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The Buzz

2 Apr 2020


The surge in residential energy use from millions of people ordered to stay home motivates energy regulators to lighten the financial burden of higher utility bills. They plan to advance the climate credit so they aren’t quite so high.

The same day, California’s head energy regulator insists on resolving PG&E's bankruptcy by the end of June. It appears that also includes the unrelated issue of interim rate recovery of almost $1 billion in 2019 wildfire costs starting in August...

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The Buzz

26 Mar 2020


Incessant telephonic disruptions don't stop state regulators from approving 25,000 MW of new clean energy projects to cut the sector’s emission to 46 megatons of carbon emissions by 2030. 

Also during their challenging public telephone business meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously okays $200 million in building decarbonization pilots.

It also extends a multi-million dollar contract for outreach to diverse communities to inform them of  upcoming time-of-use residential rates...

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The Energy Industry in the Time of COVID-19

24 Mar 2020


The energy industry has instituted operational changes to slow the spread of the new coronavirus while staying focused on continuing “essential” services.

In addition, energy agencies are pulling back on enforcement in response to the Covid-19 contagion. Onsite agency investigations and audits have come to a stop. State and federal energy agencies also are granting filing and compliance extensions and waiving certain requirements...

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The Buzz

19 Mar 2020


The pandemic has slowed down solar projects but there is an unprecedented increase in new installed capacity in 2019. This year and future ones may be a different story but solar proponents expect solar capacity to keep rising in and outside California over the long haul.

Large intermittent renewable generation paired with storage provides more bang for the buck. A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report also notes that in California the total value of hybrid projects is roughly double that of stand-alone solar or battery facilities...

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OPINIONATED: Setting the Record Straight on SMUD’s Community Solar

17 Mar 2020


Editor's Note: SMUD responds to criticism of its Solar Shares program raised in a March 2 editorial by local solar advocate Dave Rosenfeld. SMUD’s community solar program was approved by the California Energy Commission last month. 

California’s 2019 Building Standards took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and included a requirement for the use of solar on all new home construction in the form of either rooftop solar or community solar...

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State and Federal Meeting Updates during Covid-19 Pandemic

16 Mar 2020


Updated Friday. Changes in italics.

The following are the latest changes to previously scheduled meetings, in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order limiting the number of people at gatherings, and local agency dictates.

The California Public Utilities Commission cancelled all its public hearings on increasing electric rates pursuant to Phase One of Southern California Edison's General Rate Case scheduled for March 17 through April 22...

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The Buzz

12 Mar 2020


The rising threat of the new coronavirus gets state and federal agencies in gear. 

A few days earlier, regulators and other energy entities don’t agree on how to respond. The state grid operator is the first to take major precautions, discontinuing its in-person meetings to thwart the possible spread of COVID-19 pathogens.

With no fanfare, the California Public Utilities Commission reaffirms its say over Pacific Gas & Electric's pricey Diablo Canyon tab...

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Opinionated: Boom in Electric Transportation Means SoCal Jobs

9 Mar 2020


In the 1990s, Southern California was lamenting the demise of its once thriving auto industry. But the rise of electric transportation in recent years has created a new boom, according to a report  recently issued by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.. And with that boom comes jobs, according to the report, titled “Economic and Workforce Impact Analysis of the Electric Mobility Revolution in Southern California,” formally released last week at Veloz, an electric vehicle forum in Sacramento...

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The Buzz

6 Mar 2020


State lawmakers ask the private utilities hard questions about the new wildfire mitigation plans' impacts on ratepayer pocketbooks and safety.

Legislators also introduce new bills to keep PG&E et al from writing off penalties for safety violations. Other measures seek to increase the flow of renewable resources into utility grids and vehicles.

To help close the gap between carbon emissions and the state's reduction goals, the California Energy Commission proposes spending nearly $400 million over three years, largely on clean cars and medium- and heavy-duty trucks...

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Opinionated: What Happened to SMUD?

2 Mar 2020


Editor's note: The California Energy Commission agreed to allow the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to use a controversial alternative method for complying with the

2019 building energy efficiency codes. The CEC standards require all new single homes to have solar rooftops. SMUD got permission to allow builders to invest in community solar in place of building homes with solar rooftops.

by Dave Rosenfeld

The California Energy Commission approved SMUD’s SolarShares proposal on Feb...

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The Buzz

28 Feb 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric is hit with a historic fine of $2.14 billion for igniting deadly wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018. It comes a few days after PG&E reports significant losses in its 2019 earnings report.

The private utilities in the southern half of the state fare far better. Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and SoCalGas all report healthy earnings for last year...

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The Buzz

20 Feb 2020


The West Coast’s first LNG export project looks like its headed for federal approval. This week, however, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission votes 2-1 to tentatively disapprove the Coos Bay project because of Oregon’s recent permit rejection. A majority of the federal energy regulators also reject the New York grid operator’s capacity market revisions,

undermining energy storage, renewables and demand response...

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The Buzz

14 Feb 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric offers its nuclear energy to community choice. But it is a hot potato, particularly for East Bay Clean Energy. Local green energy advocates give it a lot of heat for considering the matter.

Bets are that extracting lithium from the steamy brine of geothermal plants in the mineral-rich Salton Sea will become a viable industry. But, getting the needed quantity and quality of lithium for the growing battery market from this area faces hurdles, according to an Energy Commission meeting...

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Guest Juice: Is CA Trying to Kill the Community-Scale Generation Market?

10 Feb 2020


The community-scale market segment has been plagued by ongoing policy neglect, and otherwise poor policy choices. Will policymakers heed the track record of demonstrated failure and finally create new programs that address previous problems?

Ken Lund Flickr cc

California, long a progressive leader on renewable energy and climate change mitigation, has neglected a key market segment for renewable energy: the community-scale or wholesale distributed generation market...

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The Buzz

7 Feb 2020


State energy regulators pay lip service to California’s mandate for the energy sector to be 100 percent clean and then approve the replacement of a 50-mile natural gas pipeline in San Diego. But, the Sempra utilities’ $677 million cost estimate for the project is to be examined.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee takes aim at federal energy regulators for approving more natural gas projects than needed and ignoring greenhouse gas emissions and impacts to homes, farms and other property owners...

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The Buzz

30 Jan 2020


House Democrats produce a massive funding framework and bold climate neutral bill back to back. 

Also midweek, increasing climate protection to thwart hotter and more intense wildfires is the focus of a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing. The chief of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. adds his two cents.

The California grid operator continues to laud the pros of its growing Western real-time energy market...

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The Buzz

24 Jan 2020


FERC member Bernard McNamee bids adieu to the agency.

Whether to allow coastal power plants that use huge quantities of water to cool down is still at issue. Center stage are proposed extensions of the legal deadlines, set in 2010, for four plants along the Southern California coast.

Under an agreement between Pacific Gas & Electric and its bondholders, the utility plan to pay off its huge wildfire debt is the sole proposal before federal bankruptcy if new financing terms are met...

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Guest Juice: Energy Storage Prospects Rise with Fall in Renewable Costs

20 Jan 2020


By Wayne Hicks

An oft-repeated refrain—the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow—is sometimes seen as an impediment to renewable energy. But it’s also an impetus toward discovering the best ways to store that energy until it’s needed.

Declining costs in available technologies have propelled interest in energy storage forward like never before. The price of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by about 80% over the past five years, enabling the integration of storage into solar power systems...

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The Buzz

16 Jan 2020


State energy regulators give Southern California Edison the green light to collect $4.7 billion for projected 2020 energy costs during their first meeting of the year.

The California Public Utilities Commission also votes unanimously to dedicate most of the Self Generation Incentive Program rebates to energy storage in fire-stressed communities.

In addition, the commission approves launching a rulemaking aimed at ensuring natural gas systems are safe and reliable as the state transitions to a fossil fuel-light economy...

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The Buzz

9 Jan 2020


The start of the New Year brings bold federal and state clean energy and equity measures. It also brings closer a looming deadline for Pacific Gas & Electric.

There is a huge push to get PG&E out of bankruptcy by the end of June. Meeting that deadline will allow it to access the multi-billion dollar ratepayer- and shareholder-funded wildfire liability reserve account created by legislation...

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