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Senate Panel Begins Work on Energy Measures

5 Dec

A U.S. Senate committee took testimony during a Dec. 5 hearing on seven separate bills dealing with Department of Energy programs. Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes pledged to work with the House Energy & Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy & Power as the bills advance. He expressed enthusiasm about some of the measures, including […]


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 […]

The Buzz

20 Oct

Greening the grid is the talk of the town. At the CAISO’s annual confab held this week, most bets are that a westward grid expansion will happen. Why? Because proponents insist it will promote renewables, which will decarbonize both the grid and economy, near and far. Achieving that goal, however, requires paying new alternative resources […]

SMUD To More Than Double Its Cloud Seeding

19 Oct

In the hopes it will lead to higher levels of hydropower generation, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s board Oct. 19 approved expanding the muni’s cloud seeding program over the Upper American River Basin. The action will expand SMUD’s historical cloud seeding program from an area of 190 square miles to 444 square miles beginning this […]

CEC Turns Down LADWP’s Renewable Credit Bid

11 Oct

The California Energy Commission Oct. 11 declined a Los Angeles Department of Water & Power appeal to have a contract with Powerex for small hydropower count toward compliance with the state’s renewable portfolio standard. The decision stemmed from an appeal LADWP filed in 2014 after the commission denied compliance credit for the power contract at […]

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 […]

U.S. Senate Panel Advances Nuclear Power, Efficiency & Hydro Permit Extensions

30 Mar

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee March 30 approved dozens of bills, including ones that would promote new nuclear energy technologies, energy efficiency and hydropower projects. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), committee chair, said the U.S. would benefit from committee efforts to “advance nuclear research, energy efficiency, volcano monitoring, hydropower, federal land exchanges, and […]


28 Mar

The March 30 state snow survey shows the snowpack is at 164 percent of the historical average, at 45.8 inches, meaning high river flows and full reservoirs. “California enters the snowmelt season with a large snowpack that will result in high water in many rivers through the spring,” said Michael Anderson, state climatologist. Electronic measurements […]

Undercurrents: Edison Nets Just $72 M from San Onofre Arbitration

14 Mar

A disappointing ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce in an arbitration proceeding over failed steam generators at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station will provide ratepayers little relief. In its decision in the case of Edison against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the arbitration panel ordered the Japanese maker of the steam generators to […]


7 Mar

An explosion killed a worker at the Sentinel power plant north of Palm Springs on March 6. Cal-OSHA and the California Energy Commission are probing what went wrong at the 800 MW gas-fired power plant which opened in 2013. Meanwhile, the plant is still operating. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power hopes to […]

JUICE: Dam Renewables

1 Mar

California is following in Hawaii’s footsteps and pursuing a 100 percent renewable energy standard by 2045. A lot can and will happen between the introduction and possible passage and implementation of Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León’s SB 584. It seeks to advance the state’s renewable energy standard of 50 percent from 2030 to 2025 […]

California’s Hydropower Profile

1 Mar

As California lawmakers contemplate reaching 100 percent renewable power, a historically wet winter filling reservoirs is enhancing the prospects for hydropower production after a five-year-long drought. California traditionally has relied on hydropower—though its availability swings wildly from year-to-year—for up to as much as 20 percent of its electricity needs. In 1998, for instance, hydropower provided […]


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 […]

Hydro at Oroville Dam Remains Closed

23 Feb

Last weekend’s heavy precipitation kept offline the state’s large hydropower plant next to the compromised Oroville Dam in Butte County. The Department of Water Resources’ 819 MW Hyatt hydro facility can’t be restarted because of continued high water and debris levels in the upstream diversion pool, said DWR spokesperson Chris Orrock. It is not known […]

Oroville Debacles Shuts Big Hydro & Transmission

16 Feb

Huge releases of floodwaters from the Oroville Dam, and evacuation of 200,000 people downstream because of a partly crumbling spillway, forced the shutdown of the 812 MW Hyatt hydropower plant and nearby transmission lines. “There is no threat to the grid,” said California Independent System Operator spokesperson Steven Greenlee. He noted that power flows in […]


31 Jan

California’s snow pack is “very robust,” Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, reported Feb. 2. The Department of Water Resources measured a snow water equivalence of 28.1 inches at the Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada, far surpassing 6 inches found on Jan. 3.  After taking measurements at 101 stations, DWR […]

JUICE: Diamond or Coal?

8 Dec

Given California’s support for energy storage to help balance out flows of growing levels of wind and solar power, it’s a perfect wonder that Pacific Gas & Electric dropped the ball on its pumped hydro storage project on a river in the Sierra Foothills. Although PG&E never finished studying whether this storage project was a […]

California’s Pumped Storage Projects

8 Dec

California has seven pumped storage projects that are operational, with a total generating capacity of 3,767 MW, according to the Department of Energy,. The 40 MW Olivenhain-Hodges Storage Project in San Diego County, developed by the San Diego County Water Authority, provides power to San Diego Gas & Electric. It opened in 2012. The 1,247 […]

Pumped Storage Project Proposes Using PG&E Dams Faces Steep Climb

29 Nov

A proposed 1.1 GW pumped storage project along the Mokelumne River in the Sierra Foothills that would use existing hydropower reservoirs owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric faces two big obstacles: PG&E and the Department of Interior. The pumped storage permit applicant, Green Gen Storage, wants permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission […]

LA Approves 1 MW Community Solar Program

17 Nov

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power approved spending $12.9 million to rent 400 residential rooftops in poor neighborhoods to help balance out the disparity of photovoltaic installations in LA. The targeted area suffers a poverty rate of 70 percent and solar roofs there are far and few between. The muni’s board Nov. 15 […]