The Buzz

2 May 2019

PG&E’s first quarter earnings this year are far from rosy, but not as grim as expected. Earnings take an expected hit from wildfire, bankruptcy and safety expenses, which PG&E hopes to more than recoup from energy regulators and ultimately ratepayers.

Southern California Edison’s parent earnings rise but that doesn’t stop its CEO from whining that state energy regulators are not giving the utility all it needs in the face of billions of dollars of liability and expected profits. Its earnings also don’t factor in its current general rate case revenue because the CPUC has yet to issue a final decision, with the proposed one giving it less than it desires.

Pipeline accidents are rising instead of falling because the responsible federal agency has failed to meet federal safety mandates going back to 2011. The new PHMSA administrator says his agency will strive to do better and that easing up the convoluted cost-benefit rule would help a lot.

The CPUC staff’s definition of customer “harm” under its proposal setting ground rules for private utilities to recover wildfire liability costs from ratepayers makes intervenors see red. One warns the agency is heading off a cliff like Wile E. Coyote.

A proposed decision finds PG&E’s, Edison’s and SDG&E’s wildfire mitigation plans for this year comply with legislative mandates. But, its guidance document makes clear that satisfying statutory requirements does not automatically mean cost recovery.

Private utility rates in California, like gas prices here, exceed the national average.  After doing some rough math because a cumulative tab for private utility ratepayers is MIA, this week’s JUICE column warns we in the Golden State are nearing the breaking point.

The Editors


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