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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 The bill seeks to update outdated tariffs that make it financially unattractive to install solar systems […]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 […]

CPUC Takes Heat for Poor Utility Ratings & Safety

31 Jan

State lawmakers Jan. 30 grilled the head state energy utility regulator over what his agency was doing to bolster utility ratings and reduce wildfire risks during an Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee hearing. Committee Chair Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) warned California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker that the investor-owned utilities may become “un-investible” because of […]

Coalition Calls for Ending Natural Gas Use in Buildings

29 Jan

California energy regulators need to substantially revise their policies to make sure buildings become part of the solution to meeting the state’s ambitious greenhouse gas reductions goals instead of a roadblock, according to a series of white papers issued Jan. 29 by the Building Decarbonization Coalition. The key, according to the group, is to eliminate […]

Newsom Shapes CA Energy Policy with New Appointments

23 Jan

Gov. Gavin Newsom is moving quickly to put his stamp on California’s energy market roiled by the bankruptcy of the state’s largest private utility, Pacific Gas & Electric. A little more than two weeks after he was sworn in, Newsom filled a vacancy at the California Public Utilities Commission with another woman of color. He […]

Shorts

22 Jan

PG&E told the federal district court that put the company on probation following the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion, that its direction to inspect its huge power system and clear vegetation near wires could cost up to $150 billion.  “PG&E would inevitably need to turn to California ratepayers for funding, resulting in a substantial increase […]

The Buzz

17 Jan

State energy agencies are delving into natural gas and electricity price spikes in Southern California. One major SoCal Gas supply pipeline remains out of service after it burst in 2017, while two other major utility pipelines are operating at reduced capacity due to age deterioration. Lawmakers and the governor are not rushing to any conclusions […]

Undercurrents: No Rush in Sacramento on PG&E

16 Jan

Keeping the lights on and making sure wildfire victims and utility ratepayers are treated fairly as the state’s largest utility enters bankruptcy are the stated priorities of Gov. Gavin Newsom and key state legislators. “Everyone’s immediate focus is, rightfully, on ensuring Californians have continuous, reliable and safe electric and gas service,” Newsom stated early this […]

Newsom Proposes Tempered Energy & Climate Change Spending

14 Jan

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first state budget proposal would make cuts from last year’s record spending on some energy-related programs, but overall would maintain funding for energy agency operations and staffing, even providing for some small staffing increases. Unlike former Gov. Jerry Brown, who heavily featured climate change expenditures in his annual budget messages, Newsom focused […]

Juice: Cost of Living & Technology Challenges Public Purpose Programs

7 Jan

The collapse of a California Public Utilities Commission plan to put a surcharge on text messages to subsidize telecommunications for low-income residents points to a growing problem. Without new approaches, technological changes and California’s high cost of living may soon make it difficult to fund public purpose programs, for energy and climate change as well […]