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Shorts

9 Jul

Updated July 11. The Senate Energy & Natural Resources committee held a celebratory hearing July 11 on growing U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas. “We are now leading the world in natural gas production, and hopefully soon, we will also lead in exports,” said panel chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (D-AK. “More U.S. LNG export facilities […]

Undercurrents: Diablo Closure’s Money Impact Limited

2 Jul

The financial impact to the Central California Coast from the closure of Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is not expected to be significant. The impact of the 2,200 MW Diablo plant closure slated for 2024-25 is projected to result in an annual loss of about $800 million to San Luis Obispo […]

CPUC Weighs Penalizing PG&E for 2017 Wildfires

27 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission announced the evening of June 27 that it initiated a proceeding to consider fining Pacific Gas & Electric for 15 of the 17 devastating blazes its equipment sparked in October 2017. “PG&E’s violations during the 2017 fire siege are extensive and disturbing, and go to basic requirements, such as the […]

CPUC to Investigate SoCal Gas Safety

27 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission June 27 launched an investigation into the safety cultures of SoCal Gas and its parent company following large and small gas pipeline explosions and leaks since 2015. “There are significant questions about SoCal Gas’ safety practices and priorities,” said Commissioner Liane Randolph. She pointed to a report released mid-May on […]

Resolution of Spent Fuel Storage Remains Illusive

27 Jun

The U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee June 27 attempted again to break the stalemate on moving growing levels of spent nuclear waste stored onsite at power plants and elsewhere into one or more licensed long-term waste repositories. “Our nation’s nuclear industry is critically important, but also faces a number of challenges, and one […]

Shorts

27 Jun

Updated June 27 The California Air Resources Board adopted certification regulations for heavy duty electric and fuel cell vehicle powertrains. They aim to increase transparency, reliability and reparability of the vehicles. The powertrain rules, approved June 27, also seek to protect the state’s investment in heavy duty alternative vehicle technologies and consumers. That state has […]

Undercurrents: East Bay Energy Inks 200 MW of Clean Energy Deals

24 Jun

The East Bay Community Energy June 24 signed four contracts for 213.5 MW of wind and solar energy and battery storage projects. One of the four deals is a 10-year agreement for 20 MW of energy storage to provide resource adequacy. It is to partially replace the 40-year old polluting 165 MW Oakland power plant […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]