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New Laws Fully Fund Diablo Canyon Closure & Lift Direct Access Cap

20 Sep

Gov. Jerry Brown Sept. 19 signed a bill to restore funds the California Public Utilities Commission cut from a closure cost settlement agreement for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County. The next day he signed another measure to expand direct access to power supplies by businesses. SB 1090 will backfill […]

CPUC’s High Ticket Attractions Next Week

19 Sep

Utility regulators are slated to vote next week on three proposals that could cost ratepayers more than a $1 billion. They include costs in proposed decisions that could advance transportation and integrate more renewable energy into the state’s grid. At its Sept. 27 meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission is scheduled to consider directing Pacific […]

Climate Change Puts Pressure on Utility Rates

12 Sep

Global warming is increasingly driving energy utility expenditures and could lead to higher utility rates in the years ahead, a key state energy official said Sept. 12. Utilities, said Cliff Rechtschaffen, California Public Utilities Commission member, already are factoring the impacts of global warming into what they seek as revenue requirements in their general rate […]

JUICE: Eyes Wide Shut on Wildfire Liability Bill

11 Sep

Lawmakers promised a transparent process for the bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown dealing with liability for utility-sparked wildfires fueled by multi-year drought, legions of dead and dying trees and higher temperatures. Yet, the final provisions and costs of SB 901 by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) were anything but transparent. Transparent is defined as “free […]

Two Dozen Senate Energy Bills Sent to Governor

4 Sep

Gov. Jerry Brown has to decide if a number of bills should become law, including Senate measures to increase direct access for businesses, overhaul utility energy efficiency programs, increase mandated energy storage levels, and create new incentives for near zero emissions space and water heating in buildings. Brown also has to decide whether to sign […]

Bills Bolster Private Utilities’ Bottom Line & Building Emission Cuts

4 Sep

In a last-minute rewrite with minimal transparency, lawmakers passed a bill shielding Pacific Gas & Electric shareholders from massive wildfire liability but lacked similar gusto to pass legislation allowing for a regionalization of California’s electric grid. The grid regionalization bill, the two-year AB 813, remained stuck in the Rules Committee throughout the final two weeks […]

Utility Wildfire Liability Bill Rises from the Ash

29 Aug

New life was breathed into legislation to reduce utilities’ wildfire liability Aug. 28 that seemingly had been left in the char last week. SB 901 was declared all but dead and subsequent scheduled legislative conference committee hearings on the measure were cancelled. Then, the bill was overhauled behind closed doors. Few committee members or stakeholders […]

New EV Charger Law, Diablo Funding Bill Goes to Gov’s Desk

21 Aug

Legislation to backfill funding for the community that’s home to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant after it closes in 2025 has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown to sign into law. The measure also restores funds for employees who will lose their jobs when the plant closes. SB 1090 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-San […]

Undercurrents: Dems Slam FERC Chair for Pushing Price Supports

21 Aug

Updated Aug. 22 The head federal energy regulator was blasted for allowing his top staffer to state during a nuclear energy conference that his agency was working with the Trump Administration to ensure nuclear and coal power is subsidized under the controversial “fuel resiliency” theory. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Natural Resources Committee ranking member, and […]

Long-term Funding for Wildfire Prevention?

15 Aug

As a legislative conference committee continues hearings aimed at fashioning legislation to address wildfire destruction in California, looming largely in the discussion room is the need for additional and sustained money. CalFire Director Ken Pimlott told lawmakers Aug. 15 that his department simply does not have enough inspectors to begin policing electric lines. He added […]

CPUC Delves Into Reducing Utility Disconnections

15 Aug

Regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission kicked off a proceeding Aug. 15 that’s aimed at reducing the rising rate of energy service disconnections stemming from non-payment of monthly electricity and gas bills. Data show that more than 70,000 customers have their power or gas shut off each month due to non-payment. The CPUC opened […]

The Buzz

10 Aug

A legislative conference committee working to address wildfire safety and liability standards for utilities faces major opposition. The big kahuna is who gets slammed with the multi-billion tab for harm from utility equipment-sparked blazes. Major energy legislation to create a regionalized grid, move to 100 percent carbon-free power, and open up direct access to all […]

Plan to Curb Utility Wildfire Liability Faces Pushback

10 Aug

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to legislatively amend the decades–long court created legal doctrine that holds utilities strictly liable for wildfire damage faced strong head winds at an Aug. 9 legislative conference committee hearing. At issue is who’s responsible for the massive liability tab from the destruction arising from utility-sparked wildfires: ratepayers, local governments, insurance companies […]

Revisions to PG&E Rate Design Approved 5-0

9 Aug

The California Public Utilities Commission Aug. 9 voted unanimously for a settlement that changes Pacific Gas & Electric’s rate design, largely for non-residential customers, and alters its electric marginal cost allocations. Commissioner Carla Peterman called the decision addressing the second phase of PG&E’s general rate case “balanced.” This week’s decision adopts what’s known as the […]

PG&E & Sempra Report Big Losses

6 Aug

Earnings of two of the three parent companies of California’s major investor-owned utilities took a turn for the worse in the second quarter of 2018. Pacific Gas & Electric reported the largest earnings hit because of wildfire liability followed by big losses at Sempra Energy. Meanwhile, Edison International’s earnings were largely level and could be […]

The Buzz

19 Jul

The East Bay’s new community choice program adopts a five-year local investment plan that targets local renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric transportation. In an increasingly rare display of bipartisanship in Washington, members of both parties in the House praise the growing role of energy storage technology during a committee hearing this week. Current’s Juice […]

Undercurrents

17 Jul

The state’s investor-owned utilities will release their second quarter earnings statements later this month, and the results likely will be mixed. Pacific Gas & Electric announced that it expects to post a big loss. There is no indication, however, that the other two utility holding companies, Edison International and Sempra Energy, will do so. PG&E […]

The Buzz

13 Jul

Editor’s Note: California Current will be taking a two-week summer break. The last stories before the break will be posted on July 20. Story posting will resume the week of Aug. 6. State energy regulators belatedly agree to approve Southern California Edison’s 125 MW of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage agreements to be developed […]

Undercurrents

10 Jul

The harm to the marine environment from using ocean water to cool power plants is more widespread than thought, according to a new research report by the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team. The Council, a state agency, released the report July 9. It showed that ocean currents connect separate marine protection zones, essentially spreading […]

The Buzz

6 Jul

It was not just happy 4th of July, but also happy 3rd of July for many. There were mini fireworks after the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee sent the 100 percent clean energy bill to the Assembly Floor. SB 100 sets a 60 renewable mandate for 2030, with another 40 percent to come from big […]