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News Roundup: Diablo Goes Down during Flex Alert

15 Oct

Updated Oct. 16 Temperatures at the Southern California coast and in parts of northern California are projected to be 15-25 degrees above normal and the state grid operator has called for residents and businesses to conserve electricity. Making matters worse is that the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and its 2,200 megawatts of power went offline. […]

The Buzz

2 Oct

Pacific Gas & Electric seeks a couple of billion dollars more from ratepayer pocketbooks for utility-sparked wildfires in 2017 and 2018. It also asks state regulators for the green light to put its long-time headquarters in San Francisco up for sale. It says it will give the gain to customers. In other news, the grid […]

CPUC, not SCE, Calls Shots on Ratepayer Bonds, Lawmaker Says

1 Oct

Southern California Edison is threatening to use pricier financing to recoup $337 million in wildfire costs if the California Public Utilities Commission doesn’t okay its controversial plan to issue bonds fully secured by ratepayers. SCE says it will recover the costs “through traditional utility financing, which will cost customers more,” in an opening brief filed […]

The Buzz

25 Sep

Southern California Edison reaches a $2 billion settlement with insurance firms that paid business and residential claims for their losses from wildfires in 2017-18 fires and mudslides. It includes funds for claims filed through mid-2023. The same day, the City of San Diego formally opens bidding for its electric and gas right-of-way franchise. It has […]

New Bonds Put Ratepayers 100% on the Hook, and the Tab?

23 Sep

Consumer advocates are warning that a test case before the California Public Utilities Commission will set a grave precedent for Californians if regulators give it the okay. At issue is how much private utilities get to charge ratepayers for bonds they issue to cover their wildfire costs, including protecting against blazes. Southern California Edison plans […]

The Buzz

11 Sep

Northern San Diegans vigorously protest San Diego’s plan to upgrade and extend a big power line from San Marcos to Escondido. After listening to concerns about fire and financial dangers, as well as visual blight, the California Public Utilities Commission pulls the item from this week’s business meeting. In other news, the utility regulators learn […]

Rising Concern Over Diesel Generators

25 Aug

Pacific Gas & Electric came under fire for relying on diesel generators at a special joint energy and air agency day-long meeting Aug. 25. The utility is now moving large generators into 62 substations to provide backup power to communities in the event of outages provoked by fire. But generators owned by PG&E and others […]

The Buzz

14 Aug

Triple digit temperatures across much of the state starting today will significantly drive up peak demand. The grid operator calls on customers to conserve energy the afternoon and evening of Aug. 14 to avoid overtaxing the grid because of a surge in air conditioning. Some warn that demand response is largely being left out of […]

Officials Demand PG&E Limit Shutoffs, Protect the Vulnerable

14 Aug

After Pacific Gas & Electric’s damaging shutoffs last fall, state officials demanded Aug. 13 that it immediately work with county health officials to ensure the most physically vulnerable residents have essential power. State officials applied a much heavier hand to PG&E than to the two private southern California utilities. Earlier this week, representatives from Southern […]

Officials Grill So. CA Utility Execs Over Wildfire Preparation

11 Aug

California investor-owned utilities pledged to reduce the extent and duration of their power shutoffs this year. They also assured regulators this week that they’ve taken steps to thwart the spread of Covid-19 at community centers during fires and outages, and to protect medically vulnerable customers. Utility regulators and fire and emergency response agencies grilled utility […]

The Buzz

16 Jul

PG&E sparked last fall’s Kincaid wildfire, CalFire reveals. State regulators launch a cutting edge framework for figuring how big a hit combined utility bills are for low income ratepayers. The scrutinized tab will include electricity, gas, telecommunication and water bills. More than two years after the near-devastating crumbling of the Oroville dam spillway, federal energy […]

PG&E Sparked Last Fall’s Kincaid Fire, CalFire Finds

16 Jul

Following an investigation, Cal-Fire concluded July 16 that Pacific Gas & Electric was responsible for starting the Kincaid Fire near Geyserville, in Sonoma County, last October. The fire began Oct. 23 and burned until Nov. 6, destroying 374 structures and scorching nearly 78,000 acres. The announcement comes less than a month after PG&E emerged from […]

A 21st Century Distribution System Will Provide Economic Recovery

15 Jul

In response to the Covid-19 economic downturn, energy sector stakeholders are calling for a national transmission system and grid modernization but California should take a state-centric approach. “Local level economic recovery can come from distribution system modernization,” V. John White, Center for energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies executive director, told Current. The benefit of investments […]

Shorts

14 Jul

More than one third of California’s electricity last year was fueled by solar, wind and other qualifying renewables under the state’s clean energy mandate. According to the California Energy Commission, 36% of retail electric sales were supplied by renewable resources, exceeding the 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard’s 2020 mandate. “As we move to 100% clean electricity […]

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 […]

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,” […]

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 […]

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