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PG&E Restores Power in Fire Regions Where Possible

17 Oct

The massive fires that led to more than 40 deaths and torched huge swaths of Northern California tripped transmission and distribution lines maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric. Three 230 kV lines, and a 115 kV and one 60 kV line in Sonoma and Napa Counties were shorted out early last week by the Tubbs, […]

U.S. Senate Panel Aims to Cut Power-Related Wildfires

20 Sep

Western forests are “tinderboxes for wildfire” after the prolonged drought, warned Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) during a Sept. 19 hearing by U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which she chairs, on vegetation management mandates for electricity infrastructure on federal lands. There have been hundreds of wildfires on public lands in the West because of […]

CA Exodus from Federal Advisory Roles

6 Sep

California is steadily losing its voice when it comes to federal energy and environmental policy as the Trump Administration either alienates or removes Californians from various advisory committees and delegations in Washington. In the latest move, The Trump Administration notified Carl Zichella Sept. 1 that he would not be reappointed to the Department of Energy’s […]

The Buzz

25 Aug

State utility regulators okayed a shift in the peak pricing period to later in the day for San Diego Gas & Electric customers. Industry advocates warn it erodes the economic advantages of rooftop solar. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gets an education about how the grid operates. A Department of Energy staff report he requested […]

Transmission Lines Avoid Being Scorched in Modoc & Berkeley

3 Aug

The governor declared a state of emergency in Modoc County Aug. 2 because a fire that began July 24 has burned thousands of acres and came too close for comfort to energy infrastructure.  On Aug. 2, a fire in the hills above Berkeley and Oakland threatened Pacific Gas & Electric transmission lines. The governor’s emergency […]

Undercurrents: Blackout Highlights Old Electrical Infrastructure

11 Jul

Aging infrastructure was on display July 8 when a high-voltage transformer used at a transmission line receiving station exploded and burst into flames in Los Angeles in the early evening. It triggered a power outage for 140,000 households and businesses. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power station, built during the 1950s, is used […]

Undercurrents: San Juan Capistrano Challenges the CPUC’s Approval of SDG&E Project

27 Jun

Editor’s Note: this article was updated June 29. The City of San Juan Capistrano filed suit against the California Public Utilities Commission for approving San Diego Gas & Electric’s South Orange County transmission upgrade project last December. The city claims the project, which would add $400 million to the ratebase, is not needed for reliability […]

Undercurrents: Trade Complaint Casts Shadow Over Solar Industry

19 Jun

A trade complaint filed by bankrupt photovoltaic cell manufacturer Suniva is being officially investigated by the International Trade Commission. It could recommend that President Trump levy tariffs as early as this fall. Suniva, which is based in Georgia but largely is owned by Chinese interests, is advocating that a duty of 40 cents per watt […]

Trump’s Sale of WAPA & BPA Lines is a Lead Balloon

23 May

The Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 federal budget, released May 23, puts a for sale sign on federally-owned power lines in the West. However, selling the transmission assets of the Western Area Power Administration, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Southwestern Power Administration will face major resistance from federal lawmakers from the West and Northwest. Carl […]

CPUC to Revise Undergrounding Wire Rules & Provide More Gas Access in Central Valley

11 May

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved moving to revise its rules on the undergrounding of utility electric wires, including how undergrounding projects are chosen and who pays. The rulemaking approved May 11 is aimed at helping determine which underground projects are in the public interest, including how much to focus in urban, suburban, rural […]

CPUC Approves Major Edison Substation Upgrade

9 Feb

The California Public Utilities Commission Feb. 9 gave the green light to Southern California Edison to build a major new substation in Monterey Park and upgrade associated transmission lines at total cost of $561 million. The project will replace the existing 220 kV Mesa substation with a new 500 kV substation and bolster connecting transmission […]

JUICE: Battle of the Billionaires

26 Jan

As President Donald Trump packs his cabinet with those determined to jump start the coal industry, a battle of billionaires largely under the news radar is shaping up that could be good for California, particularly under a regionalized grid In final actions, Obama’s Interior Department and the Western Area Power Administration last week approved a […]

$10 B in New Western Transmission Would Make Way for 37% Wind in U.S.

11 Jan

Wind energy could provide more than 35 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2050 with the development of four specific transmission expansions estimated to cost $10.1 billion, according to a new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “Absent significant upgrades to the western transmission network, we find that a substantial amount of renewable energy […]

JUICE: Elephants in the Grid Room

5 Jan

Editor’ Note:  With this issue we are launching our Trump Watch, which covers moves and actions by the incoming administration that threaten or clash with California’s years of policies, rules and laws to move its electricity sector away from fossil fuels.   That California’s climate protection and alternative energy policies clash with the incoming Trump […]

CPUC Unanimously OKs Largest Private Utility EV Charging Program

15 Dec

In their final meeting of the year and the last one for outgoing commissioners Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval, state energy regulators approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s hefty but scaled back pilot electric vehicle charging program. At a cost to ratepayers of $130 million, it is the most expensive and largest of the three private […]

TransWest & Gateway South Lines Win Interior Department Approvals

15 Dec

The Interior Department Dec. 13 approved two major transmission projects that could play a big role in any integrated western grid and help California access out-of-state renewable energy—including wind power from Wyoming—to meet its 2030 renewable energy goal. The approvals were coupled with a memorandum of understanding between the federal department and California to streamline […]

CA Fiddling with Distributed Resources to Reduce Risks, Says Regulator

3 Nov

  California has no grand vision for increasing the amount of distributed energy resources used to meet its energy needs, according to a key state utility regulator. Instead, it is “taking baby steps” by trying a number of approaches on a small scale to see what works. (more…)

CPUC Okays $260M SDG&E High Voltage Modernization

13 Oct

The California Public Utilities Commission Oct. 13 approved on a 4-0 vote San Diego Gas & Electric’s $260 million Sycamore-Peñasquitos 230 kV transmission line project. It largely is to replace mostly wood structures between the existing Sycamore Canyon and Peñasquitos substations. (more…)

JUICE: Naughty & Nice

17 Dec

Here’s California Current’s 2015 rundown of the best and worst in the energy world directly and indirectly affecting California. (more…)

Mixing and Matching Vehicles and the Grid

17 Dec

Tapping into the benefits of integrating electric vehicles into an evolving grid raises a host of technological challenges. Known and emerging challenges are the subject of ongoing research aimed at making the governor’s target of a million zero emission vehicles in California by 2020 a reality. (more…)