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Private Utilities Face Wildfire Mitigation Plan Hurdles

18 Sep

California’s three large investor-owned utilities reported progress implementing their mandated SB 901 wildfire mitigation plans, but the shortage of tree trimmers and composite poles are among the challenges hampering their efforts. San Diego Gas & Electric’s Jonathan Woldemariam, director of wildfire mitigation and vegetation management, said Sept. 17 that the work has been “a humbling […]

San Diego Votes for Community Choice

17 Sep

California’s second largest city voted Sept. 17 to participate in the emerging San Diego Regional Community Choice Energy Authority. The San Diego City Council voted 7-2 to be a member of a regional choice program that is to launch in 2021. It is to aim for a 100 percent renewable portfolio by 2035. Last month, […]

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 […]

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 […]

Undercurrents

1 May

Updated May 2 The California Public Utilities Commission staff proposal outlining the criteria and methodology for utilities to recovery wildfire expenses under SB 901 is being challenged by a group of stakeholders. Specifically being contested is staff’s restricted definition of “customer harm.” It fails to include “harm involved in the form of funds paid out […]

Utility Wildfire Risk Reduction Plans Set for Approval

30 Apr

Proposed decisions released Monday by state energy regulators find that the private utilities’ 2019 wildfire mitigation plans meet the legislative mandates of SB 901. But, Pacific Gas & Electric, which appears to have the priciest plan of the three, is directed to track and prove the effectiveness of its various proposed measures to make sure […]

CPUC Decouples Wildfire Plan Approval & Cost Recovery

30 Apr

Three California Public Utilities Commission proposed decisions largely approve the private utilities’ wildfire mitigation plans, but their multi-billion dollar price tags don’t get the green light. CPUC Administrative Law Judges Sarah Thomas and Peter Allen proposed guidance for the trio of utilities’ mitigation plans under SB 901 states that cost recovery “is a separate matter,” […]

JUICE: Muddy Waters & Rates

30 Apr

While passing through a corner of Nevada along Highway 395 during a drive to the Eastern side of the Sierra I was struck by the differences in the price of gasoline in the Golden and Silver states. Filling up in Nevada April 19, I paid $3.30 a gallon, saving well over a dollar per gallon. […]

West Coast Utilities Coordinate on Big Truck Electrification

18 Apr

A study on electrifying the 1,350 mile route from Mexico to Canada for medium- and heavy-duty trucks is being launched by a coalition of nearly three dozen West Coast private and public utilities and organizations. The study by this West Coast Clean Transit Corridor Initiative, announced April 18, is to evaluate how, where and the […]

PG&E’s Proposal to Break Green Deals Raises Costs

19 Mar

If Pacific Gas & Electric is allowed to abrogate its long-term renewable contracts as part of a bankruptcy reorganization, bankers will increase the risk premiums on clean energy project loans. That will drive up the price of renewable resources in California, attorneys warned at a legal seminar held March 18 by the Environmental Law Institute […]

Juice: Clear Cutting for Fire Safety?

19 Feb

Oaks and other trees in California beware. The state’s investor-owned utilities have declared open season on trees in the name of fire safety. In doing so, utilities are set to cut down 400,000 trees this year alone, largely along their distribution lines where Californians live and work. Indiscriminate tree cutting and topping has the potential […]

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 […]

Sea Level Rise Poses Increasing Risk for SDG&E’s System

23 Jan

Updated Jan. 24. San Diego Gas & Electric faces the risk of significant damage to its power and natural gas distribution systems by mid-century, with more potential damage at the end of the century as the climate warms, says a pair of reports prepared for the California Energy Commission. The damages could cost the utility’s […]

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 […]

Power Demand Growth to Remain Tempered, CEC Says

6 Dec

Power demand through 2030 may be a bit lower than what the California Energy Commission projected in an official 2017 forecast adopted earlier this year due to lower economic growth. Commission staff outlined the new, lower preliminary projection at a workshop held Dec. 6 as part of the agency’s 2018 demand forecast update. “Our forecasting […]

California IOUs Show Handy Profits

6 Nov

Updated Nov. 7. California’s three major investor-owned utilities were profitable during the third quarter of this year. That includes Pacific Gas & Electric, which lost money last quarter and faces ongoing uncertainties over wildfire liability. Here’s a breakdown of the third quarter results. Edison International: Edison reported third quarter earnings this year of $513 million, […]

The Buzz

4 Oct

California’s big three investor-owned energy utilities are hit with credit downgrades. Their borrowing pains would be a lot higher but for enactment of SB 901. In spite of all the pro-electric vehicle effort and rhetoric in the state, the California Energy Commission slashes its spending plan for its Alternative & Renewable Fuel & Vehicle Technology […]

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 […]

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 […]