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Undercurrents: CA Sues Feds for Halting Penalty Increase for Fuel Efficiency Violations

12 Sep

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit against the Trump Administration Sept. 11 for delaying a rule increasing the fine on car manufacturers that fail to meet federal fuel efficiency standards. “More fuel-efficient cars on our roads means cleaner air, better overall health for our children, and savings at the pump for consumers,” Becerra said. “We will […]

Undercurrents: Bill Promoting Renewables During Peaks Before Gov.

7 Sep

State legislation to increase the amount of clean alternative resources used to meet peak demand passed both chambers this week. The Senate passed SB 338 on 27-13 vote Sept. 6 after the Assembly passed it 46-26 the day before. “California can demonstrate that a low-cost, low-carbon grid is possible 24/7,” said Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), […]

House Panel Debates Whether PURPA is Out of Fashion

7 Sep

A House panel this week began considering whether to change a 40-year old federal law enacted to promote small wind and solar energy projects and industrial cogeneration to make the electricity market more competitive and energy supplies more diverse. The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy Sept. 6 held a hearing aimed at assessing […]

Utilities Benefit from New Climate Prediction Tools

29 Aug

Climate change is affecting energy utilities in a wide variety of ways and the pace of change is expected to quicken in the years ahead. However, utilities are beginning to benefit from new predictive tools the state has developed to help them plan future facilities that are adapted to a warmer climate. “It’s incumbent on […]

Grid Watch: Heat Triggers Near Record Power Demand

29 Aug

As the heat wave over California was poised to intensify Aug. 29, the grid operator forecast a near record load. It restricted maintenance work on power facilities to make sure all resources are available to service utility customers. The California Independent System Operator forecast a peak load of 48,291 MW on Aug. 29, up from […]

The Buzz

25 Aug

State utility regulators okayed a shift in the peak pricing period to later in the day for San Diego Gas & Electric customers. Industry advocates warn it erodes the economic advantages of rooftop solar. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gets an education about how the grid operates. A Department of Energy staff report he requested […]

Perry Backs Away from Claiming Changing Power Mix Threatens Grid

24 Aug

To counter the rise in electricity powered by natural gas and intermittent renewable energy and fall of coal and nuclear fired power plants, the Department of Energy recommends reforming electricity pricing in centralized markets, including mitigating negative prices. It also calls for reducing the cost of licensing and relicensing nuclear power plants, large hydro and […]

Juice: While We Were Gone

21 Aug

No big breaking energy news occurred during our brief summer hiatus, but there were notable energy-related developments, including the release of cost estimates of using alternative clean energy resources in place of the Puente gas power project, a restart of the controversial Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump license proceeding, and a push by Southern […]

Calpine Lands $5.6 B Purchase, Sempra Buys Texas Utility for $9.5 B

21 Aug

Reflecting the contrasting financial health of investor-owned utilities and merchant generators in California are Calpine and San Diego Gas & Electric. Calpine put itself up for sale and the parent of the latter is going to pay big bucks to buy a Texas wires company. Calpine, which was the golden independent generator during California’s 2000-01 […]

Shorts

21 Aug

Dan Kammen, a University of California professor and chair of the Energy & Resources Group, quit his job as the State Department’s science envoy. His Aug. 23 resignation was in response to President Trump saying the actions of the neo-Nazi groups and civil rights advocates in Charlottesville we are on par. He said Trump’s words […]

CAISO Eases Market Rules for Demand Response

27 Jul

The California Independent System Operator’s board July 26 approved measures to enhance the ability of demand response resources to participate in the grid operator’s market. The board voted in support of rules that specifically include expanding the baseline that evaluates the performance of distributed resources and energy storage in CAISO’s market.  Currently, CAISO uses one […]

CA Grid in Flux, Picker Notes

20 Jul

State energy policy stands “at a unique point in time” with the chief goal ahead being to figure out the right mix of fossil fuel resources needed to keep power affordable and reliable, California’s top utility regulator told an Assembly committee July 19. California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker told the Assembly Utilities & […]

CEC Faces More Pressure to Reject Puente Power Project

20 Jul

Opposition to NRG’s proposed Puente power plant at the site of an existing power facility on the beach in Oxnard is continuing to build. Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks declared her “strong opposition,” and along with others, urged relying on preferred resources. “As renewable energy has become cost-effective and abundant, there is an important question […]

Shorts

18 Jul

The House Energy & Commerce Committee began delving into how the nation’s electricity markets are functioning July 18. During the first of two hearings, the general assessment by a panel of utility and generator representatives was that the nation’s power industry is in the midst of rapid change, which is driving down the wholesale price […]

Cap-&-Trade Impacts Poor Neighborhoods

6 Jul

How to ensure both greenhouse gases and toxic air pollutants are reduced in struggling polluted communities was the focus of a Joint Legislative Climate Change Policies Committee hearing held July 5. The panel members seek “to understand what is happening, and what work needs to be done,” said chair Assemblymember Edward Garcia (D-Coachella). While overall […]

Energy Bills Increasing Data Access & Decreasing New Plants Pass

6 Jul

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee approved two bills midweek that seek to expand public access to energy data and avoid ratepayer investments in unneeded expansions of the traditional fossil-fueled power system. SB 356 by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), which aims to increase web access to energy information, passed on a 9-4 vote in spite […]

Undercurrents: PG&E Sued for Refinery Blackout

3 Jul

Valero Refinery is suing Pacific Gas & Electric for $75 million in damages for a May 5 power outage at its Benicia refinery. The June 30 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of California charges PG&E with breach of contract and negligence for failing to provide uninterrupted power— primary and […]

“Baseload Power” Concept Called Antiquated

26 Jun

In advance of a Department of Energy report expected to highlight an ongoing need for baseload power from nuclear and coal plants, an environmental group June 26 released a study claiming the very notion of baseload power has become “outdated. “The reality is that baseload power is not a technical term and is not needed […]

Calls for Conservation Protect the Grid

22 Jun

A flex alert issued for June 21 and 22 helped the state grid get though the worst of the persistent heat wave that gripped California this week without any major outages. Power demand peaked on June 20 at 44,184 MW, compared to an all-time high of 50,270 MW during the summer heat storm of 2006, […]

Ventura Clean Power Alternatives Study Begins

22 Jun

The grid operator late last week agreed to study whether preferred resources—including renewable power and energy storage and efficiency—could be substituted for a proposed fossil fuel power plant in Oxnard to meet Ventura County’s power needs. Replacement power is necessary because two old power plants there are slated to shut down at the end of […]