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S&P Pressures Sen. Wildfire Panel on Strict Liability

11 Jun

The Senate Select Committee on the Governor’s 2019 Report: Wildfires & Climate Change was warned that the credit rating agencies would further downgrade the investor-owned utilities if the state’s strict liability standard applied to utility equipment-sparked wildfires remained on the books. Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) waived a letter from Standard & Poor’s during a […]

The Buzz

30 May

This week is all about measures to reduce the impacts of utility-sparked wildfires in California. In the midst of all the smoke, CPUC president Mike Picker says he’ll soon retire. Earlier, he and other state energy regulators approve the investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risks from their equipment. But, the CPUC notes, this is […]

CPUC President Headed Out the Door

30 May

California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker announced he will be retiring as early as the beginning of July of this year. The often rumpled Picker quipped that initially he thought he’d postpone leaving the commission until he was forced to buy a new business suit. Instead, Picker said he would leave the agency following […]

CPUC Signs Off on New Power Shutoff Rules

30 May

State energy regulators this week adopted a decision aimed at reducing the impacts of private utilities stopping electricity flows across power lines during risky wildfire conditions. Approved May 30, the decision includes protocols to improve utilities’ reporting and notification of when it decides to de-energize power lines to reduce the risk of sparking wildfires ahead […]

Utility Wildfire Plans Approved With Some Caveats

30 May

The California Public Utilities Commission May 30 approved investor-owned utilities’ 2019 plans to stem wildfire risk under SB 901, as expected. “Approval of these plans is just a first step,” said Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen at the CPUC’s meeting this week. “We are learning as we go along,” added Commission President Mike Picker. The plans, said […]

Wildfire Panel Calls for Redoing Utility Legal & Financial Rules

30 May

The legal standard for finding utilities at fault for sparking wildfires, as well as for determining how much of their wildfire expenses can be recovered from ratepayers, are in serious need of overhaul, according to a draft report by the Commission on Catastrophic Wildfire Cost & Recovery. The executive summary of the report, released May […]

Shorts

29 May

The California Public Utilities Commission May 30 approved lifting the direct access cap in investor-owned utility territories by 4,000 GWh. There is a long list of large energy users seeking to receive power from direct access providers since it was capped after the 2000-01 energy crisis.  CPUC President Mike Picker said the additional direct access […]

CPUC Rejiggers Utility Cost Recovery Te$t

28 May

A California Public Utilities Commission decision proposes a new cost recovery reasonableness yardstick to determine the extent of ratepayer-funded cushioning of private utilities facing huge wildfire liabilities to keep them financially healthy and operating safely. Or in the alternative, the financial stress test is to evaluate the impact of requiring utility customers to pay for […]

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 […]

The Buzz

16 May

It is better late than never for Southern California Edison, which finally gets its 2018-2020 rate case approved. State energy regulators okay a revenue requirement for 2018 of nearly $5.2 billion. Over the three-year period, Edison will reap a 4 percent increase, not counting recovery of its wildfire safety costs. Utility regulators this week also […]

CPUC Okays 4% Boost in SCE’s 2018-20 Rate Case

16 May

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved increasing Southern California Edison’s 2018 revenue requirement from the commission’s initially proposed $5.102 billion to $5.117 billion. As part of the triennial general rate case belatedly approved by the commission May 16, Edison’s revenue requirement for 2018 is below that of 2017. But, the CPUC gave Edison 92 […]

CPUC Changes Biomethane & DER Cost Effectiveness Rules

16 May

During state energy regulators’ business meeting, held in Oxnard this week, they adopted changes to safety standards for biomethane put into utility pipelines. The changes are in accordance with recommendations made by the California Council on Science & Technology. The changes, approved May 16 by the California Public Utilities Commission include: Lowering the heating value […]

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. […]

Opinionated:To CPE or Not To CPE

14 May

By Steven Kelly After many years of work, the California Public Utilities Commission earlier this year finally adopted a multi-year resource adequacy program to help ensure grid reliability. Now, the CPUC is considering additional changes to the adopted framework, particularly the insertion of a “central procurement entity” to mitigate the risk that the California Independent […]

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 […]

Edison Head Says CPUC Impedes Financial Recovery

1 May

The parent company of Southern California Edison, Edison International, reported stronger earnings, with total net income of $308 million the first three months of 2018, compared to $242 million in the first quarter of 2018. Subtracting out corporate costs, the net profit for Edison shareholders was $278 million, or 85 cents per share, the first […]

Utility Wildfire Risk Reduction Plans Set for Approval

30 Apr

Proposed decisions released Monday by state energy regulators find that the private utilities’ 2019 wildfire mitigation plans meet the legislative mandates of SB 901. But, Pacific Gas & Electric, which appears to have the priciest plan of the three, is directed to track and prove the effectiveness of its various proposed measures to make sure […]

CPUC Decouples Wildfire Plan Approval & Cost Recovery

30 Apr

Three California Public Utilities Commission proposed decisions largely approve the private utilities’ wildfire mitigation plans, but their multi-billion dollar price tags don’t get the green light. CPUC Administrative Law Judges Sarah Thomas and Peter Allen proposed guidance for the trio of utilities’ mitigation plans under SB 901 states that cost recovery “is a separate matter,” […]

JUICE: Muddy Waters & Rates

30 Apr

While passing through a corner of Nevada along Highway 395 during a drive to the Eastern side of the Sierra I was struck by the differences in the price of gasoline in the Golden and Silver states. Filling up in Nevada April 19, I paid $3.30 a gallon, saving well over a dollar per gallon. […]

PG&E Safety Gaps Highlighted

16 Apr

In spite of ongoing safety issues and problems at Pacific Gas & Electric, the company lacks a “comprehensive safety strategy,” the California Public Utilities Commission was told April 15. PG&E does not have “a coordinated safety strategy that takes a look at the whole,” said Angela Anderson, project manager for Northstar Consulting. The company has […]