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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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The Buzz

12 Dec 2019


Zero emissions trucks, both electric and fuel cell models, will be coming to California in large numbers under a rule the California Air Resources Board debuts this week.

Utility regulators allege SoCal Gas committed hundreds of safety violations at its Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field as the utility attempts to quash a subpoena in the investigation.

In a move that may be the first of its kind in the world, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power says it’s pursuing a plan to run a natural gas power plant on renewable hydrogen to replace a coal-fired plant in Utah...

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The Buzz

5 Dec 2019


A carbon tax is the talk of the town this week. Republican members of a House panel insist it would be a cost without a benefit because global action is critical. In response, their Democratic brethren chastise them for not partaking in the ongoing UN climate talks.

Solar-powered microgrids paired with battery storage can keep power flowing when electricity from the grid is shut off because of wildfire risks...

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The Buzz

21 Nov 2019


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the California ISO’s energy storage compliance filing. It also again rejects on a 2-1 vote climate analyses of liquefied natural gas export projects.

A U.S. Senate panel calls for the full Senate to approve the Republican FERC nominee. The silence remains deafening on the fate of the Democrats pick, much to the consternation of committee members from that party...

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The Buzz

24 Oct 2019


Shutoffs and more shutoffs more shutoffs this week because of dangerous winds and fires. Pacific Gas & Electric reports a transmission tower with broken jumper near the latest Sonoma fire.

In the midst of blazes, major fire risks and public outrage over outages, regulators approve collecting $10.5 billion from utility ratepayers for a legislatively mandated wildfire fund. Whether it cost a half a billion or nearly a billion dollars a year hinges on whether PG&E qualifies...

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The Buzz

26 Sep 2019


So. Cal Gas and SDG&E get whopping increases in their 2019-21 general rate cases. State energy regulators say the hefty revenue hikes are needed to fully fund the gas and electric companies’ safety programs.

It is a long shot but bondholders try again to inject their plan for paying off PG&E’s massive debts at the U.S. bankruptcy court.

Earlier this week, bankrupt PG&E revises its reorganization plan to incorporate an $11B settlement with the vast majority of insurance companies...

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The Buzz

5 Sep 2019


California’s energy agencies begin developing a plan to achieve the monumental task of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Southern California Edison files a massive rate hike request with the California Public Utilities Commission, aiming to boost its revenue by 32 percent.

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power faces a showdown with its union over a plan to close down gas-fired power plants and replace them in part with a large solar power plant coupled with battery storage...

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The Buzz

29 Aug 2019


A newly amended bill that would make PG&E greener financially at ratepayers’ expense is floated. But, it may be headed for a crash landing.

Another legislative action, one seeking a Constitutional Amendment, would make nuclear energy eligible for green status under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. The proposal seeks to bolster the financial prospects of the state’s sole nuke...

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The Buzz

15 Aug 2019


The California Public Utilities Commission says goodbye to President Mike Picker. The five commissioners also approve new decade-long energy efficiency targets and SDG&E’s $100 million heavy-duty vehicle electrification program.

The California Independent System Operator gets a CEC pat on the back for being the new Reliability Coordinator. The Energy Commission also adopts impressive new rules to save water and energy...

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The Buzz

8 Aug 2019


Two of California’s major utilities show reasonable profits in their second quarter results and bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric says it expects to show a profit when it releases its financial results.

Meanwhile, independent power generators post largely ho hum financial statements, although NextEra stands out with earnings that shine.

In a sign of better days to come, Moody’s revises its outlook for San Diego Gas & Electric from negative to positive after the state moves to set up a utility wildfire insurance fund...

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The Buzz

18 Jul 2019


Editor's Note: California Current will be taking its two-week summer break beginning today, July 19. Story posting will resume the week of Aug. 5.

The California Public Utilities Commission gets a new President after Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Marybel Batjer to the post this week. Batjer will take over an agency that has lost much of its credibility with lawmakers and the public, the week’s Juice column observes...

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The Buzz

11 Jul 2019


Gov. Gavin Newsom successfully gets the Legislature to pass utility wildfire liability legislation, though lawmakers express reservations that it will do little more than buy time for yet unknown solutions.

This week’s Juice column opines that distributed energy may be needed to end utility-sparked wildfires, at least in fire prone areas of the state.

Inaction on processing intervenor compensation claims at the California Public Utilities Commission is threatening to drive the state’s premier ratepayer advocacy group into insolvency...

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The Buzz

27 Jun 2019


The California Public Utilities Commission announces it's considering slapping penalties on PG&E for sparking huge wildfires in the fall of 2017.

Earlier, state regulators unanimously approve a utility financial stress test with much consternation. They warn that the legislative mandate unfairly requires ratepayers to bail out utilities even if unacceptable behavior led to their wildfire liability...

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