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JUICE: The Direct Access Elephant

16 Oct

Energy regulators’ controversial vote last week to raise the fees on customers who’ve left investor-owned utilities for community energy programs is not expected to halt or significantly impede existing and emerging community aggregators up and down the state. The estimated 15 percent increase in community energy programs’ share of utility generation costs under the newly […]

Undercurrents

15 Oct

Updated Oct. 18. To meet California’s ambitious 100 percent clean energy mandate, natural gas-fired space and water heaters need to be phased out. The ideal replacement is efficient electric heat pump technology, according to a new report, Decarbonization of Heating Energy Use in California Buildings: Technology, Markets, Impacts, and Policy Solutions. “Switching to electric heat […]

CPUC Hits Community Choice with Higher Costs

11 Oct

Facing significant opposition in a shifting energy world, the California Public Utilities Commission Oct. 11 unanimously approved a decision that will raise the bills of community energy and direct access customers by shifting more private utility portfolio costs onto them. In voting this week, commissioners backed revisions to the controversial Power Charge Indifference Adjustment methodology […]

Newsom & Cox Clash on Energy & Climate Change

9 Oct

Gubernatorial candidates Gavin Newsom and John Cox squared off Oct. 8 in a debate on KQED, clashing over energy and climate policy. Cox, the Republican champion, emphasized the need to pursue “affordable” energy and climate change policies. Newsom endorsed the Gov. Jerry Brown’s current direction, which he said is creating new job opportunities and “green […]

Shorts

9 Oct

A 40 year-old law that requires utilities to buy power from renewable generators and co-generators should be waived in states with competitive solicitation requirements and other measures that ensure all technologies access to the power market. That’s the recommendation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a new white paper from the National Association of […]

PG&E Seeks Another Transmission Rate Increase

2 Oct

Pacific Gas & Electric asked federal energy regulators for a 9.5 percent increase in transmission fees, which would mark an increase from a projected $1.79 billion this year to a $1.96 transmission revenue requirement for 2019. The proposed increase to PG&E’s 2019 transmission rate case, made in an Oct. 1 filing to the Federal Energy […]

West Saw Record summer Power Prices, Says EIA

25 Sep

Power prices this past summer were the highest in the western U.S. since 2008, according to an Energy Information Administration report released Sept. 25. A separate EIA analysis showed that almost one-third of U.S. households regularly struggle to pay their energy bills. Power prices surged in the West this summer, particularly in California, due largely […]

Brown Signs SB 901 & Bills Impacting Energy Sector

24 Sep

A new state law allows utilities to borrow money through bonds to cover uninsured wildfire costs subject to California Public Utilities Commission review. The new law, SB 901, also authorizes spending $200 million a year from state carbon cap-and-trade revenue for the next five years to reduce wildfire fuel by thinning forests and conducting controlled […]

Climate Change Puts Pressure on Utility Rates

12 Sep

Global warming is increasingly driving energy utility expenditures and could lead to higher utility rates in the years ahead, a key state energy official said Sept. 12. Utilities, said Cliff Rechtschaffen, California Public Utilities Commission member, already are factoring the impacts of global warming into what they seek as revenue requirements in their general rate […]

PCIA Alternate Threatens Choice Programs, Say Aggregators

11 Sep

Updated Sept. 12, 2018. A proposed alternate decision on how to handle “exit” charges from investor-owned utilities for community choice aggregation programs and direct access providers is drawing substantial support from consumer advocates and utilities. Community choice aggregators, however, maintain that if the alternate decision by California Public Utilities Commission member Carla Peterman is adopted […]

JUICE: Eyes Wide Shut on Wildfire Liability Bill

11 Sep

Lawmakers promised a transparent process for the bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown dealing with liability for utility-sparked wildfires fueled by multi-year drought, legions of dead and dying trees and higher temperatures. Yet, the final provisions and costs of SB 901 by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) were anything but transparent. Transparent is defined as “free […]

Two Dozen Senate Energy Bills Sent to Governor

4 Sep

Gov. Jerry Brown has to decide if a number of bills should become law, including Senate measures to increase direct access for businesses, overhaul utility energy efficiency programs, increase mandated energy storage levels, and create new incentives for near zero emissions space and water heating in buildings. Brown also has to decide whether to sign […]

Bills Bolster Private Utilities’ Bottom Line & Building Emission Cuts

4 Sep

In a last-minute rewrite with minimal transparency, lawmakers passed a bill shielding Pacific Gas & Electric shareholders from massive wildfire liability but lacked similar gusto to pass legislation allowing for a regionalization of California’s electric grid. The grid regionalization bill, the two-year AB 813, remained stuck in the Rules Committee throughout the final two weeks […]

Utility Wildfire Liability Bill Rises from the Ash

29 Aug

New life was breathed into legislation to reduce utilities’ wildfire liability Aug. 28 that seemingly had been left in the char last week. SB 901 was declared all but dead and subsequent scheduled legislative conference committee hearings on the measure were cancelled. Then, the bill was overhauled behind closed doors. Few committee members or stakeholders […]

SB 100 Heads to Governor’s Desk

29 Aug

Updated Aug. 30, 2018. Sen. Kevin De León’s bill to require 100 percent clean power in California by 2045 passed the Assembly 44-33 in the early evening of Aug. 28. The next day, the state Senate concurred on a 25-13 vote with the amended Assembly version of the measure. The bill, SB 100, now goes […]

Proposal Okays Rate Recovery for Aliso Canyon During Long Leak

29 Aug

SoCal Gas ratepayers would be on the hook for the costs of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field during the months it was virtually inoperable because of a massive methane leak under a proposed California Public Utilities Commission decision. Utility customers’ current rates do not cover the costs the utility incurred during the months-long […]

OPINIONATED: Go Back to Aliso Canyon Deal Drawing Board

28 Aug

By V. John White Three years ago, Aliso Canyon was home to the largest methane leak in U.S. history, resulting in dozens of hospitalizations, the release of more than 100,000 tons of potent GHG emissions, and the evacuation of more than 10,000 families. Earlier this month, the state attorney general and California Air Resources Board […]

JUICE: Fire, Fury & Finances

20 Aug

The collapse of legislative efforts to shield utilities from liability when their power lines spark wildfires—even when they’ve followed all safety rules—may be seen as a moral victory by the bill’s opponents. But, electric power ratepayers won’t be protected from higher bills in the years ahead. The effort collapsed under major pressure from consumer advocates, […]

PCIA Alternate Rejects Cost Limits on Utility Deals

20 Aug

Proposed restrictions on how much, and for how long, community aggregators and direct access customers are on the hook for their estimated share of private utility energy contracts would be tossed out under an alternate proposal released last week. California Public Utilities Commission member Carla Peterman’s alternate decision to reform the controversial Power Charge Indifference […]

Plan to Curb Utility Wildfire Liability Faces Pushback

10 Aug

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to legislatively amend the decades–long court created legal doctrine that holds utilities strictly liable for wildfire damage faced strong head winds at an Aug. 9 legislative conference committee hearing. At issue is who’s responsible for the massive liability tab from the destruction arising from utility-sparked wildfires: ratepayers, local governments, insurance companies […]