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California’s Original EV Mandate

25 Jun

In 1990, the California Air Resources Board adopted what became known as California’s zero emissions vehicle mandate under a federal Clean Air Act waiver. CARB’s mandate required that by 1998, two percent of the passenger cars sold by automakers be battery electric vehicles, with the level rising to 10 percent by 2003. The aim of […]

The Buzz

20 Jun

Pacific Gas & Electric inspections of lines in fire-prone areas reveal that more than 260,000 corrective actions are needed to improve public safety. PG&E also announces a $1 billion settlement with local government agencies to reimburse them for wildfire-related expenses. A federal bankruptcy court judge now must approve it. Fire victims will be exempt from […]

Inside the Beltway: Lawmakers Clash on Auto Standards

20 Jun

Legislators and policy makers displayed wide differences regarding the future of automotive standards aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions June 20 during a joint hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Consumer Protection & Commerce and Environment & Climate Change Subcommittees. The panels delved into the Trump Administration’s plan to freeze Obama era standards modeled […]

PG&E Finds More than 260,000 Line Safety Issues

19 Jun

Recently completed safety inspections of Pacific Gas & Electric transmission and distribution lines in high fire-risk areas turned up 263,000 problems, the utility stated June 19. “The unmistakable message of the inspection results is that we as a company must do a much better job of making sure that we maintain our assets in a […]

House Democrats Push Pipeline Safety

19 Jun

A House panel is aiming to place new requirements on oil and gas pipeline operators and toughen federal enforcement standards as part of an upcoming reauthorization of the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for fiscal years 2020-23. Toward that end, the House Energy & Commerce Energy Subcommittee held a hearing on two bills circulated […]

PG&E Settles on Fires with Local Governments

19 Jun

Pacific Gas & Electric will pay a total of $1 billion to 18 local agencies to resolve claims stemming from wildfires in 2015, 2017, and 2018 under a mediated settlement reached June 18. The agreement, which does not affect claims against PG&E filed by residents and businesses, must be approved by a federal bankruptcy court. […]

Undercurrents: Trump Pulls Plug on Clean Power Plan

19 Jun

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule on June 19 to repeal the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. “Americans want reliable energy that they can afford,” said Wheeler at a news conference to announce the action. It will take effect as soon as the rule is published in the Federal Register. […]

Bills Address Solar Systems in Wildfire Areas

18 Jun

The state Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee advanced two bills dealing with electricity and wildfires on June 18. One measure, AB 178 by Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), would exempt fire victims rebuilding their homes from a state requirement to put solar panels on their roofs. Dahle said his bill, which was opposed by environmental […]

Juice: The Twilight of Fossil Fuel

17 Jun

It’s increasingly apparent that state energy officials are nearing a consensus that natural gas usage in California must be wound down to achieve both climate change and health-based air quality goals. Earlier this month, California Energy Commission officials discussed how to plan for closing down, or systematically shrinking the state’s natural gas distribution system as […]

Federal Energy Efficiency Backed by Both Parties

17 Jun

Federal lawmakers June 14 introduced bipartisan legislation to make federal buildings more energy and water efficient. The bill, the Federal Energy and Water Management Performance Act of 2019, was introduced by U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), who respectively serve as chair and ranking minority member of the Senate Energy & Natural […]


17 Jun

Updated June 20. The California Public Utilities Commission June 20 discussed its progress in modeling how Southern California might be able to meet its energy needs without the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. Commission staff noted that multi-state gas demand models will be needed to fully answer the question, since California imports […]

Climate Roundup: Zero-Carbon Power Grows in U.S.

17 Jun

Zero-carbon power generation exceeded electricity production from either coal or natural gas for the first time in 2017, according to a joint report released by the Bank of America, Entergy, Exelon, Ceres, and the Natural Resources Defense Council on June 17. In 2017, zero-carbon resources accounted for 35.4 percent of power production, while gas-fired power […]


10 Jun

Last week, Current reported that energy storage bill SB 772 by Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) cleared the state Senate. However, the Senate did not pass the bill, but days later agreed to reconsider the measure in the next session of the Legislature, effectively making SB 772 a two-year bill. Later, at Bradford’s request, the measure […]

The Buzz

6 Jun

As lawmakers contemplate a legislative course to deal with the mounting financial implications of wildfires, it’s increasingly evident that utility ratepayers will have to shoulder billions of dollars of costs. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders appear to rule out eliminating strict liability for utilities that spark wildfires, at least for now. California’s developing […]

Ratepayers Face Billions of Wildfire Costs

6 Jun

Under pressure to act on the mounting financial impacts of wildfires including those sparked by electric utilities, lawmakers face fundamental choices as the end of the legislative session begins to come into view. Almost all of them involve handing ratepayers much of the tab for untold billions of dollars of utility wildfire expenses. The choices […]

All-Electric Buildings Raise Rates

6 Jun

As California pursues a strategy to phase out the use of natural gas for heating space and water, cooking and other uses it will have to develop a transition plan to prevent remaining gas customers from rate shock. That’s according to a new study conducted for the California Energy Commission. “This has big implications for […]

Undercurrents: CAISO Is New Western Reliability Coordinator

5 Jun

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. early this week approved the California Independent System Operator as the West’s new reliability coordinator. With NERC certification in hand, CAISO will begin offering reliability coordinator services to electricity balancing authorities across the western states and in part of Mexico on July 1. “The NERC certification is an important […]

Juice: Uncle Joe Offers Climate Change Hope

4 Jun

News flash: Joe Biden just released a $1.7 trillion climate change plan as part of his Presidential campaign platform. While on the late side compared to others, including candidates who spent last weekend at the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, Biden’s plan may well be just as sweeping in its ambition. First and foremost, […]

Energy Storage Draws Bipartisan Praise in U.S. Senate

4 Jun

Energy storage gained stature in Congress this week during a U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing on June 4. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), committee chair, called storage an “innovative technology” that is adding resilience and economic efficiency to the nation’s grid while reducing greenhouse gases. She noted that an increasing number of Alaskan […]

Newsom & Lawmakers Reject Revising Strict Liability

3 Jun

As the Legislature looks ahead to summer, the governor and leading legislators have made it clear that setting up a wildfire insurance fund will be the chief priority in the coming months instead of changing state liability law. Facing massive liabilities for wildfires sparked by electric lines, utilities have continued to call for revising the […]