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The Buzz

15 Jun 2018

Grid regionalization is back on the legislative agenda in Sacramento. A freshly amended bill apparently would implode the state’s renewable portfolio standard program.

Interest in the hydrogen highway heats up in both California and Washington. This week’s Juice column finds that the cost of electric power is a key barrier to hydrogen energy right now, but that could change as the California Public Utilities Commission examines how to modify electricity rates to potentially advance the clean fuel...


JUICE: Cruising the Hydrogen Highway

11 Jun 2018

Fuel cell vehicles, powered by hydrogen made from water and renewable power, have long been the Holy Grail when it comes to creating a clean energy economy.

After decades of effort to push the technology toward commercial reality, fuel cell vehicles are beginning to gain traction with car-makers, energy companies, state officials, and most importantly drivers.

California now sports 5,000 hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, including cars and public transit buses...


The Buzz

8 Jun 2018

The feisty Air Resources Board knocks hard on federal regulators' door. The aim is to have a serious discussion with the Trump Administration about plans to knock out California’s tighter greenhouse gas controls for autos.

Other potential bad news for the Golden State is the mega bucks it will cost if Trump et al succeed in baling out coal and nuclear power plants.

At the state level, looming wildfire liability for Pacific Gas & Electric leads it to seek a postponement of its 2020 general rate case filing...


Juice: Picker’s Picks

5 Jun 2018

Editor's note: Like Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala "picked" the band's most energetic concerts for release as albums in his "Dick's Picks" recordings, California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker picks the best resources to release energy to the Los Angeles basin's grid to keep the area rockin'.

A proposed decision to deny Southern California Edison ratepayer recovery for 125 MW of local demand response, energy storage and energy efficiency projects in the constrained Los Angeles Basin would be counterproductive if approved...


The Buzz

31 May 2018

More than $1 billion in electric truck and car charging funding gets the green light.

The California Public Utilities Commission approves the investor-owned power utilities spending $738 million of ratepayer money on EV charging infrastructure, particularly for electric truck and bus chargers.

That authorization follows California air quality regulators directing $423 million to subsidize the clean up of big rig trucks and other heavy-duty diesel vehicles...


The Buzz

24 May 2018

The California Independent System Operator weighs increasing payments, primarily to battery-based storage. Multiple revenue streams are being considered for energy storage that provides transmission and other services in its markets.

Critics warn that lack of an honest dialogue with the Air Resources Board over excess carbon allowances will cause the state to miss its target for cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels...


The Buzz

17 May 2018

Utility regulators get big push back on a proposal authorizing the investor-owned electric utilities to spend almost $600 million of ratepayer money on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Southern California Edison complains it has zippo financial appeal.

Federal energy regulators order Pacific Gas & Electric to settle complaints over $500 million in alleged overcharges in last year’s transmission rates...


JUICE: Timing

15 May 2018

Timing is everything.

Thus, it is noteworthy that it’s optimal timing to increase the amount of hydropower imports from the Bonneville Power Administration into California. This option has been talked about for a few years, but now the needles on California’s legal, policy and resources compasses point northwest.

If the capacity of the lines carrying Bonneville hydro into the state is increased, it would reduce greenhouse gases and help meet California’s carbon reduction goal...


The Buzz

10 May 2018

Utility regulators decide to take extra time to review a first of its kind spending plan by the state’s power utilities to help get electric vehicle chargers installed on a widespread basis for heavy-duty electric trucks and buses. They also delay action on an a pricey eight-year energy efficiency plan.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s transmission planning process doesn’t get any respect on Capitol Hill this week...


The Buzz

4 May 2018

Trump and friends' effort to dismantle climate protection and alternative energy laws are keeping California lawyers busy, although legislative overkill has weakened some challenges. But harm from the federal administration’s rejiggering of formulas that will turn the pluses of lower carbon emissions and energy efficient appliances into minuses is closer at hand.

Back in San Francisco, California energy regulators call for a plan to protect monopoly utilities and the traditional grid from rising levels of customer-owned solar systems and community choice aggregation...


The Buzz

27 Apr 2018

Legislation to raise payments to needed gas power plants in California, to increase the use of home electric air and space heating, and to make school reps eligible for intervenor compensation make the cut. Midweek, the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee sends these measures on to the next committee.

Measures to bolster energy storage and electric bus deployment are among the bills the Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee passes...


The Buzz

19 Apr 2018

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agrees to rules increasing transparency on above market payments grid operators make to uneconomic resources, and getting interconnection agreements in gear. They also open the door to input on their problematic natural gas pipeline permitting process.

In addition to shining a light on “uplift” payments for resources that can’t recover their operating cost, FERC in a related action gives the thumbs down to the California grid operator’s proposed capacity procurement mechanism tariff...


Utility Wildfire Cost Recovery Bill Blasted for Overreach

18 Apr 2018

Private utility wildfire liability is a huge concern at the state capitol.

During an April 17 hearing, legislators grappled with how to protect utilities from overwhelming liability in the face of impacts to ratepayers, third-party distributed energy and the growing number of people living near the risky wildland-urban interface.

“We here in the Senate know there are some complex issues” with liability insurance and impacts on ratepayers and affected communities, said Sen...


The Buzz

13 Apr 2018

Consideration of a ballot measure to mandate that San Diego Gas & Electric serve only green energy to the City of San Diego if it wants a renewed franchise agreement was sent back to go.

Leading gubernatorial Republican candidates challenge the recently enacted gas tax hike and the bullet train. Democratic governor hopefuls want to further green Gov. Jerry Brown’s work.

The California Energy Commission gives the green light to “drought-proofing” a desert power plant and tightening efficiency regulations for portable electric spas and battery chargers...


Clean Tech: My Dream All-Electric Granny Flat

9 Apr 2018

I am exploring how to make a granny flat my wife and I plan to build all-electric. We want to eliminate emissions from burning natural gas and take advantage of our solar rooftop.

Part of the plan may include upsizing our solar system to cover the additional square footage we’ll add.

So with a few home appliance upgrades and all electric addition, we may have a zero net energy home, or at close to it...


The Buzz

5 Apr 2018

Clashing recipes to determine how much community choice organizations must pay the private utilities for their stranded power purchase contracts land in the California Public Utilities Commission’s kitchen.

The launch of California’s expected biggest community choice program is not fully baked. The Clean Power Alliance of Southern California's June debut is limited to two cities and the unincorporated areas of one county...


Climate Roundup: Enviro Justice Groups Seek to Protect Low Income Weatherization

3 Apr 2018

Updated April 5

The governor’s spending proposal to eliminate the Low Income Weatherization Program's budget is opposed by a coalition of environmental justice advocates.

The program, administered by the Department of Community Services & Development, has provided energy efficiency and solar installations, and utility bill savings in struggling communities.

It is funded by the California Air Resources Board’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund...


The Buzz

29 Mar 2018

Facing massive liability lawsuits for its potential role in igniting wildfires that scorched Santa Rosa and other Wine Country communities last fall, Pacific Gas & Electric argues it’s not subject to claims based on the legal doctrine of inverse condemnation.

With hot weather just around the corner, state regulators order SoCal Gas to quickly fill up its depleted natural gas storage fields to make sure there’s enough fuel for power plants this summer...


SoCal Gas Ordered to Fill Gas Storage Fields

28 Mar 2018

SoCal Gas is under a state regulatory order to accelerate the storage of natural gas to prepare for summer demand because company pipelines remain out of service. The closed pipelines, which have been offline for months, hamper import capacity into the Los Angeles metro area.

California Public Utilities Commission Executive Director Alice Stebbins called the need to fill natural gas storage facilities in Southern California “urgent...


Opinionated: The Long & Winding Road to End Nuclear Power in California

19 Mar 2018

By The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

The end of commercial nuclear power in California approaches, a little more than half a century after it began.

Of all the promises and boasts made by the early proponents of nuclear energy, their claim of “too cheap to meter” would eventually prove to be its undoing—at least here in California. The journey towards that conclusion stretched over a decade, and was the work of dozens of organizations and countless individuals...