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OPINIONATED: Binary Geothermal Gives PV a Run for Its Money

17 Oct

By Paul Thomsen In 2017, for the first time, the combined energy and capacity values of geothermal energy significantly exceeded the value of solar photovoltaic resources in California. In the first quarter of 2017, geothermal’s wholesale energy value in Southern California was $13.50/MWh greater than solar PV. At the same time, utility estimates of marginal […]

Shorts

25 Sep

A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposal to facilitate aggregated energy storage and distributed energy resources to participate in wholesale power markets has drawn wide support in comments filed on the federal agency’s proposal, according to an analysis released Sept. 27 by the Solar Electric Power Alliance and the Edison Electric Institute. However, the two organizations’ […]

Undercurrents: CA Sues Feds for Halting Penalty Increase for Fuel Efficiency Violations

12 Sep

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit against the Trump Administration Sept. 11 for delaying a rule increasing the fine on car manufacturers that fail to meet federal fuel efficiency standards. “More fuel-efficient cars on our roads means cleaner air, better overall health for our children, and savings at the pump for consumers,” Becerra said. “We will […]

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 […]

Decentralized Solar Posed to Cut Grid Costs, Report Finds

31 Aug

Decentralized solar coupled with onsite battery storage can reduce strain and costs in maintaining the electrical grid, according to a report commissioned by Sonoma Clean Power that was released Aug. 31. Dubbed “Solar+,” the report said that sufficiently-sized solar systems coupled with storage on a decentralized basis also can serve new power demand as people […]

JUICE: Voluntary 100% Renewable Programs Lack Traction

30 Aug

Community choice and utility programs offering customers all solar energy or 100 percent mixed renewable power are about as popular as wall flowers. The uptake rate of consumers voluntarily paying community aggregators and private utilities for all solar or a mix of clean power is in the low single digits. It is as low as […]

Undercurrents: SONGS Onsite Waste Suit Settled

30 Aug

A settlement of the lawsuit over expanding onsite storage of spent nuclear fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Station was reached Aug. 28. “A cooperative effort between the public, independent experts and Southern California Edison has begun and will continue until the nuclear waste is removed from San Diego,” said attorney Michael Aguirre, representing plaintiff […]

Shorts

25 Jul

Marin Clean Energy voted to nearly double the number of its customers. The board of California’s first community energy organization approved admitting Contra Costa County, Concord, San Ramon, Pittsburg and five smaller municipalities into its service area. “So we’ve now got 33 communities in total,” Dawn Weisz, MCE executive officer, said July 21. Marin’s customer […]

JUICE: Scaling CA’s Zero Carbon Summit

19 Jul

Politicians are to rope up next month and set the path for climbing to a 100 percent renewable/zero emissions energy peak under legislation proposed by the leader of California’s Senate. Investor-owned utilities and several public utilities warn about reliability and cost crevasses that may open beneath them on the trek under SB 100 by Senate […]

Bill to Keep Utility Safety Funds on Track Advances

22 Jun

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee June 21 passed four small bills with little or no discussion, including one that aims to keep private utilities from diverting approved financial resources away from authorized safety work, including for pipelines. SB 595 by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) to prevent safety money diversions was approved on a 14-1 […]

JUICE: Juice Bar

31 May

Direct access has been somewhat of a dirty word since the 2000-01 energy crisis, which clobbered California’s private utilities and governor. Although not blamed for the melt down, contracts between independent power suppliers and large energy users—from hospitals to industrial facilities—were legislatively limited to existing direct access deals. Residential direct access was terminated after several […]

The Buzz

25 May

Pacific Gas & Electric fails to garner an extra $1.5 billion for decommissioning its Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor, as the CPUC stands by an administrative law judge’s decision. FERC moves a bit closer to a quorum as a Senate panel holds a hearing on President Trump’s nominees. In a report that’s, well, quite predictable, CARB […]

Direct Access Said to Threaten IOUs & Community Choice

23 May

The California Public Utilities Commission and Energy Commission met May 19 to better grasp how to reorient away from regulation of four private utilities, which are losing market share, to guiding the energy use of millions of disparate customers, including those joining public community choice programs. During the all-day joint commission meeting, the impact of […]

Regulators Struggle With Expanding Retail Choice

18 May

State energy regulators are wringing their hands over the flood of ratepayers moving to community choice programs and trying to create some order amid the chaos caused by the upending of the traditional role of private utilities and central planning. California is moving to a competitive retail market, notes a California Public Utilities Commission white […]

San Jose is Largest U.S. City to Choose Community Choice

18 May

The city of San Jose is forming a community choice aggregation program after its city council voted unanimously May 16 to approve the step. The program should become operational in April of 2018 if all goes as planned. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said that with the vote the city will become “the largest” in […]

Undercurrents: PG&E Faces $8 Million Penalty for Butte Fire

26 Apr

State regulators fined Pacific Gas & Electric $8.3 million for the Butte Fire sparked by a utility conductor. The Sept. 9, 2015, wildfire killed two people, injured one, and destroyed 549 homes, 4 commercial properties and 368 structures. The California Public Utilities Commission’s Safety & Enforcement Division found PG&E violated three of the commission’s general […]

LA County Opts for Community Choice Energy

19 Apr

Los Angeles County will form a community choice aggregation program, which will be the biggest in the state. The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously April 18 to form the program that is to offer higher levels of alternative power than Southern California Edison starting next year. The choice program has been under development for […]

Senate Panel OKs Efficiency & Demand Management to Meet Peak Loads

18 Apr

The Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee approved six separate energy bills April 18, including ones to increasingly meet peak power needs with preferred resources and another to require the California Public Utilities Commission to oversee integrated resource plans developed by community choice aggregation programs. SB 338 by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) aims to minimize […]

Shorts

17 Apr

Southern California Edison commissioned two new hybrid peaker units April 18 that employ gas-fired turbines coupled with battery storage systems. The project, which uses GE technology, will cut in half the number of times the turbines need to fire up. It is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the units by up to 60 […]

SHORTS

1 Mar

California’s Feb. 22 carbon emissions rights auction showed little demand based on results released March 1. Fewer than one-fifth of the 2017 allowances offered for sale actually sold. Interest was even more lackluster for 2020 allowances, with only about 7 percent of those offered selling. Both types of allowances went for $13.57 a ton. The […]