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JUICE: Fire, Fury & Finances

20 Aug

The collapse of legislative efforts to shield utilities from liability when their power lines spark wildfires—even when they’ve followed all safety rules—may be seen as a moral victory by the bill’s opponents. But, electric power ratepayers won’t be protected from higher bills in the years ahead. The effort collapsed under major pressure from consumer advocates, […]

The Buzz

17 Aug

Few are holding their breath on votes on the big pending energy bills. The fate of legislation creating grid regionalization and a 100 percent green energy bill, as well as addressing wildfire liability, is anyone’s guess. Adequate and continuous funding for wildfire mitigation and management in California is the elephant in the room that legislators […]

Long-term Funding for Wildfire Prevention?

15 Aug

As a legislative conference committee continues hearings aimed at fashioning legislation to address wildfire destruction in California, looming largely in the discussion room is the need for additional and sustained money. CalFire Director Ken Pimlott told lawmakers Aug. 15 that his department simply does not have enough inspectors to begin policing electric lines. He added […]

Undercurrents

17 Jul

The state’s investor-owned utilities will release their second quarter earnings statements later this month, and the results likely will be mixed. Pacific Gas & Electric announced that it expects to post a big loss. There is no indication, however, that the other two utility holding companies, Edison International and Sempra Energy, will do so. PG&E […]

CA Leaders Defer Cap & Trade Expenditure Decisions

12 Jun

As state lawmakers race to pass a budget for the upcoming fiscal year by June 15, they’ve decided to make any final decisions about how to spend the proceeds from carbon cap-and-trade program auctions later this session. Legislative budget conferees agreed that more time is needed to resolve substantial differences in both the amount of […]

The Buzz

31 May

More than $1 billion in electric truck and car charging funding gets the green light. The California Public Utilities Commission approves the investor-owned power utilities spending $738 million of ratepayer money on EV charging infrastructure, particularly for electric truck and bus chargers. That authorization follows California air quality regulators directing $423 million to subsidize the […]

The Buzz

17 May

Utility regulators get big push back on a proposal authorizing the investor-owned electric utilities to spend almost $600 million of ratepayer money on electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Southern California Edison complains it has zippo financial appeal. Federal energy regulators order Pacific Gas & Electric to settle complaints over $500 million in alleged overcharges in last […]

Undercurrents

15 May

Updated May 11 Community choice agencies take issue with the California Public Utilities Commission’s paper released two weeks ago that claims community energy, along with the proliferation of solar rooftops, could drive the state into another energy crisis. “It is an unfair characteristization,” Beth Vaughn. California Community Choice Association executive director, said during a May […]

Gubernatorial Candidates Stances on Energy

10 Apr

As the June gubernatorial primary nears, the large field of candidates is drilling down on transportation, green jobs, climate change and the environment. Leading Republicans challenge the recently enacted gas tax hike and the bullet train. Democrats largely pledge to build on what Gov. Jerry Brown has done with some twists. San Francisco Mayor Gavin […]

The Buzz

5 Apr

Clashing recipes to determine how much community choice organizations must pay the private utilities for their stranded power purchase contracts land in the California Public Utilities Commission’s kitchen. The launch of California’s expected biggest community choice program is not fully baked. The Clean Power Alliance of Southern California’s June debut is limited to two cities […]

The Buzz

23 Mar

The grid operator’s board adopted big time reforms to increase gas power plant generator revenues and curb speculation in the transmission congestion market. Pacific Gas & Electric was chastised for balking at complying with the CPUC’s order to sign contracts for biomass projects to help reduce the huge number of dead trees. Biomass got  a […]

CEC Funds Biomass Project in Mariposa County

21 Mar

Mariposa County will become the site of a small biomass-fed power plant that will add 2.4 MW of local generation capacity to the area and help facilitate removal of dead pine trees. The huge numbers of dead trees in the area create a fire hazard and threaten to fall into homes. The Commission also provided […]

Budget Panel Picks Apart Energy Budgets

9 Mar

A Senate budget subcommittee questioned some of the governor’s proposed budget items for the energy agencies, including different funding sources for electric vehicle charging. Included in the new potential funding pots for EV infrastructure is money from the California Energy Commission’s solar homes and air quality programs. “This raises key policy questions,” Legislative Analyst Brian […]

Legislature Sets Busy Agenda with More Energy Bills

20 Feb

Legislators in Sacramento continued introducing energy-related measures through the end of last week, including perennial bills that to make large hydropower a qualified source of renewable energy and to promote electric vehicles. While some are largely statements of intent at this juncture—with the substance to be developed later—two of the more developed measures introduced in […]

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 […]