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News Analysis: As PG&E Retreats Others Fill the Void

19 Aug

By Fereidoon P. Sioshansi To avoid wildfire lawsuits utilities are driving customers to self-generation and storage. For the second time in its long history, Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s biggest investor-owned utility, is under bankruptcy protection. Both times, you might say, the company fell on hard times not because of what it did but because […]

The Buzz

3 Jul

Expected legislation incorporating the Governor’s wish list for a catastrophic wildfire recovery fund to bail out private utilities facing big liabilities is to get its first airing July 5. The Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee approves bills shifting the cost of supply shortages to energy providers that fall short  and increasing the efficiency of […]

Undercurrents: Diablo Closure’s Money Impact Limited

2 Jul

The financial impact to the Central California Coast from the closure of Pacific Gas & Electric’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is not expected to be significant. The impact of the 2,200 MW Diablo plant closure slated for 2024-25 is projected to result in an annual loss of about $800 million to San Luis Obispo […]

CPUC to Investigate SoCal Gas Safety

27 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission June 27 launched an investigation into the safety cultures of SoCal Gas and its parent company following large and small gas pipeline explosions and leaks since 2015. “There are significant questions about SoCal Gas’ safety practices and priorities,” said Commissioner Liane Randolph. She pointed to a report released mid-May on […]

The Buzz

14 Jun

A House Energy panel zeros in on federal legislation and tactics to resolve the troubling issue of long-term storage of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. Lawmakers also grapple with how to consolidate onsite spent fuel in 121 communities, including in Southern California and Sacramento. The day before, another House Energy & Commerce subcommittee tells […]

House Energy Puts GHGs & Storage Center Stage

12 Jun

The growing importance of assessing the greenhouse gas impacts of natural gas project permitting and better integrating distributed energy and energy storage into the wholesale market was stressed this week by a House Energy & Commerce Committee subpanel. The June 12 hearing of the Energy Subcommittee focused on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s policies and […]

The Buzz

30 May

This week is all about measures to reduce the impacts of utility-sparked wildfires in California. In the midst of all the smoke, CPUC president Mike Picker says he’ll soon retire. Earlier, he and other state energy regulators approve the investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risks from their equipment. But, the CPUC notes, this is […]

Opinionated: Solar+Storage Challenges Gas Peakers

28 May

By Fereidoon Sioshansi Gas peakers have been around well before the recent rise of renewables made them even more indispensible. How else could grid operators fill in the void created by the vanishing solar generation when the sun sets at the end of the day or when wind stops spinning the wind turbines’ blades? And […]

CPUC Changes Biomethane & DER Cost Effectiveness Rules

16 May

During state energy regulators’ business meeting, held in Oxnard this week, they adopted changes to safety standards for biomethane put into utility pipelines. The changes are in accordance with recommendations made by the California Council on Science & Technology. The changes, approved May 16 by the California Public Utilities Commission include: Lowering the heating value […]

FERC Reiterates Support for Storage, Sees Solid Summer Supply in CA

16 May

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on a 3-1 vote cast May 16 denied a rehearing request of its orders seeking to advance participation of energy storage technologies in wholesale power markets. The orders included prohibiting states from not feeding their storage resources into the wholesale market. “Energy storage,” said Neil Chatterjee, FERC chair, “has the […]

Fog City Explores Take Over of PG&E Wires

14 May

If San Francisco replaced bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric’s power delivery services and assets with its public utility, the city could reap considerable benefits. That is according to an explorative study by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission staff released May 13. “While any sort of acquisition of PG&E property would be a lengthy process, […]

Assembly Committee Okays Energy Info Bills

11 Apr

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee approved several measures aimed at providing more public information on energy prices April 10. Bills approved by the panel included: AB 1799 by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), to require the California Energy Commission to form a task force to delve into recent natural gas price volatility, which boosted the […]

Bill Bolstering Distributed Resources Advances

10 Apr

Legislation to promote distributed generation and battery storage with more favorable tariffs and grid interconnection process streamlining advanced through the Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee April 10. It was approved despite opposition from public and investor-owned utilities. The panel also approved two bills aimed at minimizing wildfire risk from power lines. SB 288 cleared […]

Opinionated: Remaking the Grid Part 2

10 Apr

Q & A with Lorenzo Kristov The California Independent System Operator’s former principal of market design and infrastructure policy Editor’s Note: In a recent editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, Lorenzo Kristov and Mark Ferron, former CAISO board member, advocated for an “open access” distribution system and indicated that local planning increasingly is “where the action […]

The Buzz

4 Apr

Bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric announces a new slate of directors. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s former chief is named the new CEO, with final voting to take place at the end of May. California energy and waste regulators start to grapple with surging quantities of aging solar panels and batteries. Steps needed to avert a […]

Opinionated: Remaking the Grid

2 Apr

Q & A with Lorenzo Kristov The California Independent System Operator’s former principal of market design and infrastructure policy PART 1 Editor’s Note: In a recent editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, Lorenzo Kristov and Mark Ferron, former CAISO board member, advocated for an “open access” distribution system and indicated that local planning increasingly is “where […]

Juice: Climate Change Is A Force for Decentralizing Energy

26 Mar

California utilities have been under pressure for years from new small-scale and decentralized power generation technologies like rooftop solar, and aging facilities that have exploded and killed people. Add in climate-driven wildfires and the utilities are being pushed to the brink. This requires changes to the role and structure of monopoly utilities, as many have […]

Undercurrents: CEC Aims to Fund New Technologies

26 Mar

The California Energy Commission this week launched an effort to develop a funding roadmap to advance smart inverters, energy storage, electric vehicle-to-grid, microgrid and other demand response technologies. At a March 25 workshop, the commission focused on current technologies and barriers they face that impede higher levels of distributed energy resources feeding into the grid. […]

CPUC Forced to Correct Resource Adequacy Waiver Claims

19 Mar

During a third Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee hearing on the changing electricity industry landscape, the California Public Utilities Commission president was taken to task for incorrectly stating at previous hearings that 11 community aggregators were exempted from buying local reliability resources. Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) wanted to know the correct number of […]

Opinionated: Charging With the Sun

19 Mar

By Severin Borenstein You aren’t getting “green electrons”, but charging at the right times still lowers GHG emissions. I spent a fascinating few days at the California Independent System Operator last month, following my appointment in January to the CAISO’s Board of Governors. The most exciting part was getting to visit the CAISO grid control […]