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The Buzz

7 Feb

Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric propose strengthening their wildfire risk reduction programs.  SDG&E’s plan is not as dense as the other two mitigation blueprints because it put in place many safety measures after devastating wildfires more than a decade ago. Bankrupt PG&E’s plan stands out. That includes […]

PG&E Files Wildfire Safety Plan, Warns Bankruptcy Could Interfere

7 Feb

The private utilities Feb. 6 filed their mandated plans for reducing wildfire threats from electric equipment. The plans filed by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric at the California Public Utilities Commission are required under last year’s wildfire risk reduction legislation, SB 901. Much of the focus is […]

House Climate Change Hearing Calls for Action

7 Feb

A newly configured House Energy & Commerce Committee held its first hearing on the environmental and economic impacts of climate change Feb.6. “We need to modernize and upgrade our infrastructure to ensure vital services like water, sewer, electricity, telecommunications, and transportation are more resilient,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Energy & Commerce Committee chair, during […]

Bankruptcy Watch: $1.5 B in PG&E Loans Okayed

6 Feb

The federal bankruptcy court gave Pacific Gas & Electric permission to tap into $1.5 billion in loans to fund utility operations for 13 weeks on Feb. 1. It is part of a larger $5.5 billion financing package PG&E lined up in late January with a series of big banks, including JPMorgan, Chase Bank, Bank of […]

Undercurrents: CEC Chair Says Adieu

6 Feb

Updated Feb. 6. Bob Weisenmiller, California Energy Commission chair, will leave his post Feb. 21. “This position has allowed me to preside over transformative policies aimed at addressing some of California’s key energy challenges, including the threat of climate change,” he stated Feb 6. Weisenmiller, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, has served as […]

PG&E’S 2018 Lobbying Budget Soared

6 Feb

In the midst of the intense legislative maneuverings last summer, Pacific Gas & Electric spent more than $6 million on lobbying lawmakers and another $168,000 pushing its agenda at the California Public Utilities Commission. The utility spent the money during the third quarter of 2018, according to the utility’s Secretary of State filings. For all […]

Shorts

5 Feb

Updated Feb. 6 Federal legislation to repeal the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles was introduced Feb. 6. It also would require that EV drivers pay into the Highway Trust Fund.  The “Fairness for Every Driver Act” was introduced by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works chair, and […]

Juice: Can CCAs Build a Resilient Energy System?

5 Feb

Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy is forcing California energy policymakers to grapple with the future of the energy utility business model. PG&E’s massive $30 billion liability for wildfires has led the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate how the utility might be broken up into smaller units that could avoid electric lines sparking fires and […]

SCE Gets Green Light to Recover $1B in Power Costs

31 Jan

Southern California Edison area electric customers will see a 5 percent increase in their bills this year due to the utility’s under collection of money to pay for energy bought in 2018. The California Public Utilities Commission authorized the utility Jan. 31 to collect an extra $983.8 million from those it distributes power to this […]

CPUC Takes Heat for Poor Utility Ratings & Safety

31 Jan

State lawmakers Jan. 30 grilled the head state energy utility regulator over what his agency was doing to bolster utility ratings and reduce wildfire risks during an Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee hearing. Committee Chair Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) warned California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker that the investor-owned utilities may become “un-investible” because of […]

SF Supervisors Eye Municipalizing PG&E System

30 Jan

Invoking the Green New Deal, San Francisco Supervisor Hilary Ronen Jan. 29 introduced legislation that could municipalize the power grid and natural gas system in the city. The action comes as Pacific Gas & Electric, which owns and operates those systems in the city, filed for bankruptcy. “”Their safety record is abysmal,” said Ronen, citing […]

Coalition Calls for Ending Natural Gas Use in Buildings

29 Jan

California energy regulators need to substantially revise their policies to make sure buildings become part of the solution to meeting the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas reductions goals instead of a roadblock, according to a series of white papers issued Jan. 29 by the Building Decarbonization Coalition. The key, according to the group, is to eliminate […]

Undercurrents: EIM Governance Changes

28 Jan

Updated Jan. 31. The Energy Imbalance Market’s Governing Body late last week began discussing potential changes to its governance structure. Specifically, the grid operator wants the EIM Governing Body to assume primary authority for “changes to generally applicable rules of the real-time market if the primary driver for the change is EIM,” according to a […]

Sea Level Rise Poses Increasing Risk for SDG&E’s System

23 Jan

Updated Jan. 24. San Diego Gas & Electric faces the risk of significant damage to its power and natural gas distribution systems by mid-century, with more potential damage at the end of the century as the climate warms, says a pair of reports prepared for the California Energy Commission. The damages could cost the utility’s […]

Undercurrents: Drawing the Unaffordable vs. Affordable Rate Line

22 Jan

The California Public Utilities Commission took its first step towards getting its arms around the cumulative impacts of its decisions on financially struggling ratepayers. “There is a lot of stake in this proceeding,” said Cliff Rechtschaffen, presiding commissioner, during the Jan. 22 CPUC workshop. He said at issue are the safety, reliability and affordability of […]

Climate Roundup: Natural Gas Use to Decline as Climate Warms

22 Jan

Global warming will drive electricity usage upward in California and natural gas use downward, according to a study for the California Energy Commission discussed Jan. 18. The report examined almost a billion bills for electricity and natural gas usage in California homes and correlated usage with weather conditions. It then projected how usage is likely […]

State Regulators Scrutinize Surging So Cal Energy Prices

16 Jan

Southern Californians are paying more for natural gas and electricity due to the aging and failing natural gas supply system run by SoCal Gas. Due to limited capacity to deliver gas to homes, businesses, and power generators, the price of gas in Southern California was 134 percent higher during the months of July through September […]

CAISO Soon to Become West’s Electricity Reliability Coordinator

15 Jan

California’s grid operator has entered agreements with 32 of 39 electricity balancing authorities in the West to begin providing reliability coordinator services this summer in place of Peak Reliability, the current provider. “After a year of intensive planning and coordination, the ISO will now focus on developing technology and integrating systems to meet our July […]

Shorts

15 Jan

The Department of Interior directed furloughed staff to work on oil and gas leases on federal lands without pay on the 26th day of the federal government’s shutdown. “National parks, museums, and federal offices are closed throughout the nation due to the President’s ongoing shutdown,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) noted Jan. 16. “But if you […]

Newsom Proposes Tempered Energy & Climate Change Spending

14 Jan

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first state budget proposal would make cuts from last year’s record spending on some energy-related programs, but overall would maintain funding for energy agency operations and staffing, even providing for some small staffing increases. Unlike former Gov. Jerry Brown, who heavily featured climate change expenditures in his annual budget messages, Newsom focused […]