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The Buzz

21 Mar

Two federal energy regulators warn of litigation risks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been creating with its deficient greenhouse gas impact assessments of commission-approved projects. California’s top lawyer throws his weight behind the Bay Area Cities climate change suit against the oil majors. Also, it is mixed messages from FERC. The right wing chief […]

CPUC Forced to Correct Resource Adequacy Waiver Claims

19 Mar

During a third Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee hearing on the changing electricity industry landscape, the California Public Utilities Commission president was taken to task for incorrectly stating at previous hearings that 11 community aggregators were exempted from buying local reliability resources. Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) wanted to know the correct number of […]

PG&E’s Proposal to Break Green Deals Raises Costs

19 Mar

If Pacific Gas & Electric is allowed to abrogate its long-term renewable contracts as part of a bankruptcy reorganization, bankers will increase the risk premiums on clean energy project loans. That will drive up the price of renewable resources in California, attorneys warned at a legal seminar held March 18 by the Environmental Law Institute […]

Picker Says the CPUC Lacks Wildfire Safety Expertise

13 Mar

A state Senate panel dug into the California Public Utilities Commission’s capabilities to develop and enforce wildfire safety standards for electric utilities on March 12. It learned that SB 901 is unlikely to prove a panacea. In addition, the commission president told lawmakers that the agency charged with carrying out the law is “struggling” with […]

Undercurrents: Newsom Eyes New CPUC President

12 Mar

Updated March 14. Gov. Gavin Newsom is planning to shake up the California Public Utilities Commission, including appointing a new president of the commission, the Wall St. Journal reported March 11. A plan could be issued by the governor’s office in a matter of weeks, Newsom reportedly told legislators and analysts from S&P Global Ratings. […]

The Buzz

7 Mar

House Dems blast the Department of Energy’s foot dragging on efficiency standard implementation while Republicans point elsewhere. Both sides agree, however, that saving energy is a good thing. State lawmakers, regulators, other power providers and generators agree that ensuring the energy caterpillar becomes a butterfly requires that decarbonization of the energy sector be affordable and […]

Assembly Panel Seeks Assurances of A Clean Affordable Future

7 Mar

An Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee hearing centered on how to ensure California reliably and affordably decarbonizes it energy infrastructure at a time when the sector is going through a metamorphosis. “It is a difficult challenge and we have met the challenge to date,” Mark Rothleder, California Independent System Operator vice president of market quality […]

Senate Panel Queries PG&E Bankruptcy Impacts

5 Mar

The implications of Pacific Gas & Electric’s second bankruptcy filing this century, including a probable rejection of some or all of its long-term power contracts and the role of the legislature will play, were weighed by the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee March 5. “PG&E encompasses the largest geographical area [of the private utilities] […]

Lawmakers Pitch CA New Green Energy Deal, Seek $100 B

4 Mar

A quintet of California Democratic legislators grabbed the climate change bull by the horns, declaring a climate emergency March 4. Senators Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) and Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), along with three Assemblymembers, announced they plan to introduce this week the state equivalent of the New Green Deal via a joint resolution to tackle the […]

Bills Would Create Utility-Funded Wildfire Loss Funds

28 Feb

Bills introduced in the Assembly last week would set up new state insurance funds. One measure seeks to get utilities to pay into a wildfire victims’ compensation fund and the other to require utilities to pay into a fund that would insure them against excess wildfire-related costs. AB 740 by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Marina Del […]

Utility Plans Will Prevent Few Wildfires, Fire Safety Experts Tell Lawmakers

27 Feb

As the California Public Utilities Commission begins reviewing electric utility wildfire mitigation plans questions are rising about how effective they’ll be at preventing wildfires. The CPUC continued its review this week, but in Sacramento fire safety experts told state lawmakers that utility power lines spark just 5 percent of the state’s wildfires. Ninety-five percent of […]

Solar Rights Bill Gets Bipartisan Support

26 Feb

Last week, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff) introduced SB 288, which outlines the rights of California homeowners, schools, businesses, and farmers to make and store their own solar power without interference from utilities. The bill seeks to update outdated tariffs that make it financially unattractive to install solar systems […]

Bills Aim to Give Lawmakers Say in PG&E’s Bankruptcy

26 Feb

Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced three bills Feb. 22, one of which would require legislative approval of any rate increases for Pacific Gas & Electric, which filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of January. The other two measures are aimed at increasing the safety of the utility’s facilities to protect against wildfires. […]

Shorts

25 Feb

SoCal Gas Feb. 28 outlined a plan to offer its customers renewable natural gas. The utility filed the plan with the California Public Utilities Commission, which must approve it before it can go forward. Under the plan, residential customers would be able to opt to have some of their natural gas come from renewable sources. […]

Senate Panel Warned of Excess Reliance on Cap & Trade

20 Feb

Over reliance on the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program to reach California’s 2045 carbon neutrality target was the focus of a Feb. 20 Senate Environmental Quality Committee hearing. “The cap-and trade program is providing practically no benefit to emissions reductions,” warned Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). However, of the 621 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emission […]

Newsom Awaits State Plan on PG&E’s Bankruptcy

12 Feb

Gov. Gavin Newsom intends to have a plan for dealing with Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy within 60 days. “We are all frustrated and angry that it’s come to this,” Newsom told lawmakers Feb. 12 in his State of the State Address. “PG&E didn’t do enough to secure dangerous equipment or plan for the future.” […]

PG&E Files Wildfire Safety Plan, Warns Bankruptcy Could Interfere

7 Feb

The private utilities Feb. 6 filed their mandated plans for reducing wildfire threats from electric equipment. The plans filed by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric at the California Public Utilities Commission are required under last year’s wildfire risk reduction legislation, SB 901. Much of the focus is […]

Undercurrents: CEC Chair Says Adieu

6 Feb

Updated Feb. 6. Bob Weisenmiller, California Energy Commission chair, will leave his post Feb. 21. “This position has allowed me to preside over transformative policies aimed at addressing some of California’s key energy challenges, including the threat of climate change,” he stated Feb 6. Weisenmiller, who was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, has served as […]

PG&E’S 2018 Lobbying Budget Soared

6 Feb

In the midst of the intense legislative maneuverings last summer, Pacific Gas & Electric spent more than $6 million on lobbying lawmakers and another $168,000 pushing its agenda at the California Public Utilities Commission. The utility spent the money during the third quarter of 2018, according to the utility’s Secretary of State filings. For all […]

Juice: Can CCAs Build a Resilient Energy System?

5 Feb

Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy is forcing California energy policymakers to grapple with the future of the energy utility business model. PG&E’s massive $30 billion liability for wildfires has led the California Public Utilities Commission to investigate how the utility might be broken up into smaller units that could avoid electric lines sparking fires and […]