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Undercurrents: Lawmakers Examine CPUC Safety Office

14 May

Updated May 15 Whether the California Public Utilities Commission’s fairly young Office of Safety Advocates is increasing safety at the CPUC and utilities was the focus of a May 14 hearing by the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Subcommittee on Gas, Electric & Transportation Safety. A key challenge remains insufficient resources for the safety office. […]

Gov.’s Budget Revise Eyes More for CPUC & Low Carbon Programs

9 May

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “May revise” of his fiscal 2019-20 budget will boost money for the California Public Utilities Commission and also expenditures of cap-and-trade funds for affordable housing, sustainability and resiliency priorities. The proposed increases come amid rising state revenue. “The California Dream must be built on a strong fiscal foundation,” said Newsom May 9. […]

Lawmakers Confront Looming Utility Liability

9 May

State legislators face tough decisions in the coming months as they grapple with the state’s energy utilities’ growing wildfire costs. At issue is more than utility liability for the recent fires. The bigger problem, according to state officials and experts, is the cost of future fires. It is estimated that a risk liability pool funded […]

The Buzz

2 May

PG&E’s first quarter earnings this year are far from rosy, but not as grim as expected. Earnings take an expected hit from wildfire, bankruptcy and safety expenses, which PG&E hopes to more than recoup from energy regulators and ultimately ratepayers. Southern California Edison’s parent earnings rise but that doesn’t stop its CEO from whining that […]

Edison Head Says CPUC Impedes Financial Recovery

1 May

The parent company of Southern California Edison, Edison International, reported stronger earnings, with total net income of $308 million the first three months of 2018, compared to $242 million in the first quarter of 2018. Subtracting out corporate costs, the net profit for Edison shareholders was $278 million, or 85 cents per share, the first […]

Utility Wildfire Risk Reduction Plans Set for Approval

30 Apr

Proposed decisions released Monday by state energy regulators find that the private utilities’ 2019 wildfire mitigation plans meet the legislative mandates of SB 901. But, Pacific Gas & Electric, which appears to have the priciest plan of the three, is directed to track and prove the effectiveness of its various proposed measures to make sure […]

CPUC Decouples Wildfire Plan Approval & Cost Recovery

30 Apr

Three California Public Utilities Commission proposed decisions largely approve the private utilities’ wildfire mitigation plans, but their multi-billion dollar price tags don’t get the green light. CPUC Administrative Law Judges Sarah Thomas and Peter Allen proposed guidance for the trio of utilities’ mitigation plans under SB 901 states that cost recovery “is a separate matter,” […]

JUICE: Muddy Waters & Rates

30 Apr

While passing through a corner of Nevada along Highway 395 during a drive to the Eastern side of the Sierra I was struck by the differences in the price of gasoline in the Golden and Silver states. Filling up in Nevada April 19, I paid $3.30 a gallon, saving well over a dollar per gallon. […]

Wildfire Catastrophe Fund Bill Clears Key Panel

25 Apr

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee backed a measure to establish a state-organized wildfire insurance fund that utilities could pay into in the absence of adequate fire liability policies in the insurance market. Meeting April 25, the panel approved AB 235, The California Wildfire Catastrophe Fund Act by Assemblymember Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), on a […]

Senate Panel Backs Irrigation Big Hydro as Renewable

24 Apr

A state Senate committee April 24 voted to let the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts meet their renewable portfolio standard requirements with power generated by the 203 MW Don Pedro Hydropower Project on the Tuolumne River. Today, power from such large dams is not considered eligible as a renewable resource. The panel also backed bills […]

Cost of Bulk Storage Measure is Top Concern

24 Apr

Sparks flew in the state Capitol April 24 over a bill to require the grid operator to contract for up to 4,000 MW of large-scale, long duration storage capacity employing pumped storage and possibly other technologies. While the measure, SB 772 by Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), was approved by the committee 8-1, lawmakers moved it […]

Power Line Fire Safety Bills Gain Ground

23 Apr

Energy-related legislation continued to move ahead in the state Senate April 23, with two measures clearing the Natural Resources & Water Committee. SB 247 by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) won approval by the panel on a 9-0 vote. Dodd’s measure would put CalFire in charge of auditing compliance with California Public Utilities Commission vegetation management […]

Central Procurement Bill Advances After Being Narrowed

23 Apr

An Assembly committee April 22 approved two key pieces of legislation, including a bill to establish a state-run backstop power procurement program and another to order state energy officials to investigate recent or future natural gas price spikes. The Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed AB 56 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) on a 6-2 vote. […]

Juice: Green Power vs. Green Jobs?

16 Apr

The New Green Deal, a 14-page national resolution to clean up the environment and simultaneously address social inequity by creating new job opportunities and strengthening the social safety net, lacks the force of law. But, it is a powerful, timely idea and symbol that’s causing lots of people to cheer or chastise it. Its potency […]

Newsom Calls for Wildfire Liability Reform

12 Apr

Gov. Gavin Newsom April 12 called on lawmakers to pass a legislative reform package to deal with the growing threat of wildfires, calling measures adopted to date “inadequate.” “We all have a burden and responsibility to meet the costs,” said Newsom. “We’re all in this together.” In a long and at times rambling press conference, […]

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 […]

Lawmakers Lukewarm on Central Procurement Bill

10 Apr

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee April 10 backed legislation to establish a central authority to serve as the state’s chief backstop power purchasing agent, but only after watering it down because of stiff opposition. Before this week’s hearing, Southern California Edison, publicly owned utilities, community choice aggregators, and some environmental groups, opposed the measure […]

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 […]

Assembly Panel Okays Bills on Power Shutoff Rules & Unions

3 Apr

Legislation tweaking energy rules and policies, including setting deenergization protocols and prohibiting utilities from using ratepayer funds to deter workers from unionizing, passed out of the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee April 3. AB 868 by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-Placerville) requires that private and public utilities develop criteria specifying when and how they will stop […]

Alternative Energy Bills Go Forward

2 Apr

The Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee approved a small number of bills April 2, including ones to increase the savings of utility energy efficiency programs and expand fuels that can be used in qualifying biomass plants. The approved measures include SB 524 by Sen. Henry Stern (D-Calabasas). It seeks to increase the energy savings […]