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Looming Diesel Concerns Drives Quest for Backup Alternatives

22 Jan

A potential air quality crisis in the state best known for pollution regulation pushed the California Energy Commission into a full day forum Thursday on alternatives to diesel generators. The use of backup generators has soared in California with the growing frequency of preventive power outages during climate-exacerbated fire conditions. That includes large diesel projects […]

Notable New Appointments by Biden Administration, Including New FERC Chair

21 Jan

On his second day in office, President Joe Biden named Rich Glick chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I am honored that President Biden has shown the confidence in me to lead the agency at this critical moment in time,” Chair Glick said Jan. 21. Until mid-December, Glick was the sole Democrat member on […]

Five Fed Energy Regulators at the Helm

19 Jan

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s first meeting of 2021 was the first time in many months that it operated with a full five-member board. The last time there was a full commission was August 2018. “A little bit of normality is creeping back in,” James Danley, FERC chair, said at the start of the Jan. […]

The Buzz

14 Jan

One of the avenues for helping secure power supplies during safety shutoffs and heat waves is a proceeding on clean microgrids. But a new California Public Utilities Commission decision makes little headway on advancing the microgrid market because of concerns about ratepayer costs and safety. Those concerns do little to appease low-income advocates who object […]

Community Microgrid Advocates Left Waiting by CPUC

14 Jan

California is committed on paper to advancing private and public microgrids to protect communities from wildfire shutoffs, but a key step just taken by regulators favors projects advanced by the investor-owned utilities. A California Public Utilities Commission decision approved 4-0 on Jan. 14 makes way for the installation of 30 microgrids to power critical facilities—from […]

Newsom Proposes $2.5B for Electric Transportation & Fire Mitigation

11 Jan

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 budget proposes spending more than $1.5 billion to accelerate electric and other non-fossil fueled vehicles and charging stations, particularly in polluted poor communities. He also plans to direct another $1 billion to reduce wildfire risks in high threat areas—forests and communities.  Newsom’s proposal released Jan. 8 highlights significant exacerbation of climate […]

PG&E & SCE Customers Will Soon See Double Digit Bill Increases

17 Dec

After numerous speakers objected to the California Public Utilities Commission increasing electricity and gas rates because of the shelter in place orders, higher winter utility bills and loss of jobs, a rough estimate of the big increases in the investor-owned utility bills starting next year was presented Dec. 17.  Rate hikes are driven largely by […]

Four More NorCal Cities Ban Natural Gas in New Buildings

3 Dec

San Jose, Oakland, plus two Silicon Valley cities—Los Altos and Sunnyvale—voted to restrict natural gas use in new construction. San Jose and Oakland both voted Dec. 1 that beginning next June and August respectively, most new residential and commercial construction will be all-electric. Both city councils are expected to cast their final vote on the […]

State Regulators Face Solar Dilemma

3 Nov

Monday’s kickoff of California’s long-awaited proceeding to update net energy metering highlighted regulators’ dilemma of how to grow solar resources without shifting system costs to customers who don’t own solar energy projects. Nationally, hopes are high that California’s proceeding will offer breakthrough solutions to the troublesome successor tariff complexities that have emerged in other states […]

The Old Must Yield to Clean Microgrids, Advocates Say

27 Oct

California is striving to attain a clean, reliable, and affordable grid, but getting there requires huge changes—from institutional to technological. Part and parcel of this transition is the age-old battle between the established and the newbies, with the former fighting to hold onto turf and the newcomers struggling to get some viable sod in an […]

The Buzz

23 Oct

State utility regulators allow Pacific Gas & Electric to fold $447 million into rates to recoup part of its wildfire tab. Whether these incurred costs linked to different accounts are reasonable will be determined later. Also this week, a majority of the California Public Utilities Commission refuses to back a penalty program aimed at stopping […]

No Enforcement Yet Against Solar Swindlers

22 Oct

A proposed penalty program aimed at predatory solar contractors and shoddy solar installations, particularly in poor communities with members who have no or little ability to communicate in English, was nearly shot down on a 3-2 vote by the California Public Utilities Commission. Commissioner Guzman Aceves who proposed the punishments was visibly upset by the […]

Energy Commission Approves $400M to Slash Vehicle Emissions

14 Oct

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved $384 million in funding for zero emissions vehicles over the next three years, significantly boosting its commitment to charging infrastructure. Much of the work will be carried out in struggling polluted communities. “This is a really an important moment for the state,” Commissioner Patty Monahan said during the agency’s […]

Shoddy Solar Contracting Spurs Fund

22 Sep

Substandard rooftop solar work has become a significant enough problem in some communities that the California Public Utilities Commission may create a fund to address claims from aggrieved residential ratepayers. Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves proposes adding $12 to each new solar interconnection to fund a $1.6 million net energy metering recovery fund annually. The investor-owned […]

California Builds Out EV Charging for Renters

27 Aug

California regulators unanimously approved the largest utility electric car charging infrastructure program in the country. The California Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 to allow Southern California Edison to charge its ratepayer $436 million over the next four years to install 38,000 light duty vehicle chargers. Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen recognized concerns about the program’s cost. He […]

Officials Demand PG&E Limit Shutoffs, Protect the Vulnerable

14 Aug

After Pacific Gas & Electric’s damaging shutoffs last fall, state officials demanded Aug. 13 that it immediately work with county health officials to ensure the most physically vulnerable residents have essential power. State officials applied a much heavier hand to PG&E than to the two private southern California utilities. Earlier this week, representatives from Southern […]

Pressure Grows on CEC to Mandate Construction Electrification

12 Aug

Advocates of building electrification cheered two city measures to cut emissions from new buildings approved by the California Energy Commission Aug. 12. They urged the commission to go much further and adopt a state-wide construction electrification mandate as part of the 2022 building code revision. The city building codes of Davis and San Luis Obispo, […]

Officials Grill So. CA Utility Execs Over Wildfire Preparation

11 Aug

California investor-owned utilities pledged to reduce the extent and duration of their power shutoffs this year. They also assured regulators this week that they’ve taken steps to thwart the spread of Covid-19 at community centers during fires and outages, and to protect medically vulnerable customers. Utility regulators and fire and emergency response agencies grilled utility […]

The Buzz

6 Aug

Months of speculation as to who would be the CA grid operator’s new chief ends with the naming of Bonneville Power Administration head Elliott Mainzer. He says he wants to build on the success of the Energy Imbalance Market, which BPA joins next year. A nasty dispute between state utility commissioners and the executive director […]

Fracking Protection Bill Sputters

6 Aug

Legislation to require setbacks between natural gas and oil wells and playgrounds, schools, hospitals, and homes to protect the health of predominantly communities of color failed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee Aug. 5. But it was revived by a 5-3 vote to reconsider it in the future. AB 345 by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi […]

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