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The Buzz

27 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission announces it’s considering slapping penalties on PG&E for sparking huge wildfires in the fall of 2017. Earlier, state regulators unanimously approve a utility financial stress test with much consternation. They warn that the legislative mandate unfairly requires ratepayers to bail out utilities even if unacceptable behavior led to their wildfire liability. […]

CPUC to Investigate SoCal Gas Safety

27 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission June 27 launched an investigation into the safety cultures of SoCal Gas and its parent company following large and small gas pipeline explosions and leaks since 2015. “There are significant questions about SoCal Gas’ safety practices and priorities,” said Commissioner Liane Randolph. She pointed to a report released mid-May on […]

Shorts

27 Jun

Updated June 27 The California Air Resources Board adopted certification regulations for heavy duty electric and fuel cell vehicle powertrains. They aim to increase transparency, reliability and reparability of the vehicles. The powertrain rules, approved June 27, also seek to protect the state’s investment in heavy duty alternative vehicle technologies and consumers. That state has […]

House Democrats Push Pipeline Safety

19 Jun

A House panel is aiming to place new requirements on oil and gas pipeline operators and toughen federal enforcement standards as part of an upcoming reauthorization of the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for fiscal years 2020-23. Toward that end, the House Energy & Commerce Energy Subcommittee held a hearing on two bills circulated […]

House Energy Puts GHGs & Storage Center Stage

12 Jun

The growing importance of assessing the greenhouse gas impacts of natural gas project permitting and better integrating distributed energy and energy storage into the wholesale market was stressed this week by a House Energy & Commerce Committee subpanel. The June 12 hearing of the Energy Subcommittee focused on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s policies and […]

Undercurrents: CAISO Is New Western Reliability Coordinator

5 Jun

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. early this week approved the California Independent System Operator as the West’s new reliability coordinator. With NERC certification in hand, CAISO will begin offering reliability coordinator services to electricity balancing authorities across the western states and in part of Mexico on July 1. “The NERC certification is an important […]

More Fallout from Shoddy Gas Lines in SoCal

23 May

The greater Los Angeles area faces another summer that could be plagued by tight natural gas supplies and price hikes for power generators due to ongoing gas transmission line outages and limits on the use of the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. June looks to be the tightest month for gas supplies, […]

PG&E Found Liable for 2018 Camp Fire

15 May

After the stock market closed May 15, CalFire quietly announced that Pacific Gas & Electric was responsible for the state’s most destructive fire: the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County. “After a very meticulous and thorough investigation, CalFire has determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific […]

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. […]

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 […]

Pipeline Safety Hamstrung by Cost-Benefit Rule

1 May

The head of the federal Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration was grilled over recent and past deadly natural gas and petroleum pipeline accidents during a May 1 hearing by the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Among the incidents were pipe blowouts in Santa Barbara in 2015 and San Bruno in 2010. “We have a […]

FERC Continues to Exclude GHG Impacts in Project Decisions

18 Apr

Two major liquefied natural gas facilities export projects in Texas and Louisiana were approved 3-1 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, although the decisions omit evaluations of their direct and cumulative greenhouse gas impacts. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, who cast the decisive yes vote at the April 18 meeting, welcomed the projects and the decisions including […]

Assembly Panel Okays Bills on Power Shutoff Rules & Unions

3 Apr

Legislation tweaking energy rules and policies, including setting deenergization protocols and prohibiting utilities from using ratepayer funds to deter workers from unionizing, passed out of the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee April 3. AB 868 by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-Placerville) requires that private and public utilities develop criteria specifying when and how they will stop […]

Juice: Climate Change Is A Force for Decentralizing Energy

26 Mar

California utilities have been under pressure for years from new small-scale and decentralized power generation technologies like rooftop solar, and aging facilities that have exploded and killed people. Add in climate-driven wildfires and the utilities are being pushed to the brink. This requires changes to the role and structure of monopoly utilities, as many have […]

FERC Democrats Challenge Agency’s Scant Climate Analyses

21 Mar

Two federal energy regulators March 21 criticized their agency’s shortcomings in considering upfront the greenhouse gas impacts of commission-approved projects. “We are creating litigation risks by putting our heads in the sand,” said Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. She highlighted a March 20 federal D.C. District Court ruling that blocks oil and gas drilling […]

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 […]

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 […]

State Regulators Scrutinize Surging So Cal Energy Prices

16 Jan

Southern Californians are paying more for natural gas and electricity due to the aging and failing natural gas supply system run by SoCal Gas. Due to limited capacity to deliver gas to homes, businesses, and power generators, the price of gas in Southern California was 134 percent higher during the months of July through September […]

FERC Works to Ensure Energy Customers Benefit from Tax Savings

15 Nov

Federal energy regulators took action this week to require the electricity and natural gas industries to pass along tax savings resulting from the 2017 federal tax reform bill. “The goal of the whole thing is to get tax savings back into the hands of consumers as soon as possible,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur […]