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The Buzz

14 Mar

Southern California Edison equipment ignited the deadly Thomas Fire in 2017 in Ventura County, investigators find. Edison, however, maintains there were two separate points of ignition and it may not be responsible for both. California’s chief utility regulator tells lawmakers that the California Public Utilities Commission lacks expertise and capacity in utility fire safety regulation […]

Edison Started Thomas Fire in 2017, Investigators Find

13 Mar

Fire investigators March 13 found that two Southern California Edison power lines slapped together in Anlauf Canyon in Ventura County during a wind storm and started the devastating Thomas Fire in 2017. The utility had already admitted that it played some role in igniting the fire. However, in a statement issued late on Wednesday it […]

CPUC Weighs PG&E’s Future as Utility Reports 450 Safety Violations

13 Mar

As the California Public Utilities Commission considers how to potentially alter how Pacific Gas & Electric is structured and governed in a bid to improve public safety, energy industry players have put forth numerous suggestions, according to CPUC President Mike Picker. Testifying to the state Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee March 12, Picker said […]

Picker Says the CPUC Lacks Wildfire Safety Expertise

13 Mar

A state Senate panel dug into the California Public Utilities Commission’s capabilities to develop and enforce wildfire safety standards for electric utilities on March 12. It learned that SB 901 is unlikely to prove a panacea. In addition, the commission president told lawmakers that the agency charged with carrying out the law is “struggling” with […]

JUICE: Bankruptcy Basics

12 Mar

Pacific Gas & Electric’s unsurprising bankruptcy filing has rocked the energy utility industry, legislators and the state. Tens of billions of dollars are at stake, largely from what is now about 5,600 claims from wildfire victims. The amount of money and impact will soar if Southern California Edison also enters federal bankruptcy court. It faces […]

Undercurrents: Newsom Eyes New CPUC President

12 Mar

Updated March 14. Gov. Gavin Newsom is planning to shake up the California Public Utilities Commission, including appointing a new president of the commission, the Wall St. Journal reported March 11. A plan could be issued by the governor’s office in a matter of weeks, Newsom reportedly told legislators and analysts from S&P Global Ratings. […]

CEC Backs Battery System for Black Start Operations

12 Mar

The California Energy Commission March 12 cleared the way for NRG to install a 7 MW battery facility at its Marsh Landing power plant in Antioch. It will be used to provide needed power for black start operations at the plant. Last year the California Independent System Operator designated the 760 MW simple-cycle plant, which […]

Shorts

12 Mar

Updated March 14. A U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the federal bankruptcy court shall decide the fate of up to $42 billion in contracts Pacific Gas & Electric signed and may void. In late January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that it has concurrent authority over the fate of […]

Study Aims to Advance EV Charging Infrastructure

11 Mar

In an effort to support California’s goal of getting 5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, the California Energy Commission March 11 began a new effort to better assess how to bolster charging infrastructure. “The electric vehicle adoption rate has picked up in California,” said Kevin Barker, CEC’s deputy director of fuels and […]

San Bernardino County Restricts Renewable Projects

5 Mar

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors Feb. 28 acted to curb construction of new utility-scale renewable energy projects on about 1 million acres of desert land within county areas with community plans or zoned as rural living districts. Community-scale projects intended to serve local communities still would be allowed under the policy. The board […]

The Buzz

28 Feb

California’s investor-owned utilities, with the exception of Sempra Energy’s utilities, show big losses in 2018 due to billions of dollars of wildfire liabilities. In the state Assembly, lawmakers introduce an avalanche of bills, including two measures to get utilities to pay for new state-run wildfire insurance funds. Meanwhile, state Senators introduce a solar rights bill […]

Losses for Two Utilities Mount Due to Wildfire Liabilities

28 Feb

California’s investor-owned utilities and their parents, with the exception of Sempra Energy, got clobbered in 2018 by wildfire liabilities. Two of the utilities together had total losses of almost $7.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018. Moreover, the financial reports showed that more losses may lie ahead. Edison International: It lost $1.4 billion, or […]

Bills Would Create Utility-Funded Wildfire Loss Funds

28 Feb

Bills introduced in the Assembly last week would set up new state insurance funds. One measure seeks to get utilities to pay into a wildfire victims’ compensation fund and the other to require utilities to pay into a fund that would insure them against excess wildfire-related costs. AB 740 by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Marina Del […]

Cost of Wildfire Plans Ignites Calls for Reasonableness Reviews

27 Feb

Questions are mounting about the price tag and effectiveness of utility wildfire mitigation plans filed with the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this month. The plans filed by the state’s three major investor-owned utilities call for spending $3 billion or more a year of ratepayer money with the goal of preventing power lines from sparking […]

Utility Plans Will Prevent Few Wildfires, Fire Safety Experts Tell Lawmakers

27 Feb

As the California Public Utilities Commission begins reviewing electric utility wildfire mitigation plans questions are rising about how effective they’ll be at preventing wildfires. The CPUC continued its review this week, but in Sacramento fire safety experts told state lawmakers that utility power lines spark just 5 percent of the state’s wildfires. Ninety-five percent of […]

San Diego Moves Closer to Community Energy

26 Feb

San Diego’s City Council Feb. 25 voted to move forward with forming a community choice energy program in the state’s second largest city. The program will seek to hit a 100 percent renewable electricity target by 2035. “The best way to make us the greenest city in the nation is to give San Diegans a […]

Court Okays Aliso Canyon Settlement

26 Feb

A state court approved a $119.5 million agreement between the California Air Resources Board, SoCal Gas, and other parties requiring full mitigation of the massive methane leak that occurred in 2015 at the utility’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. “This agreement will mitigate the methane leak itself, and will have a positive impact across […]

Solar Rights Bill Gets Bipartisan Support

26 Feb

Last week, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff) introduced SB 288, which outlines the rights of California homeowners, schools, businesses, and farmers to make and store their own solar power without interference from utilities. The bill seeks to update outdated tariffs that make it financially unattractive to install solar systems […]

Bills Aim to Give Lawmakers Say in PG&E’s Bankruptcy

26 Feb

Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced three bills Feb. 22, one of which would require legislative approval of any rate increases for Pacific Gas & Electric, which filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of January. The other two measures are aimed at increasing the safety of the utility’s facilities to protect against wildfires. […]

Inside the Beltway: Green Jobs & Carbon Capture

26 Feb

Updated Feb. 27. It was the yin and the yang in Congress Feb. 27 as a committee of the Republican-controlled Senate held a hearing on carbon capture and sequestration and a panel in the Democratically-dominated House focused on green collar renewable energy jobs. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing on the […]