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The Buzz

15 Sep 2017

A quick gut and amend revived grid regionalization legislation that caused a mad scramble among legislators, lobbyists and wide array of interest groups. Then mid-week, Assemblymember Chris Holden, the author of the six day-old legislation, slammed on the brakes.

Less hectic and more successful was the advance of a budget trailer bill divvying up $1.6 billion of carbon cap-and-trade revenue.

A few blocks away, with no controversy, the CA Energy Commission awarded several million dollars in grants to fund multiple projects to advance alternative technologies, from biomass using dead and dying trees to a battery project aimed at desalinating water...



13 Sep 2017

Congress may gut the federal law requiring utilities to buy power from qualifying solar, wind and other alternative energy projects. Is that a big deal for California?

Not really—if looking through a California-only lens.

When viewing the issue from a Western perspective, however, significantly weakening or eliminating the must buy provisions of the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 becomes a bigger deal...


The Buzz

8 Sep 2017

California’s heat wave sparked new historical peak power loads in Southern California and came close to topping the state’s all-time record demand for electricity.

Meanwhile, wildfires caused minor damage to the state’s power system, but brought no major consequences.

Despite ongoing calls by some for lawmakers in Sacramento to enact last-minute grid regionalization legislation, no amendments have been offered to any bill as time is running out...


CA Exodus from Federal Advisory Roles

6 Sep 2017

California is steadily losing its voice when it comes to federal energy and environmental policy as the Trump Administration either alienates or removes Californians from various advisory committees and delegations in Washington.

In the latest move, The Trump Administration notified Carl Zichella Sept. 1 that he would not be reappointed to the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee...


The Buzz

31 Aug 2017

A week that began with record heat and a near record demand for power ends even hotter with a forecast of a new all-time record peak demand for electricity in California. The grid operator calls for conservation. PG&E calls for flashlights.

Decentralized solar energy coupled with storage and smart controls can lower the cost of maintaining the grid and provide a basis for an evolution to resilient microgrids, heat or no heat, according to report for Sonoma Clean Power...


JUICE: Voluntary 100% Renewable Programs Lack Traction

30 Aug 2017

Community choice and utility programs offering customers all solar energy or 100 percent mixed renewable power are about as popular as wall flowers.

The uptake rate of consumers voluntarily paying community aggregators and private utilities for all solar or a mix of clean power is in the low single digits. It is as low as a fraction of 1 percent of customers to up to 3.7 percent.

The state’s first community energy aggregator, Marin Clean Energy, offers its customers 100 percent local solar energy for a 30 percent premium above its 100 percent renewable program...


The Buzz

25 Aug 2017

State utility regulators okayed a shift in the peak pricing period to later in the day for San Diego Gas & Electric customers. Industry advocates warn it erodes the economic advantages of rooftop solar.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gets an education about how the grid operates. A Department of Energy staff report he requested out of concern that renewable energy could create blackouts by forcing closure of traditional baseload power plants finds his fear is unfounded...


CPUC Okays New SDG&E Peak Period

24 Aug 2017

State energy regulators unanimously approved the second phase of San Diego Gas & Electric’s 2016-19 general rate case, which includes a shift in the time-of-use peak period and off peak rates. The redesign is part of SDG&E's allocation of its approved triennial revenue requirement.

“Time-of-use rates acknowledge we have an eclipse every day,” Mike Picker, California Public Utilities Commission president, said Aug...


The Buzz

4 Aug 2017

How big a role electric vehicles and distributed solar roofs play in California will shape future energy demand. The California Energy Commission found that getting 1.7 million EVs on the road in a decade could drive up demand, but be offset by more solar rooftops and storage.

Bolstering that forecast are big bucks now flowing into the Golden State to support a growing EV market.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finally has a quorum...


The Buzz

28 Jul 2017

The California Independent System Operator seeks to widen the route to the state’s wholesale electricity market for demand response.

Microgrids promise benefits, but first the California Energy Commission says numerous speed bumps must be removed to make them more commonplace.

The grid operator seeks to head off the potential for sudden loss of large amounts of solar power on the grid due to the way solar plant inverters react to transient variations in frequency on high voltage transmission lines...


The Buzz

21 Jul 2017

The more things change, the more they don’t stay the same, Mike Picker, California’s head utility energy regulator tells a legislative panel. That includes the greening of the state’s energy supplies causing a flux in the grid, but with less impact than expected.

In greater flux is the fate of the proposed Puente power plant slated for Oxnard.  Support for alternative resources rises along with opposition to licensing the gas-fired project pending before the Energy Commission...


The Buzz

14 Jul 2017

The governor’s carbon cap-and-trade renewable legislation passes through a Senate panel after a six-hour hearing in which environmental justice activists and local and regional air districts denounced the measure. The oil company-friendly bill package was introduced Monday.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade deal appears to be more about cementing his legacy than it is about improving the atmosphere, concludes this week’s Juice column...


Opinionated: NREL at 40-It Started With a Desire to Harness the Sun

11 Jul 2017

By Wayne Hicks and Don Gwinner

May 3, 1978, fell on a Wednesday, but it was Sun Day as well. President Jimmy Carter, who had designated the date to highlight the potential of solar energy, spent part of the afternoon visiting an office park in Golden, Colorado. It was there, 10 months earlier that the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) opened.

The oil embargo of 1973 was one impetus for the United States to consider establishing a laboratory to explore non-petroleum energy options...


The Buzz

7 Jul 2017

Taking the “dis” out of disadvantaged communities was center stage for lawmakers and regulators this week.  Reversing the trend of rising climate emissions and co-pollutants in poor local neighborhoods was the focus of a joint legislative Climate Change Policy panel.  Meanwhile, the CPUC zeroed in on making environmental justice  energy programs just.

The Utilities & Energy Committee passed bills to give customers more data access and green the peak load...


JUICE: China & CA Build the World We Want

3 Jul 2017

Early in this decade, China was busy pursuing a plan to maximize its coal resources by building giant “coal bases” in its inland areas where the mineral is mined. I detailed the plan in a series of articles for Inside Climate News in 2014.

China aimed to use its vast coal deposits, widely viewed as “money in the ground,” to produce electricity, gasoline, and synthetic natural gas far from the nation’s major population centers along its eastern coastal plain...


The Buzz

30 Jun 2017

Fireworks will have to wait until next week’s holiday as there were barely sparklers at the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

Regulators okayed moving to revise or redo the unpopular charge on community choice aggregators said to spread out the cost of utility ratepayer departures. Some sparks were generated by the CPUC’s approval of a higher state supply cushion and increased local capacity needs for 2018...


JUICE: The Art of Emissions Warfare

28 Jun 2017

Bay Area air regulators last week backed away from fighting the oil lobby head on. They did not vote to cap regional oil refineries’ greenhouse gas emissions as promised.

The move surely was in response to pressure from the governor who doesn’t want a direct confrontation with the powerful oil industry while pushing legislation to extend California’s carbon cap-and trade program.

Gov. Jerry Brown needs a two-thirds vote to extend until 2030 the state’s carbon trading program, which covers the combative petroleum industry...


The Buzz

22 Jun 2017

Cap-less in San Francisco is this week’s key feature. Bay Area air regulators rejected approving a first-in-the-nation ceiling on regional oil refineries’ greenhouse gas emissions because it would allow a big increase in climate change pollution.  The proposed cap before the board was significantly revised the day before the June 21 meeting, resulting in a vote to put off deciding how and whether to limit the largest source of stationary carbon emissions in the region...


Opinionated: Transformation at The Grid’s Edge

19 Jun 2017

By Fereidoon Sioshansi

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Defense Secretary, referring to developments following the Iraq invasion famously said, in war, “Stuff happens,” suggesting that much of what happens is unpredictable and not necessarily pleasant. Similarly, in the electric power sector these days, stuff is happening – generally characterized by buzzwords including industry transformation, grid modernization and developments at the grid’s edge – broadly referring to the interface between the distribution network and customers’ premises, appliances, devices, distributed generation, storage, sophisticated energy management systems, electric vehicles, etc...


The Buzz

16 Jun 2017

The California Public Utilities Commission adopted this week requirements for gas utilities to reduce methane leaks and improve worker training. The approval of “best practices” to control methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that’s also explosive, counters a recent move by the federal government to reverse similar requirements set by the Obama Administration.

In the state capitol, lawmakers are digging in on a course toward a low-carbon economy in California...