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JUICE: Small is Beautiful

2 Jun

As appalling as Pacific Gas & Electric’s track record of safety deficiencies has been over the years—from sparking massive wildfires to gas pipeline blowouts—turning it into a centralized public utility could be worse. It could create one big albatross hanging on Californians’ collective neck.   The high stakes matter is riddled with financial, legal, and […]

Diesel and Gas Backup Generator Bills Advance

1 Jun

Two bills promoting the use of diesel and natural gas fueled backup generation during planned safety outages passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee May 27. SB 1099 by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) relieves hospitals and other critical facilities that fire up diesel generators during power outages of any threat–real or perceived–that they will be fined […]

The Buzz

28 May

The California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s huge debt package to get it out of federal bankruptcy court by the end of June as directed by state legislation.   Moving on a parallel track is legislation setting the stage for California to seize PG&E’s gas and electric assets. Putting the utility under […]

CPUC Gives PG&E Bankruptcy Plan the Green Light

28 May

State utility regulators May 28 unanimously signed off on a $58 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan for Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility. Marybel Batjer, California Public Utilities Commission president, said the plan leaves some important power in the hands of regulators, including the ability to force PG&E to prioritize customer safety. She said that, […]

Hearing on PG&E Takeover Bill Delayed

28 May

A key vote on dramatic legislation allowing the state to turn Pacific Gas & Electric into a state-owned, non-profit power agency was postponed May 28. Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee Chair Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) said the author asked for more time to work out the provisions of SB 350, creating Golden State Energy. SB 350’s […]

Bill Prohibiting ICE to Access Utility Bills Passes

28 May

During its first public hearing since mid-March, the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee heard and approved one bill May 28.. The measure would prohibit utilities from giving customer consumption data to immigration officials without formal court approval. “Customers need to feel safe at home,” said Assemblyperson Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), who authored AB 2788. The […]

Batjer Wins Easy Confirmation as CPUC President

27 May

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously confirmed Marybel Batjer as the California Public Utilities Commission president May 27. Batjer, who appeared by video stream before the committee, faced no opposition from committee members or the public. “We are very lucky to have you,” Senate pro Tem Toni Atkins said before the 4-0 confirmation vote. Batjer was […]

Shutoffs, Microgrids & Digital Divide are the Focus of Passed Bills

27 May

Legislation to mitigate power shutoff impacts, and bolster microgrid installations to keep power flowing during and after fires, were passed by masked members of the Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee May 26. Also included in the small stack of bills approved at the Committee’s first public hearing since issuance of the stay-at-home orders are […]

JUICE: Doubts about PG&E Promise to Exit Bankruptcy Sans Rate Hike

26 May

Pacific Gas & Electric’s $58 billion borrowing plan to exit bankruptcy is required to be rate neutral. Ratepayers are not supposed to pay an extra dime for the Chapter 11 proceedings under the law creating a $21 billion wildfire fund, AB 1054. Protecting ratepayers from paying for this second bankruptcy, which roughly doubles PG&E’s debt, […]

PG&E Wildfire Victims Back $13.5B Deal, CPUC Set to Approve Reorg Plan

19 May

Updated May 21 Most of the tens of thousands of victims of fires in 2015, 2017 and 2018 that were sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to the company’s pending $13.5 billion cash and stock settlement. PG&E said May 18 that there has been “overwhelming acceptance of the plan” by the surviving victims—those who […]

The Buzz

14 May

The massive hole in the upcoming state budget caused by the pandemic does not keep Gov. Gavin Newsom from adding funds to protect against wildfires and its fallout.  It is another story for climate protection, however. Covid-19 also is responsible for destroying huge numbers of jobs in energy efficiency, renewables and other alternative energy sectors […]

CA Budget Plan Adds Funds for Fire Protection but Subtracts for Climate

14 May

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest spending blueprint for 2020 to 2021 increases funding for wildfire prevention and safeguards funds for reducing the impacts of power shutoffs despite a $54 billion deficit created by the pandemic. The bad news on the climate front is that the latest proposal eliminates the five-year $4.75 billion Climate Resiliency Bond slated […]

The Buzz

30 Apr

Lawmakers’ mission when back in Sacramento will be economic recovery. In the meantime, live energy bills are whittled down largely to ones that fund alternative power and transportation sectors and create jobs to help the damaged state economy. Also in the active legislation bucket is legislation to reduce the impacts of safety shutoffs. A bill […]

Outcry over Bill to Revive Stalled Pumped Storage Project

30 Apr

Among a reduced number of pending energy bills is a controversial measure to boost the prospects of a large pumped storage project near Joshua Tree National Park. AB 2255 by Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) was revised in March, shifting the focus from advancing long duration storage to benefiting Next Era’s 1,300 MW Eagle Crest hydropower […]

The Number of Energy Bills Drop During Legislative Limbo

30 Apr

The longer state legislators remain away from Sacramento, the smaller the list of energy bills expected to be taken up when they return to the state capital. The stack of measures has diminished to roughly a dozen. The Assembly is scheduled to return May 4. The Utilities and Commerce Committee is set to meet May […]

CPUC Set to Lower PG&E Penalty, Approve Reorganization Plan

21 Apr

Pacific Gas & Electric would pay a total $1.94 billion penalty for the deadly Camp Fire that destroyed the City of Paradise in late 2018, and for 17 other fires it sparked that year and the previous year under a California Public Utilities Commission April 20 proposal. If adopted, it would be the largest penalty […]

The Buzz

9 Apr

The Energy Commission approves city ordinances that beat state building efficiency rules. It applauds California cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. The Commission also continues to dole out millions of dollars in grants at its first remote business meeting to promote cleaner food and beer production, offshore wind, renewable gas and safer natural […]

Market Worries PG&E’s Wildfire Victims, Judge Rejects Call for New Disclosure

8 Apr

Updated April 9 Wildfire victims are divided on the $13.5 billion bankruptcy settlement reached with Pacific Gas & Electric earlier this year because the payout includes stock in the new company that emerges from reorganization and existing PG&E stock value has tumbled. Fire victims who want out of the deal attempted to get U.S. Bankruptcy […]

Legislation Sitting in Limbo, Passing Time

7 Apr

Those of a certain vintage may be reminded of Jimmy Cliff’s song from 1980, “Sitting here in limbo,” when mulling over the fate of this year’s state energy legislation. Weeks of cancelled hearings in the State Senate and Assembly energy committees have left numerous energy bills in limbo. No one knows how long the pandemic […]

Utility General Rate Cases & Memorandum Accounts for Dummies

7 Apr

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a new Current series explaining the fundamentals of impenetrable energy terms. With it, we hope to pull back the curtain on terms of art used in California utility regulation that often come with considerable price tags for consumers. Investor–owned utilities use their general rate cases to cover big […]