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The Buzz

14 Jun

A House Energy panel zeros in on federal legislation and tactics to resolve the troubling issue of long-term storage of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. Lawmakers also grapple with how to consolidate onsite spent fuel in 121 communities, including in Southern California and Sacramento. The day before, another House Energy & Commerce subcommittee tells […]

U.S. Senate Energy Committee Aims to Curb Wildfires

14 Jun

To coincide with the start of this year’s wildfire season, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) held a June 13 hearing to assess wildfire threats, including from grasslands and excess fuels in forests in Alaska, California and across the U.S. Murkowski, Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee chair, warned of the “proliferation of disease and insect […]

House Debates Nuclear Waste Bills

13 Jun

A House Energy & Commerce subcommittee June 13 debated how to restart the stalled effort to remove and consolidate stranded high-level radioactive waste kept onsite at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Rancho Seco in Sacramento and at 119 other sites across the nation. Three federal bills aiming to consolidate waste from nuclear plants were […]

Shorts

13 Jun

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee backed extending the time renewable gas projects can tap into state incentives covering 50 percent of their interconnection costs this week. On a 14-0 vote, the panel approved SB 547 by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego). The bill extends by five years to Dec, 31, 2026, the date by […]

House Energy Puts GHGs & Storage Center Stage

12 Jun

The growing importance of assessing the greenhouse gas impacts of natural gas project permitting and better integrating distributed energy and energy storage into the wholesale market was stressed this week by a House Energy & Commerce Committee subpanel. The June 12 hearing of the Energy Subcommittee focused on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s policies and […]

CEC Okays $70 M in Grants & Contracts

12 Jun

The California Energy Commission on a series of 3-0 votes approved nearly $60 million in grants for alternative energy projects, including battery, bioenergy, food production energy efficiency and photovoltaic installations on farms. Almost another $10 million in clean energy project agreements also got the green light. The grants approved during the CEC’s June 12 meeting […]

CAISO Calls A Flex Alert

12 Jun

The grid operator asked for voluntary conservation efforts Tuesday afternoon and evening as the heat wave drove up power demand. Triple digit temperatures in Sacramento, San Jose, San Bernardino and many other regions of California on June 11 prompted residents to crank up air conditioners, pushing up energy usage to 42,739 MW at 5:23 p.m. […]

Undercurrents

11 Jun

With temperatures set to soar last weekend, Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power to 21,000 customers in Butte and Yuba counties for safety reasons at about 9:00 p.m. on June 8. In addition to safety shutoffs in the Sierra Foothills, PG&E turned off power to about 1,700 customers in Napa, Solano and Yolo Counties […]

JUICE: Sailing to Grid Regionalization

11 Jun

The announcement by California’s transmission operator that it will become the regional coordinator, not only in its territory, but across big parts of the western grid beginning July 1 generated few headlines. However, the California Independent System Operator becoming the new high wires reliability cop on the beat from Northern Mexico to Canada is a […]

S&P Pressures Sen. Wildfire Panel on Strict Liability

11 Jun

The Senate Select Committee on the Governor’s 2019 Report: Wildfires & Climate Change was warned that the credit rating agencies would further downgrade the investor-owned utilities if the state’s strict liability standard applied to utility equipment-sparked wildfires remained on the books. Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) waived a letter from Standard & Poor’s during a […]

Montali Rules FERC Has No Say over PG&E Power Deals

10 Jun

A federal bankruptcy court judge ruled in Pacific Gas & Electric’s favor on who controls the more than $40 billion in PG&E’s renewable and gas power purchase agreements. Judge Dennis Montali held that his court, not federal energy regulators, has say over the multi-million dollar deals signed by PG&E. The utility is in the midst […]

The Buzz

30 May

This week is all about measures to reduce the impacts of utility-sparked wildfires in California. In the midst of all the smoke, CPUC president Mike Picker says he’ll soon retire. Earlier, he and other state energy regulators approve the investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risks from their equipment. But, the CPUC notes, this is […]

CPUC President Headed Out the Door

30 May

California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker announced he will be retiring as early as the beginning of July of this year. The often rumpled Picker quipped that initially he thought he’d postpone leaving the commission until he was forced to buy a new business suit. Instead, Picker said he would leave the agency following […]

CPUC Signs Off on New Power Shutoff Rules

30 May

State energy regulators this week adopted a decision aimed at reducing the impacts of private utilities stopping electricity flows across power lines during risky wildfire conditions. Approved May 30, the decision includes protocols to improve utilities’ reporting and notification of when it decides to de-energize power lines to reduce the risk of sparking wildfires ahead […]

Utility Wildfire Plans Approved With Some Caveats

30 May

The California Public Utilities Commission May 30 approved investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risk under SB 901, as expected. “Approval of these plans is just a first step,” said Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen at the CPUC’s meeting this week. “We are learning as we go along,” added Commission President Mike Picker. The plans, said […]

Wildfire Panel Calls for Redoing Utility Legal & Financial Rules

30 May

The legal standard for finding utilities at fault for sparking wildfires, as well as for determining how much of their wildfire expenses can be recovered from ratepayers, are in serious need of overhaul, according to a draft report by the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost & Recovery. The executive summary of the report, released May […]

Shorts

29 May

The California Public Utilities Commission May 30 approved lifting the direct access cap in investor-owned utility territories by 4,000 GWh. There is a long list of large energy users seeking to receive power from direct access providers since it was capped after the 2000-01 energy crisis.  CPUC President Mike Picker said the additional direct access […]

CPUC Rejiggers Utility Cost Recovery Te$t

28 May

A California Public Utilities Commission decision proposes a new cost recovery reasonableness yardstick to determine the extent of ratepayer-funded cushioning of private utilities facing huge wildfire liabilities to keep them financially healthy and operating safely. Or in the alternative, the financial stress test is to evaluate the impact of requiring utility customers to pay for […]

Opinionated: Solar+Storage Challenges Gas Peakers

28 May

By Fereidoon Sioshansi Gas peakers have been around well before the recent rise of renewables made them even more indispensible. How else could grid operators fill in the void created by the vanishing solar generation when the sun sets at the end of the day or when wind stops spinning the wind turbines’ blades? And […]

Undercurrents: PG&E Ratepayer Advocates Fail to Get Official Status

28 May

Updated May 29 The federal bankruptcy court judge handling Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy case rejected creating a formal ratepayer committee. If  approved, it would have required the utility to pay the committee’s legal tab. “Wall Street bankers will be calling the shots, demanding a ratepayer bailout to keep PG&E profitable,” Mark Toney, The Utility […]