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Utility Financial Stability Concerns Come to Fore

8 Feb

In an unusual move, four members of the California Public Utilities Commission Feb. 8 answered written questions submitted by the so called “public” concerning the financial stability of the state’s investor-owned utilities in the face of regulatory policy and the growing impacts of climate change, particularly wildfires. The one-hour webinar—called an experiment in communications by […]

The Buzz

18 Jan

The California grid operator plans to move into the western reliability coordination market. And, it plans to do so at a steep discount. An independent group of scientists finds that gas storage fields are needed now, but might later be converted to store clean fuels or captured carbon dioxide. Forthcoming federal standards aim to improve […]

CPUC Okays 15 Utility Transportation Electrification Projects

11 Jan

Regulators gave the state’s three biggest electric utilities the green light Jan. 11 to spend $42.8 million on projects aimed at bolstering electric transportation. Under the unanimously-approved decision by the California Public Utilities Commission, a majority of the money will go toward projects that promote electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, according to Commissioner Carla […]

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 […]

Undercurrents

5 Dec

Pacific Gas & Electric upped its game on energy storage Dec. 4 by seeking approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to enter into six new contracts with a total storage capacity of 165 MW. “These contracts and the storage capacity they represent will help us better integrate our growing renewable generation sources, and bring […]

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 […]

The Buzz

5 Oct

A top legislative staffer gives an insider’s look at the fallout from the governor’s ill-fated effort to push through a bill to create an integrated western grid in the waning days of the legislative session. Electric transportation advocates flock to a meeting this week on the California Air Resources Board’s plan to give away $1.5 […]

JUICE: Electric Lifts for All

25 Sep

While I creep along a 16-lane section of Interstate 5 heading back to Los Angeles from San Diego, state leaders are putting the pedal to the metal to convert California’s transportation sector to electric technology that will be fueled by renewable energy. With their confidence bolstered by the remarkable strides in converting the state’s power […]

Climate Roundup: CA Spending Plan for Carbon Auction Money is Law

19 Sep

Gov. Jerry Brown quickly signed into law two bills, AB 109 and AB 134, which appropriate $1.6 billion in state carbon cap-and-trade auction revenue this fiscal year. The money will go largely to projects aimed at advancing conversion of the transportation sector to electric technology. The spending package also will help sequester carbon in vegetation […]

Cap-&-Trade Spending Plan Headed for Passage

13 Sep

The fate of a bill to require 100 percent renewable power in California remained uncertain mid-week as the Legislature raced toward a Friday deadline to finish up its business in Sacramento. However, lawmakers and the governor broke a deadlock Sept. 12 that appears to clear the way for a massive spending measure funded by carbon […]

Action on PG&E Butte Fire Penalty & EV Subsidy Bills

22 Aug

Legislation to strengthen rural wildfire prevention programs with a penalty payment ordered by utility regulators for Pacific Gas & Electric’s role in triggering the Butte Fire in 2015 cleared the Senate Natural Resources Committee Aug. 22. The bill goes next to the Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee. Meanwhile, a separate measure to advance electric […]

$14 B Port Cleanup Plan Lacks Funding

25 Jul

A joint plan by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to dramatically cut pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from their operations over the next two decades leans heavily on electrifying cargo handling equipment and trucks that haul shipping containers. But, it rests on an uncertain financial foundation. The plan, rolled out earlier this […]

Opinionated: NREL at 40-It Started With a Desire to Harness the Sun

11 Jul

By Wayne Hicks and Don Gwinner May 3, 1978, fell on a Wednesday, but it was Sun Day as well. President Jimmy Carter, who had designated the date to highlight the potential of solar energy, spent part of the afternoon visiting an office park in Golden, Colorado. It was there, 10 months earlier that the […]

Shorts

3 Jul

Volvo will sell only hybrid and pure electric powered vehicles beginning in 2019. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs,” Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo president and chief executive, stated July 5. Volvo announced it will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. The car […]

Ways to Advance Renewable Gas

27 Jun

State energy and environmental agencies June 27 heard a potpourri of ideas for building a market to sop up biomethane, which is currently produced and emitted to the atmosphere from dairies, sewage treatment plants, landfills, and other sources in California. Biomethane can be used as a renewable fuel to power vehicles, make electricity and displace […]

Undercurrents: Laying Ground Rules to Lessen Grid Insecurities

3 May

Energy regulators face myriad challenges in ensuring that state utilities adequately protect their substations, power lines and other energy infrastructure, from utility resistance to sharing sensitive information to impacts on ratepayer wallets. “Making sure the utilities are not overspending, and spending the right amount and in the right areas,” are key concerns, California Public Utilities […]

The Buzz

13 Apr

Eggs gathered in Current’s Easter news basket include approval of two controversial and large natural gas project redos along the SoCal coast. The California Energy Commission unanimously approved the Huntington & Alamitos replacement projects, which are to be cooled with air, not seawater-cooled. On the agenda at this week’s Energy Commission post business meeting closed […]

CPUC Revives Self Gen Program with Bigger Budget

6 Apr

Utility regulators April 6 approved a doubling of funds for the self-generation incentive program. It is intended to subsidize solar and other generation technologies, plus energy storage, at the power distribution system level. Funding is set at $83 million a year for the period 2017-2019, under the decision approved unanimously by the California Public Utilities […]

CPUC Budget Cuts to Delay Efficiency, CHP, & Other Proceed

3 Dec

The California Public Utilities is planning to delay implementing some new laws, defer hiring, and cut staff travel and meetings outside San Francisco in order to trim its expenditures by $5 million. (more…)

House Panel Examines Nuclear Waste Mess, But Lacks Solution

3 Dec

A House committee took up the federal government’s gridlocked nuclear waste disposal program Dec. 3, but proposed no specific course toward creating a permanent resting place for spent fuel and other radioactive material from the nation’s nuclear generating plants. (more…)