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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

More Fallout from Shoddy Gas Lines in SoCal

23 May

The greater Los Angeles area faces another summer that could be plagued by tight natural gas supplies and price hikes for power generators due to ongoing gas transmission line outages and limits on the use of the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. June looks to be the tightest month for gas supplies, […]

State Faces Tighter Power Supplies, CPUC Warns

23 May

California is becoming increasingly dependent on out-of-state power to meet peak needs. At the same time, concerns about the state’s increasing vulnerability to the  exercise of “market power,” which could spike prices, is rising, according to a California Public Utilities Commission official. “There’s a general tightening of resource adequacy supply,” Simon Baker, Energy Division deputy […]

Official Says CPUC is Ill-Prepared on Wildfire Safety

22 May

The California Public Utilities Commission will act blindly when it approves massive wildfire mitigation plans filed by power utilities that were called for by state lawmakers, the commission’s top safety official said this week. “There is no standard or framework for the CPUC to evaluate these plans,” Elizaveta Malashenko, CPUC executive director for safety and […]

Undercurrents: Corrosion Named Culprit in Aliso Canyon Leak

21 May

An investigation into the root cause of the massive 2015-16 methane leak at the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility found the direct cause was a rupture of the outer 7-inch well casing due to microbial corrosion from the outside because of contact with groundwater. The report, released May 17 by the California […]

The Buzz

16 May

It is better late than never for Southern California Edison, which finally gets its 2018-2020 rate case approved. State energy regulators okay a revenue requirement for 2018 of nearly $5.2 billion. Over the three-year period, Edison will reap a 4 percent increase, not counting recovery of its wildfire safety costs. Utility regulators this week also […]

CPUC Okays 4% Boost in SCE’s 2018-20 Rate Case

16 May

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved increasing Southern California Edison’s 2018 revenue requirement from the commission’s initially proposed $5.102 billion to $5.117 billion. As part of the triennial general rate case belatedly approved by the commission May 16, Edison’s revenue requirement for 2018 is below that of 2017. But, the CPUC gave Edison 92 […]

CPUC Changes Biomethane & DER Cost Effectiveness Rules

16 May

During state energy regulators’ business meeting, held in Oxnard this week, they adopted changes to safety standards for biomethane put into utility pipelines. The changes are in accordance with recommendations made by the California Council on Science & Technology. The changes, approved May 16 by the California Public Utilities Commission include: Lowering the heating value […]