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Correction

10 Jun

Last week, Current reported that energy storage bill SB 772 by Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) cleared the state Senate. However, the Senate did not pass the bill, but days later agreed to reconsider the measure in the next session of the Legislature, effectively making SB 772 a two-year bill. Later, at Bradford’s request, the measure […]

Ratepayers Face Billions of Wildfire Costs

6 Jun

Under pressure to act on the mounting financial impacts of wildfires including those sparked by electric utilities, lawmakers face fundamental choices as the end of the legislative session begins to come into view. Almost all of them involve handing ratepayers much of the tab for untold billions of dollars of utility wildfire expenses. The choices […]

Newsom & Lawmakers Reject Revising Strict Liability

3 Jun

As the Legislature looks ahead to summer, the governor and leading legislators have made it clear that setting up a wildfire insurance fund will be the chief priority in the coming months instead of changing state liability law. Facing massive liabilities for wildfires sparked by electric lines, utilities have continued to call for revising the […]

Shorts

3 Jun

Updated June 6. East Bay Community Energy inked a ten-year contract with Vistra Energy to receive resource adequacy capacity from a 20-MW/80-MWh battery energy storage project that will allow the 165 MW fuel oil-fired Oakland Power Plant to close.  The contract is part of the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative, a plan developed earlier to replace […]

CPUC President Headed Out the Door

30 May

California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker announced he will be retiring as early as the beginning of July of this year. The often rumpled Picker quipped that initially he thought he’d postpone leaving the commission until he was forced to buy a new business suit. Instead, Picker said he would leave the agency following […]

CPUC Signs Off on New Power Shutoff Rules

30 May

State energy regulators this week adopted a decision aimed at reducing the impacts of private utilities stopping electricity flows across power lines during risky wildfire conditions. Approved May 30, the decision includes protocols to improve utilities’ reporting and notification of when it decides to de-energize power lines to reduce the risk of sparking wildfires ahead […]

Utility Wildfire Plans Approved With Some Caveats

30 May

The California Public Utilities Commission May 30 approved investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risk under SB 901, as expected. “Approval of these plans is just a first step,” said Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen at the CPUC’s meeting this week. “We are learning as we go along,” added Commission President Mike Picker. The plans, said […]

Wildfire Panel Calls for Redoing Utility Legal & Financial Rules

30 May

The legal standard for finding utilities at fault for sparking wildfires, as well as for determining how much of their wildfire expenses can be recovered from ratepayers, are in serious need of overhaul, according to a draft report by the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost & Recovery. The executive summary of the report, released May […]

CPUC Rejiggers Utility Cost Recovery Te$t

28 May

A California Public Utilities Commission decision proposes a new cost recovery reasonableness yardstick to determine the extent of ratepayer-funded cushioning of private utilities facing huge wildfire liabilities to keep them financially healthy and operating safely. Or in the alternative, the financial stress test is to evaluate the impact of requiring utility customers to pay for […]

Climate Roundup: House Democrat Eyes Clean Energy Funding

22 May

The House Energy & Commerce Committee this week began work on advancing the “LIFT America Act,” which calls for spending $33 billion on clean energy programs to cut greenhouse gas emissions and modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure. “All of these investments will help us take an important step in combating the climate crisis, while also […]

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 […]