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The Buzz

4 Jun 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to reduce wildfire threats and safety outages is half empty or half full, depending on your perspective. While the CPUC President says she is optimistic about the improvements in the 2020 plan, she has doubts about it being successfully implemented. In spite of the concerns, none are raised about its multi-billion dollar price tag during a Senate Energy & Utilities Committee hearing...

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The Buzz

28 May 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s huge debt package to get it out of federal bankruptcy court by the end of June as directed by state legislation.  

Moving on a parallel track is legislation setting the stage for California to seize PG&E’s gas and electric assets. Putting the utility under the auspices of a new state nonprofit, Golden State Energy, is in the event the utility collapses under the weight of its debt load or sparks another massive wildfire...

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JUICE: Doubts about PG&E Promise to Exit Bankruptcy Sans Rate Hike

26 May 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric’s $58 billion borrowing plan to exit bankruptcy is required to be rate neutral. Ratepayers are not supposed to pay an extra dime for the Chapter 11 proceedings under the law creating a $21 billion wildfire fund, AB 1054.

Protecting ratepayers from paying for this second bankruptcy, which roughly doubles PG&E’s debt, will not be easy. It will require the vigilant oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission over the next several years...

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The Buzz

21 May 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission vote on Pacific Gas & Electric’s massive reorganization plan gets waylaid by an improper communication.

The CPUC's proposed decision on the plan, now set for a May 28 vote, approves most but not all of the pending financing to get PG&E out from under massive wildfire claims. It does not include huge PG&E fees for outside lawyers and accountants...

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Guest Juice: Blockchain for Bitcoin and DER

18 May 2020


by Wayne Hicks

A common vision for the future of California and the nation’s energy grid involves homeowners selling unused power generated from rooftop solar panels to others in their communities, and working together to help ensure the reliability, resiliency, and security of the power grid everyone uses.

Sounds great in theory. But how can the grid manage such complex energy transactions at scale?

Several emerging solutions to this opportunity rely on blockchain technology...

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The Buzz

14 May 2020


The massive hole in the upcoming state budget caused by the pandemic does not keep Gov. Gavin Newsom from adding funds to protect against wildfires and its fallout.  It is another story for climate protection, however.

Covid-19 also is responsible for destroying huge numbers of jobs in energy efficiency, renewables and other alternative energy sectors inside and outside of California. The Golden State sees a loss of 100,000-plus jobs, more than a fifth of those lost nationwide as of the end of April...

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Juice: Brass Knuckles

12 May 2020


Metal fighting devices placed on a person's knuckles “concentrate a punch’s force by directing it toward a harder and smaller contact area,” increasing the harm to the intended target, according to Wikipedia.

The Trump Administration has popularized the use of the functional equivalent of these thuggish fighting tools. They also appear back in fashion at some of our investor-owned utilities...

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The Buzz

7 May 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission staff releases a draft resolution that finds big holes in the private utilities 2020 plans for reducing wildfire threats. But it recommends they be approved.

Pacific Gas & Electric shareholders are on the hook for nearly $2 billion for numerous fires the company sparked in 2017 and 2018. The presiding Commissioner removes a $200 million fine because of PG&E’s financial obligations and is backed by his fellow regulators...

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Utility Safety Plans Riddled with Deficiencies, Wildfire Safety Division Says

7 May 2020


California Public Utilities Commission staff detailed numerous gaps in how the three investor-owned utilities plan to address wildfires this year in draft findings released May 7.

The proposed resolution by the Commission’s Wildfire Safety Division found the plans of the major electrical utilities “provide no discussion of how the chosen portfolio of initiatives will allow the utility to achieve its goals for reducing [public safety power shutoffs] impacts...

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The Buzz

30 Apr 2020


Lawmakers’ mission when back in Sacramento will be economic recovery. In the meantime, live energy bills are whittled down largely to ones that fund alternative power and transportation sectors and create jobs to help the damaged state economy. Also in the active legislation bucket is legislation to reduce the impacts of safety shutoffs.

A bill creating an unpleasant buzz would give an expensive, large pumped storage project near Joshua Tree a leg up...

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Juice: Beyond Diesel Backup Generation and Blackouts

28 Apr 2020


The use of clean-fueled microgrids to keep power flowing to vulnerable people and critical services—from safety to water supply—during upcoming fires and outages was the talk of the town. Unfortunately, the talk led to little action on installing these types of projects in high fire threat areas in California before wildfires start this year.

Pacific Gas & Electric has contracted for 300 MW of temporary diesel powered backup generation to ensure electricity powers critical resources, community resource centers and medically vulnerable customers during shutoffs...

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The Buzz

23 Apr 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission seeks ways to ease the suffering of ratepayers and alternative energy companies and their workers struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

After months of controversy, East Bay Community Energy votes 10-5 to reject taking nuclear power from PG&E. The nuclear power is a hot political potato for the East Bay but not the big hydropower PG&E is offering...

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The Buzz

17 Apr 2020


State energy regulators unanimously agree to minor reductions in the bills of the ratepayers of the state’s two largest utilities. The California Public Utilities Commission votes for this no cost step advancing the climate dividend to alleviate financial pressures caused by the fallout of COVID 19.

This dividend is often called a “climate credit.” While it lowers utility bills, it is much more like a refund or deposit of money ratepayers already paid to cover carbon control costs...

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California’s Climate “Credit” for Dummies

14 Apr 2020


Editor’s Note: This is the third of a new Current series explaining the fundamentals of energy terms. With it, we hope to pull back the curtain on terms of art used in California utility regulation.

Updated April 16

Residential ratepayers of California’s two largest utilities are set to receive roughly $36 of climate "credit" on their power bills early under action taken by utility regulators...

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The Buzz

9 Apr 2020


The Energy Commission approves city ordinances that beat state building efficiency rules. It applauds California cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

The Commission also continues to dole out millions of dollars in grants at its first remote business meeting to promote cleaner food and beer production, offshore wind, renewable gas and safer natural gas infrastructure...

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The Behind-The-Meter Frontier

9 Apr 2020


Your home could also be your power plant, according to an April 7 article in Wired Magazine. It highlights a community housing project in Colorado that’s experimenting with advanced software that tracks the units’ solar power and directs it to where it’s needed—relaying it from those with surplus PV output to those that need more power. A new book delves into the nitty gritty of similar and more broad-based production, use, storage and trading of behind-the-meter alternative energy technologies...

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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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