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Newsom Beefs Up Fire Fighting Budget, Adds Social Distancing Plan

9 Jul

As summer temperatures increase, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the addition of 858 fire fighters in CaFire ranks and six new California Conservation crews. Safety protocols to avoid the spread of Covid-19 will be in place for firefighters and those evacuated. “Even in a challenging budget climate, we have undertaken major action and made significant investments […]

Building Electrification Gets Broad Support

9 Jul

Struggling Californians make up 40% of the population and suffer a disproportionate share of indoor pollution, principally from gas-fueled appliances. A new report, Towards an Accessible Financing Solution, offers a blueprint for financing strategies to drive the electrification of the homes of low-income people. Currently, home clean energy retrofits are principally reaped by Californians who […]

CA Prepares to Rely More on Microgrids

7 Jul

Updated July 8 California is trying to deploy microgrids as fast as possible to prevent blackouts during wildfires and power shutoffs. The push going forward is to find out how to make them pencil out, bring them into the 21st century and make them environmentally friendly. “We have got to get cleaner and quieter backup,” […]

Shorts

6 Jul

July 8 update Neither the Assembly nor Senate will return to Sacramento next week as planned. The California Senate made the announcement in a July 8 letter, the day after the Assembly cancelled reconvening July 13 because five who work at the Capitol tested positive for Covid-19, including at least one lawmaker, the San Francisco […]

The Buzz

2 Jul

Before the start of the fireworks, Pacific Gas & Electric announced it funded most of the $6.75 billion cash payment to fire victims. It also lined up another $12 billion to pay insurance claims as well as cities impacted by utility-sparked fires that burned from 2015-2018. Hydrogen fuel to lower transportation emissions, California’s biggest source […]

PG&E Has $17B on Hand for Fire Victims & Cities

1 Jul

Updated July 2 Pacific Gas & Electric announced July 1 it funded much of the cash portion of its $13.5 billion settlement with victims of wildfires from 2015-18, as well as the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire. PG&E funded the victim trust with $5.4 billion in cash. It will receive a further $650 million cash […]

CA Budget Seeds PG&E Alternative

1 Jul

There is a clue in the new budget agreed to by lawmakers and the governor that they are serious about taking over PG&E and turning it into a non-profit utility. The budget contains a provision for a $50 million loan to the new entity under the newly enacted SB 350. That law says PG&E would […]

Bill Creating a Public Gas & Electric Becomes Law

30 Jun

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law June 30 legislation creating a state takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric if it is unable to complete its $58 billion in post bankruptcy financing by Sept. 30. If poorly maintained utility equipment causes another fire or disaster that also would trigger the takeover under SB 350 by Sen. […]

The Buzz

18 Jun

Landowners’ legal challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s practice of allowing land to be seized for a pipeline before deciding whether to reconsider a granted permit forces FERC to ease its rehearing rules. However, the one dissenting commissioner says the new rule is a hollow victory for aggrieved property owners. Private and public utilities […]

Humboldt Towns Protected Against Shutoffs, Locals Say the Change is Overdue

16 Jun

When power is deliberately shut off to avoid fires amid high wind in Pacific Gas & Electric territory, 20 cities along the North Coast won’t have to worry. That is because PG&E reconfigured its 163 MW natural gas fired power plant in Humboldt County so it can disconnect from the grid and continue supplying the […]

Packed CPUC Agenda Includes Approving PG&E Diesel Backup

11 Jun

State utility regulators June 11 addressed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop and continued systematic racism near and far, including at the California Public Utilities Commission. They also held 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to remember Floyd’s death on May 25. Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma said that while the five commissioners […]

CPUC Okays IOUs $15B Fire Risk Reduction Plans

11 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday signed off on all the utilities’ 2020 wildfire mitigation plans despite “significant concerns,” raised by staff. The total tab of the plans by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric is an estimated $15 billion. Regulators, however, did not discuss the price […]

PG&E Takeover Bill Passes Key Assembly Vote

9 Jun

Updated June 10 Legislation to allow California to seize Pacific Gas & Electric’s electric and gas infrastructure if the company fails to finance its $58 billion reorganization plan by the end of September or starts another large fire passed the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee on a 12-2 vote. “It is a bill I hope […]

The Buzz

4 Jun

Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to reduce wildfire threats and safety outages is half empty or half full, depending on your perspective. While the CPUC President says she is optimistic about the improvements in the 2020 plan, she has doubts about it being successfully implemented. In spite of the concerns, none are raised about its […]

Success of PG&E’s Wildfire Plan Iffy, Lawmakers Told

4 Jun

With the threat of wildfires approaching, lawmakers wanted details on Pacific Gas & Electric’s mitigation plans, including how it will reduce the impacts of its public safety shutoffs during hot and windy conditions. Rachel Peterson, deputy director of the California Public Utilities Commission, reported to the Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee that PG&E was […]

JUICE: Small is Beautiful

2 Jun

As appalling as Pacific Gas & Electric’s track record of safety deficiencies has been over the years—from sparking massive wildfires to gas pipeline blowouts—turning it into a centralized public utility could be worse. It could create one big albatross hanging on Californians’ collective neck.   The high stakes matter is riddled with financial, legal, and […]

Diesel and Gas Backup Generator Bills Advance

1 Jun

Two bills promoting the use of diesel and natural gas fueled backup generation during planned safety outages passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee May 27. SB 1099 by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) relieves hospitals and other critical facilities that fire up diesel generators during power outages of any threat–real or perceived–that they will be fined […]

The Buzz

28 May

The California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s huge debt package to get it out of federal bankruptcy court by the end of June as directed by state legislation.   Moving on a parallel track is legislation setting the stage for California to seize PG&E’s gas and electric assets. Putting the utility under […]

CPUC Gives PG&E Bankruptcy Plan the Green Light

28 May

State utility regulators May 28 unanimously signed off on a $58 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan for Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility. Marybel Batjer, California Public Utilities Commission president, said the plan leaves some important power in the hands of regulators, including the ability to force PG&E to prioritize customer safety. She said that, […]

Hearing on PG&E Takeover Bill Delayed

28 May

A key vote on dramatic legislation allowing the state to turn Pacific Gas & Electric into a state-owned, non-profit power agency was postponed May 28. Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee Chair Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) said the author asked for more time to work out the provisions of SB 350, creating Golden State Energy. SB 350’s […]