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House Panel Debates North American Energy Trading

14 Dec

A House Energy & Commerce subcommittee Dec. 13 heard various views on whether and how to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, and specifically about ramifications to trade in natural gas, electricity and crude oil between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. “Energy trade and regulatory alignment have allowed the three countries to reduce their […]

Proposal To Replace Calpine RMR Deals with Storage & Alt Energy

13 Dec

A California Public Utilities Commission resolution released Dec. 8 would direct Pacific Gas & Electric to contract next year for sufficient local energy storage and preferred resources to ensure that the reliability-must-run contracts the grid operator entered with three Calpine plants are not renewed after 2018. The California Independent System Operator last month approved one-year […]

PG&E Pitches Replacing Oakland Plant with Clean Power

6 Dec

Pacific Gas & Electric is proposing to swap out the 40-year old natural gas-fired power plant owned by Dynegy in Oakland with up to 40 MW of local alternative power supplies and a utility substation upgrade. PG&E wants the California Independent System Operator to approve its plan to develop local clean energy resources, including energy […]

Climate Roundup: Electric Big Rigs Face Big Costs

30 Nov

Electric big rig trucks, which the state is pushing hard to cut emissions of greenhouse gases and unhealthful pollutants from transportation, have high “upfront costs” that “are prohibitive,” Navigant Research concluded in a report released Nov. 29. The report comes as the California Public Utilities Commission is weighing a plan by Southern California Edison to […]

Negawatt Providers Seek a Mandate

21 Nov

California regulators and policymakers say they want to see increases in demand response to reduce peak load and help balance out intermittent renewable resources. Despite the lip service, the amount of negawatt capacity reaped from the residential and commercial/industrial sectors has fallen since 2011, particularly from third-party aggregators working with the investor-owned utilities. “There is […]

Shorts

21 Nov

The grid operator won a national award for demonstrating that solar plants equipped with smart inverters can provide a variety of grid reliability services. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners last week gave the California Independent System Operator, First Solar, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory the “Utility Industry Innovative Pilots or Demonstration Projects […]

Private Utility Portfolios Bulge with Renewable Credits

20 Nov

The three investor-owned utilities have an estimated 55,000 GWh worth of surplus renewable energy credits. These excess green credits, which are separate from the actual GWh of power produced, are being saved for use over the next 12 years to meet the utilities’ 50 percent renewable portfolio mandate in 2030. The hefty amount of renewable […]

Undercurrents

13 Nov

Renewable energy and the prospects for electric vehicles could be upended in part by Congressional action on tax legislation. At issue is the House tax package, which would cut the production tax credit for wind energy by more than a third, eliminate the federal $7,500 tax credit for purchasing electric vehicles, and ax a 10 […]

Shorts

7 Nov

Coal power production is expected to increase next year largely at the expense of natural gas-fired generation, according to the Energy Information Agency’s short-term energy outlook for the nation released Nov. 7. Gas power production will be about even with coal power next year, with each representing about 31 percent of total power production, EIA […]

JUICE: Finding the Wind & CPUC Leadership

6 Nov

Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca once observed that “To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind. That is true for California’s utility regulators, who displayed a lack of vision and muddled thinking in two important meetings last week. The first meeting held by the California Public Utilities […]

Grappling with the Grid’s Horizon

28 Sep

Continuing to lower greenhouse gas emissions and raise California’s renewable standard in a changing electricity sector where utilities are shrinking worries the industry. “Where is the future going?” Ron Nichols, Southern California Edison president asked during the Independent Energy Producers annual conference held earlier this week. He took issue with the state separately pursing climate […]

JUICE: PURPA’s CA Purpose

13 Sep

Congress may gut the federal law requiring utilities to buy power from qualifying solar, wind and other alternative energy projects. Is that a big deal for California? Not really—if looking through a California-only lens. When viewing the issue from a Western perspective, however, significantly weakening or eliminating the must buy provisions of the federal Public […]

Private Utilities Report 3,100 MW of Qualifying Facilities

13 Sep

The 40-year old federal law mandating that private utilities buy power from independent producers, which was once center stage, is back stage in California today. That’s largely because of the state’s renewables mandate and improved interconnection. Today, investor-owned utilities continue to purchase power from independent small renewable and cogeneration projects under state regulatory programs established […]

“Baseload Power” Concept Called Antiquated

26 Jun

In advance of a Department of Energy report expected to highlight an ongoing need for baseload power from nuclear and coal plants, an environmental group June 26 released a study claiming the very notion of baseload power has become “outdated. “The reality is that baseload power is not a technical term and is not needed […]

CAISO Eyes Need for Controversial Puente Project

2 May

The grid operator is poised to study whether local resource adequacy in Ventura County could be met with demand response, renewable resources, energy storage, and other preferred resources in place of building the proposed natural gas-fired Puente power plant on the beach. “We know full well that there could be other options to this, including […]

Summer Eclipse May Triple Ramp Rate

2 May

A solar eclipse in August will test the state’s grid as it shades California’s growing number of utility-scale and rooftop solar systems. The eclipse is forcing the California Independent System Operator to plan needed contingency measures that could involve calling a flex alert to make up for a resource shortage. “We expect several thousands of […]

Shorts

4 Apr

U.C. Irvine could dramatically increase use of renewable energy with power to gas technology using excess solar energy to make hydrogen from water in an electrolyzer. “With power-to-gas technology, you don’t need to stop renewable power generation when demand is low,” said Jack Brouwer, associate professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering and civil & environmental […]

Undercurrents: Upwardly Creeping Gas Prices Prompt LADWP to Boost Power Charge

7 Mar

Higher gas prices are requiring the nation’s largest municipal utility to increase what its customers pay for electricity each month. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is moving to raise what it charges the average customer for power by 0.220 cents per kWh, a total increase of about a $1.10 a month. “This […]

JUICE: Catching the Sea Breeze

6 Mar

While some gaze east to the vast desert when contemplating a state power grid run completely on renewable energy, others are peering west to the Pacific Ocean for its vast potential to produce wind power off the coast of California’s shores. Our state, according Walt Musial, National Renewable Energy Laboratory offshore wind manager, has the […]

JUICE: What Tea Leafs Tell for 2017

11 Jan

As a fine mist descends from the sky and steam rises from a tea pot, my thoughts turn to what’s likely to happen to energy policy in California this year. For most of my life, California has been at the forefront of efforts to develop clean and renewable sources of energy to eliminate the heavy […]