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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 […]

Opinionated: Solar+Storage Challenges Gas Peakers

28 May

By Fereidoon Sioshansi Gas peakers have been around well before the recent rise of renewables made them even more indispensible. How else could grid operators fill in the void created by the vanishing solar generation when the sun sets at the end of the day or when wind stops spinning the wind turbines’ blades? And […]

Undercurrents: PG&E Ratepayer Advocates Fail to Get Official Status

28 May

Updated May 29 The federal bankruptcy court judge handling Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy case rejected creating a formal ratepayer committee. If  approved, it would have required the utility to pay the committee’s legal tab. “Wall Street bankers will be calling the shots, demanding a ratepayer bailout to keep PG&E profitable,” Mark Toney, The Utility […]

State Faces Tighter Power Supplies, CPUC Warns

23 May

California is becoming increasingly dependent on out-of-state power to meet peak needs. At the same time, concerns about the state’s increasing vulnerability to the  exercise of “market power,” which could spike prices, is rising, according to a California Public Utilities Commission official. “There’s a general tightening of resource adequacy supply,” Simon Baker, Energy Division deputy […]

Mitigation Fee Proposed for Water-Cooled Plants

15 May

A phase out of the use of seawater to cool spinning turbines in power plants was mandated in 2010 to reduce coastal ecosystem harm. Since 2015, plant owners have been allowed to pay annual mitigation fees until they slash use of once-through-cooling or shut down their facilities. The annual fee rises with the amount of […]

Generators in the Black this Year

7 May

Power generators reported brighter outlooks at the end of the first quarter of 2019. But, three reported lower earnings and two higher. They have released their first quarter earnings statements over the past couple weeks. The details are as follows: AES: In the first quarter of 2019, Virginia-based AES earned $154 million, or 23 cents […]

Undercurrents: Electric Car Sales Show Strong Growth

9 Apr

Californians are buying electric vehicles at an increasing rate, according to sales data tracked by Veloz, a non-profit that aims to promote electric transportation. Sales of battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles totaled 13,736 last month. So far this year dealers have racked up 30,745 in total sales of such models, an increase […]

CAISO Addresses Backstop Procurement

28 Mar

In a marathon meeting March 27, the California Independent System Operator’s board approved several enhancements to the grid operator’s backstop power purchasing programs. They are employed to fill power supply gaps often in local areas. The grid operator also addressed the potential exercise of market power, particularly in the energy imbalance market. Before acting on […]

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 […]

CEC Backs Battery System for Black Start Operations

12 Mar

The California Energy Commission March 12 cleared the way for NRG to install a 7 MW battery facility at its Marsh Landing power plant in Antioch. It will be used to provide needed power for black start operations at the plant. Last year the California Independent System Operator designated the 760 MW simple-cycle plant, which […]

Some Generators See Brighter Earnings

7 Mar

The 2018 earnings results for merchant generators with facilities in California were brighter, with the exception of AltaGas. AES: This giant global power company’s net earnings for 2018 rose sharply to $1.203 billion, or $1.82 a share. That is compared to a loss in 2017 of 1.16 billion, or minus $1.74/share. AES’s fourth quarter earnings […]

The Buzz

21 Feb

The California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s and Southern California Edison’s $7 billion in energy purchase forecasts. But the approved decision also requires that annual projected power expenses—from renewables to fossil—be compared to the actual tab. State energy regulators unanimously agree to a three-year resource adequacy requirement and to later create a […]

Changes to RA Approved; SDG&E Deal Okayed

21 Feb

State energy regulators unanimously agreed Feb. 21 to a three-year resource adequacy requirement beginning in 2020. As part of that decision they also agreed to move towards a central procurement authority. The California Public Utilities Commission also approved San Diego Gas & Electric’s resource adequacy agreement with the Otay Mesa plant. The approved decision making […]

LA Mayor Nixes LADWP Gas Plant Rebuilds

11 Feb

Updated Feb. 12. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti Feb. 12 announced that the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power will forgo rebuilding three aging gas-fired coastal power plants. Instead, they will be replaced with renewable energy. “This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti. “The climate crisis […]

Undercurrents: Drawing the Unaffordable vs. Affordable Rate Line

22 Jan

The California Public Utilities Commission took its first step towards getting its arms around the cumulative impacts of its decisions on financially struggling ratepayers. “There is a lot of stake in this proceeding,” said Cliff Rechtschaffen, presiding commissioner, during the Jan. 22 CPUC workshop. He said at issue are the safety, reliability and affordability of […]

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 […]

Undercurrents: PG&E is up Against a Liability & Ratings Wall

8 Jan

With Pacific Gas & Electric facing ever growing liability for the last two years of devastating fires, all bets are off as to what it will do to stay afloat. Among the options on the table is a possible sale of its natural gas division. According to an NPR news report Jan. 7, this proposal […]

Shorts

17 Dec

As the year ends, CAISO is still reviewing plans to close AES’s Redondo Beach power plant in the Los Angeles Basin. The 1,342 MW gas-fired power plant along the coast uses ocean water for cooling and must quit doing so under a state marine protection policy. AES plans to close the plant in two years […]

Undercurrents: Morro Bay Eyes Ocean Wind Project Benefits

11 Dec

A project developer entered an agreement late  last month with the city of Morro Bay aimed at creating local benefits if a 650 MW offshore wind farm is eventually built about 30 miles off the coast of San Luis Obispo County. Castle Wind and the city struck the community benefits deal Nov. 29. It seeks […]

Shorts

10 Dec

A dozen-and-a-half Democratic U.S. Senators called on the newest member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to abstain from voting on energy matters on which he previously took strong stances, including on fossil fuel subsidies. Bernard McNamee played an active role in seeking price supports for nuclear and coal resources from FERC when working at […]