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CPUC Takes Heat for Poor Utility Ratings & Safety

31 Jan

State lawmakers Jan. 30 grilled the head state energy utility regulator over what his agency was doing to bolster utility ratings and reduce wildfire risks during an Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee hearing. Committee Chair Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) warned California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker that the investor-owned utilities may become “un-investible” because of […]

$40B in Power Contracts at Issue in PG&E Bankruptcy

30 Jan

Clarification: The story was revised on Feb. 1 to note that PG&E is not seeking an immediate ruling on the fate of its power purchase deals. Changes are in italics. During Pacific Gas & Electric’s first day in federal bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali’s courtroom, it asked the court to allow it to end its $42 […]

SF Supervisors Eye Municipalizing PG&E System

30 Jan

Invoking the Green New Deal, San Francisco Supervisor Hilary Ronen Jan. 29 introduced legislation that could municipalize the power grid and natural gas system in the city. The action comes as Pacific Gas & Electric, which owns and operates those systems in the city, filed for bankruptcy. “”Their safety record is abysmal,” said Ronen, citing […]

PG&E Files for Bankruptcy

29 Jan

Pacific Gas & Electric entered the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California Jan. 29, as expected. Although last week PG&E was found not responsible for sparking the largest fire in Northern California in 2017, the Tubbs Fire, it still faces enormous liability for other wildfires that year and in 2018. “Throughout this […]

JUICE: Regulators & Others Move to Keep Skin in PG&E Bankruptcy Game

29 Jan

State and federal energy regulators took expedited actions to protect their authority over Pacific Gas & Electric before it entered into the unknowns of federal bankruptcy court. Renewable energy companies and other generators asked both agencies to protect their ongoing power agreements with PG&E. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late on Jan. 25 stepped into […]

Undercurrents: EIM Governance Changes

28 Jan

Updated Jan. 31. The Energy Imbalance Market’s Governing Body late last week began discussing potential changes to its governance structure. Specifically, the grid operator wants the EIM Governing Body to assume primary authority for “changes to generally applicable rules of the real-time market if the primary driver for the change is EIM,” according to a […]

PG&E Equipment Did Not Start the Tubbs Fire, Cal Fire Finds

24 Jan

Cal Fire investigators determined Jan. 24 that a private electrical system adjacent to a residential structure caused the destructive Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa in 2017, not Pacific Gas & Electric equipment. The Tubbs Fire in October of that year killed 23 people and destroyed 5,636 structures as it quickly burned through 36,807 acres of […]

NextEra Wants FERC to Protect Its PG&E Contracts

24 Jan

NextEra and Pacific Gas & Electric are battling over who calls the shots on power purchase agreements: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and/or the federal bankruptcy court. NextEra sought an emergency ruling from federal energy regulators Jan. 18 to protect its wholesale contracts with PG&E from being abrogated by the federal bankruptcy case. NextEra wants […]

Undercurrents: Drawing the Unaffordable vs. Affordable Rate Line

22 Jan

The California Public Utilities Commission took its first step towards getting its arms around the cumulative impacts of its decisions on financially struggling ratepayers. “There is a lot of stake in this proceeding,” said Cliff Rechtschaffen, presiding commissioner, during the Jan. 22 CPUC workshop. He said at issue are the safety, reliability and affordability of […]

Opinionated: The Climate Conundrum & the Vulnerable Utility Pocketbook

22 Jan

By Dan Delurey Few among us have not been subject to a power outage in our home or place of business. The electric utility industry as it grew and expanded over the decades, did so almost entirely above ground via wires and poles. Not surprisingly, this type of system, or grid, has been subject to […]

Climate Roundup: Natural Gas Use to Decline as Climate Warms

22 Jan

Global warming will drive electricity usage upward in California and natural gas use downward, according to a study for the California Energy Commission discussed Jan. 18. The report examined almost a billion bills for electricity and natural gas usage in California homes and correlated usage with weather conditions. It then projected how usage is likely […]

Shorts

22 Jan

PG&E told the federal district court that put the company on probation following the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion, that its direction to inspect its huge power system and clear vegetation near wires could cost up to $150 billion.  “PG&E would inevitably need to turn to California ratepayers for funding, resulting in a substantial increase […]

The Buzz

17 Jan

State energy agencies are delving into natural gas and electricity price spikes in Southern California. One major SoCal Gas supply pipeline remains out of service after it burst in 2017, while two other major utility pipelines are operating at reduced capacity due to age deterioration. Lawmakers and the governor are not rushing to any conclusions […]

Undercurrents: No Rush in Sacramento on PG&E

16 Jan

Keeping the lights on and making sure wildfire victims and utility ratepayers are treated fairly as the state’s largest utility enters bankruptcy are the stated priorities of Gov. Gavin Newsom and key state legislators. “Everyone’s immediate focus is, rightfully, on ensuring Californians have continuous, reliable and safe electric and gas service,” Newsom stated early this […]

Shorts

15 Jan

The Department of Interior directed furloughed staff to work on oil and gas leases on federal lands without pay on the 26th day of the federal government’s shutdown. “National parks, museums, and federal offices are closed throughout the nation due to the President’s ongoing shutdown,” Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) noted Jan. 16. “But if you […]

JUICE: PG&E’s Past Bankruptcy as Prologue

14 Jan

Pacific Gas & Electric is heading to bankruptcy court again to deal with overwhelming financial and legal liability. The liability it’s facing from the massive wildfires in 2017 and 2018 dwarfs the debt it struggled with during 2000-01 energy crisis when it faced huge spikes in merchant generator and wholesale power prices. And, unlike during […]

The Buzz

10 Jan

State energy regulators unanimously move to begin developing a framework for determining how much of private utilities’ fire liability costs should be paid by ratepayers. The vote comes amidst ongoing protests by those outraged by the death and destruction caused by wildfires both sparked and possibly sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric. The California Public […]

CPUC Approves $50 Million Energy Efficiency Program Renewal

10 Jan

The California Public Utilities Commission Jan. 10 voted 4-0 for a $52 million extension of the contract with the company that implements the utilities’ marketing and outreach portion of Energy Upgrade California. The program provides small businesses and homeowners with information tools and contacts to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and offices. It […]

CPUC Launches Rulemaking to Protect Grid & Backs Edison Cost Recovery

10 Jan

The state energy commissioners this week adopted a new rulemaking to reduce physical risks to utility equipment, including the shooting up utility transmission towers and other acts of human sabotage to infrastructure. It directs the utilities to identify at-risk facilities. It also orders them to implement a six-step mitigation plan developed by the North America […]

Undercurrents: PG&E is up Against a Liability & Ratings Wall

8 Jan

With Pacific Gas & Electric facing ever growing liability for the last two years of devastating fires, all bets are off as to what it will do to stay afloat. Among the options on the table is a possible sale of its natural gas division. According to an NPR news report Jan. 7, this proposal […]