Year for Big Oil

2 Jan 2018

California environmental regulators are trumpeting their updated master plan for reducing greenhouse gases as “a template for other jurisdictions who are also committed to preventing the worst impacts of a warming planet.”

Yet, the California Air Resources Board’s latest “scoping plan” gives big oil a free pass. The rest—the electricity, natural gas, and other businesses sectors, as well as consumers—must pay the piper...


The Buzz

14 Dec 2017

Who will become the western grid operator: CAISO, Southwest Power Pool, or the new ISO elf?

State energy regulators tighten utility fire safety rules because of the “astounding” problem of wildfires, Mike Picker, CPUC president, says. During the same Dec. 14 meeting, the commission approves $100 million in annual subsidies to promote solar system installations on apartments.

Earlier in the last meeting of 2017, the commission postpones voting on the controversial decision cutting Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed funding for the closure of its Diablo Canyon nuke...


Opinionated: The Diablo Energy Efficiency Opportunity

12 Dec 2017

Editor's Note: The California Public Utilities Commission was set to vote Dec. 14 on the decision to reduce funding for Pacific Gas & Electric to close its Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant from $1.76 billion to $172 million. However,  the commission announced at the start of the Thursday business meeting that a vote on the proposed closure terms for the 2,240 MW plant will be held until Jan. 11.

By Mark Shahinian

“Doubling” energy efficiency in existing buildings as required by Senate Bill 350 means utilities, and the California Public Utilities Commission, must radically accelerate development of next-generation efficiency programs...


The Buzz

8 Dec 2017

Energy agency heads insist Los Angeles County should freeze natural gas hookups for new homes and businesses because of possible fuel shortages this winter. Builders vigorously object that it will worsen the area’s housing crimp. The CPUC president blasts the messenger.

Pacific Gas & Electric proposes replacing Dynegy’s 40-year old Oakland power plant with local alternative power supplies...


Proposed Gas Hookup Moratorium for LA Draws Opposition

7 Dec 2017

State energy agencies are pressing Los Angeles County to freeze gas hookups for newly constructed homes and businesses in the face of feared “gas service interruptions” this winter. Three natural gas pipelines are out of service and the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field’s has limited capacity to inject gas into the local pipeline system.

“Los Angeles County has made it clear that it does not support the continued operation of Aliso Canyon,” wrote the heads of the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Dec...


The Buzz

30 Nov 2017

State energy regulators are united in their opposition to saddling San Diego Gas & Electric ratepayers with nearly $400 million in costs incurred for three big fires in 2007 ignited by SDG&E lines. Two members of the California Public Utilities Commission, however, have reservations given multiple contributions to the big fires that led to deaths, huge amounts of scorched earth and destroyed homes...


Juice: Blowin in the Dry Wind

28 Nov 2017

Four years ago, San Diego Gas & Electric power lines sparked wildfires that burned some 200,000 acres in San Diego County. The fires, which began in the eastern area of the county, were quickly blown westward by severe Santa Ana winds. They wound up destroying 2,500 homes and structures as they burned through the dry chaparral landscape. By the time they were extinguished, seven people had died and almost a half million people had to be evacuated...


Negawatt Providers Seek a Mandate

21 Nov 2017

California regulators and policymakers say they want to see increases in demand response to reduce peak load and help balance out intermittent renewable resources. Despite the lip service, the amount of negawatt capacity reaped from the residential and commercial/industrial sectors has fallen since 2011, particularly from third-party aggregators working with the investor-owned utilities.

“There is a downward trajectory, except in the area of utility baseload interruptibles,” said Mona Tierney-Lloyd, EnerNoc’s senior director of western regulatory affairs...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...