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CPUC Ups Ante on Fire Safety

14 Dec

Utility regulators stiffened fire safety rules for power companies Dec. 14, the last California Public Utilities Commission meeting of 2017. CPUC President Mike Picker said the new fire safety standards are needed, particularly because climate change is accelerating the risk of wildfires, for instance by causing tree mortality. Picker said that areas covered with dead […]

Federal Energy Project Permit Streamlining Said Lacking

12 Dec

Lawmakers focused on efforts to streamline the federal permitting process for energy and other infrastructure projects built on federal lands during a U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing Dec. 12. Panel Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) urged federal agencies to do more to expedite permits. She noted that similar projects approved in Canada […]

Wildfire Triggers Transmission Outage in Moorpark Sub-Area

5 Dec

Strong Santa Ana winds fanned wildfires in Southern California, causing a power outage to some 70,000 people in Ventura County the evening of Dec. 4. By the morning of Dec. 5, Southern California Edison had restored power to 50,000 people by “rerouting and recircuiting” power, said utility spokesperson Mary Ann Milbourn. The utility said later […]

Financial Firms Pocket Congestion Revenue Rights Rent

29 Nov

Californians are losing money to the financial industry in the state’s wholesale electricity market through a practice known as financial trading, which some say allows financial companies to collect rents by participating in wholesale power markets without adding value. The loss amounts to $75 million a year, a California Independent System Operator official told a […]

Undercurrents

29 Nov

The Bonneville Power Administration is keeping an eye on how flows of electricity to California and others in the grid operator’s Energy Imbalance Market might affect its ability to provide reliable power to the Pacific Northwest. Russell Mantifel, Bonneville EIM access program manager, outlined the effort in a presentation Nov. 28 at the Regional EIM […]

Juice: Blowin in the Dry Wind

28 Nov

Four years ago, San Diego Gas & Electric power lines sparked wildfires that burned some 200,000 acres in San Diego County. The fires, which began in the eastern area of the county, were quickly blown westward by severe Santa Ana winds. They wound up destroying 2,500 homes and structures as they burned through the dry […]

No Clear Path to More Consumer Choice

1 Nov

California utility regulators ongoing struggle with how to create more customer choice in electricity was not alleviated during a workshop held in the state capital building this week. At the end of the day, few concrete proposals emerged from various industry stakeholders’ differing, but largely piecemeal perspectives. The Oct.31 meeting was the second that the […]

Quantum Tech Seen as Gold Standard for Grid Security

26 Oct

Ultimately the U.S. must develop quantum communications to prevent its energy infrastructure from remaining vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to cybersecurity specialists. “The ability of hackers to infiltrate grid networks and corrupt these communications is real and growing,” Duncan Earl, president of Quibitekk, told lawmakers during an Oct. 26 U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee […]

JUICE: Grid Familiarity

24 Oct

If California becomes part of a western grid, is the vehicle important? Specifically, is it better for the California Independent System Operator to formally grow or for western states to join an expanded Southwest Power Pool? While nobody expects the Southwest Power Pool to ever reach California, there’s growing concern about the pool expanding into […]

Winter Power Supply Looks Good, FERC Says

23 Oct

California will have an adequate supply of natural gas and electricity this winter, with gas prices down slightly from last year, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s 2017-18 winter energy assessment. “Fuel and electricity demand likely will be moderate this winter,” Alan Haymes, FERC economist, said Oct. 19. Moderate demand is expected, he said, […]

The Buzz

13 Oct

Utility regulators approved $30 million for energy storage facility subsidies in disadvantaged communities, mostly for institutional systems. The California Public Utilities Commission’s former chief administrative law judge is preparing to sue the agency in court on claims of a retaliatory firing after blowing the whistle on alleged collusion by the commission staff with Pacific Gas […]

Undercurrents: Dividing VW Penalty Pie

9 Oct

Another big crowd filled a California Air Resources Board meeting Oct. 9 to develop a plan for how to spend $423 million in penalty money Volkswagen is paying for its major Smog Check cheating scandal. Under a straw man proposal developed by the Air Board, most of the focus is on reducing emissions from trucks, […]

Regulators Reject Edison’s Ellwood Plant Deal

28 Sep

After almost three years, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to turn down a planned 10-year contract by Southern California Edison to purchase 54 MW of power from NRG’s natural gas-fired Ellwood power plant in Goleta. Instead, the commission Sept. 28 ordered Edison to “to determine whether any identified need can be met in a […]

JUICE: Post Mortem

19 Sep

The most significant state energy bills of the year stopped breathing the final week of this legislative session. Legislation to set a 100 percent carbon free-power mandate for California by 2045, with the last 40 percent from large hydro, failed to come up for a vote before the wee hours of Sept. 16, the session’s […]

FERC’s New Chair Walks Fine Line

14 Sep

Neil Chatterjee, the new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair, signaled a subtle shift in the commission’s focus to maintaining grid reliability as more renewable energy comes online, during a Sept. 14 House Energy & Commerce Energy Subcommittee hearing. The commission under former President Barack Obama highlighted the role of matching power demand with available energy […]

The Buzz

31 Aug

A week that began with record heat and a near record demand for power ends even hotter with a forecast of a new all-time record peak demand for electricity in California. The grid operator calls for conservation. PG&E calls for flashlights. Decentralized solar energy coupled with storage and smart controls can lower the cost of […]

Perry Backs Away from Claiming Changing Power Mix Threatens Grid

24 Aug

To counter the rise in electricity powered by natural gas and intermittent renewable energy and fall of coal and nuclear fired power plants, the Department of Energy recommends reforming electricity pricing in centralized markets, including mitigating negative prices. It also calls for reducing the cost of licensing and relicensing nuclear power plants, large hydro and […]

Shorts

31 Jul

The western Energy Imbalance Market produced $39.52 million in benefits in the second quarter of 2017 for the market participants, the grid operator reported July 31. Total benefits since the California Independent System Operator launched the EIM with PacifiCorp in 2014 were $213.24 million, with carbon emissions reductions of 28,700 metric tons from using 67,055 […]

The Buzz

28 Jul

The California Independent System Operator seeks to widen the route to the state’s wholesale electricity market for demand response. Microgrids promise benefits, but first the California Energy Commission says numerous speed bumps must be removed to make them more commonplace. The grid operator seeks to head off the potential for sudden loss of large amounts […]

Grid Operator Seeks to Avoid Solar Energy Crash

24 Jul

The California Independent System Operator is working to get utility-scale solar generators to reset the controls on their inverters to avoid massive losses of generation when transmission lines experience momentary faults. The effort comes after major solar systems have suddenly quit feeding power to the grid—in one case causing a sudden loss of almost 1,200 […]