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CPUC Directs Shareholders Pay IOU Bonuses, Approves SDG&E Budgets

13 Dec

State energy regulators’ Dec. 13 signed off on a decision requiring that executive bonuses paid to private utility executives, which are in excess of $1 million, be paid by shareholders, not ratepayers. The change is required by the new wildfire liability legislation, SB 901, which was enacted in September. This new California Public Utilities Commission […]

JUICE: Flying a Jet Plane?

12 Dec

California may create a central power purchasing agency to fill gaps in the state’s electricity supply to ensure the grid remains reliable, and possibly to act as the provider of last resort. The state essentially did the same some 17 years ago with less than stellar results, though the circumstances were different. Out of the […]

State Energy Buyer Bill Introduced; One to Thwart Utility Bankruptcies is a No Show

4 Dec

A key state lawmaker Dec. 3 held off on introducing legislation to keep California’s investor-owned utilities from being driven into bankruptcy by billions of dollars in potential wildfire liability claims. Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) said he had planned to introduce the measure on Monday when new lawmakers were sworn in. Holden, who chairs the Assembly […]

SDG&E Wants Out of Power Supply Business

29 Nov

San Diego Gas & Electric, which has some of the highest power rates in the nation, wants to jettison its role of providing power to customers and become strictly an electricity transmission and distribution company. The utility says it’s primarily motivated by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to form a community aggregation program in […]

Undercurrents: No High Use Charge with TOU Rates

13 Nov

The California Public Utilities Commission is moving to default time-of-use rates for residential electricity ratepayers. But one of the catches is that the new default rate to begin next year will eliminate surcharges on energy hogs, according to speakers at the CPUC’s residential rate hearing held Nov. 13. When you take away the high energy […]

Fires Threaten Utility Finances & Lead to CPUC Rulemakings

13 Nov

Updated Nov. 15. Given utility infrastructure may have ignited two massive wildfires that started last week, the importance of a yet-formed committee tasked with assessing wildfire risks and making recommendations on costs and liability under a 2018 bill is growing exponentially. Pacific Gas & Electric stock fell as low as $17.26 per share on Nov. […]

Shorts

6 Nov

Updated Nov. 8. San Diego Gas & Electric filed a proposed settlement agreement at the California Public Utilities Commission Nov. 5 to try and bolster its involvement in electric vehicle charging. Under it, the utility would spend $107.4 million on make-ready infrastructure to support installation of 300 electric vehicle chargers for 3,000 to 6,068 medium […]

CA Set to Meet 2020 Renewable Standard

1 Nov

California is on target to meet that state’s 33 percent renewable portfolio standard, according to a California Public Utilities Commission report to the Legislature on Nov. 1. However, community choice aggregators and direct access providers will have to pick up their pace in procuring renewable energy. “California continues on its path to a 100 percent […]

Just 25% of Required Utility Storage is Online

1 Nov

Only one-fourth of the 1,325 MW of energy storage investor-owned utilities are required to have in place in little more than two years is currently operational, according the California Public Utilities Commission. The utilities have lined up a total 1,650 MW of storage deals and 1,047 MW worth of those projects have been approved. Currently, […]

Shorts

30 Oct

San Diego Gas & Electric’s new synchrophasor sensors can turn off power on lines that break before they hit the ground, thereby averting sparks that could start a fire. SDG&E highlighted the new system late last month, which works by detecting voltage changes. Sensors along circuits report conditions up to 60 times a second through […]

High, Hot Winds Prompt Utilities to Shut Off Power

15 Oct

Strong winds across wide stretches of California moved electric utilities Oct. 14 to turn off power in several areas to prevent equipment from sparking wildfires. The shut offs were preceded by notices of possible power outages. Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to 17,500 customers in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, and more than 42,000 […]

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 […]

CPUC Okays Storage Projects & Funds to Control Gas Leaks

11 Oct

Utility regulators Oct. 11 delayed approving utility research and development plans funded through the Electric Program Investment Charge program, but okayed energy storage contracts for two utilities, and the collecting of rates to control methane leaks from utility pipelines. Without comment, the California Public Utilities Commission approved six energy storage contracts for Pacific Gas & […]

SB 901 Saves Utilities from Even Lower Credit Ratings

4 Oct

California’s three major investor-owned energy utilities suffered credit downgrades last month by Moody’s, which would have been worse without the enactment of SB 901. The legislation signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown loosens regulators’ criteria for evaluating rate recovery for liability and allows ratepayer-backed bonds to cover costs arising from wildfires started by electric […]

CPUC Delves Into Reducing Utility Disconnections

15 Aug

Regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission kicked off a proceeding Aug. 15 that’s aimed at reducing the rising rate of energy service disconnections stemming from non-payment of monthly electricity and gas bills. Data show that more than 70,000 customers have their power or gas shut off each month due to non-payment. The CPUC opened […]

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 […]

Undercurrents

17 Jul

The state’s investor-owned utilities will release their second quarter earnings statements later this month, and the results likely will be mixed. Pacific Gas & Electric announced that it expects to post a big loss. There is no indication, however, that the other two utility holding companies, Edison International and Sempra Energy, will do so. PG&E […]

CPUC Focuses on Power Shutoffs

12 Jul

State energy regulators July 12 unanimously approved opening a rulemaking to assess the cause of the growing rate of residential utility disconnections because of non-payment. The goal is to reduce shutoffs. The California Public Utilities Commission also voted  to enhance utilities’ ability to de-energize power lines during risky weather events, such as hot high winds. […]

Undercurrents

10 Jul

The harm to the marine environment from using ocean water to cool power plants is more widespread than thought, according to a new research report by the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory Team. The Council, a state agency, released the report July 9. It showed that ocean currents connect separate marine protection zones, essentially spreading […]

Wildfire Liability Bill Goes to Conference Committee

3 Jul

Details of Sen. Bill Dodd’s SB 901 are to be hammered out in a legislative conference committee. That includes terms of standards governing when utilities could be held liable for wildfire damages. The Napa Democrat’s measure would set standards requiring utilities to improve their efforts to prevent wildfires, including more effort to clear vegetation around […]