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PG&E Stock Falls Further After Legal Ruling

20 Aug

Pacific Gas & Electric’s stock remained in the dumps Aug. 20 after a federal bankruptcy court Aug. 16 lifted a freeze on some $18 billion in claims stemming from the 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County. While CalFire found the devastating fire, which swept through Santa Rosa, was caused by private electrical equipment rather than […]

News Analysis: As PG&E Retreats Others Fill the Void

19 Aug

By Fereidoon P. Sioshansi To avoid wildfire lawsuits utilities are driving customers to self-generation and storage. For the second time in its long history, Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s biggest investor-owned utility, is under bankruptcy protection. Both times, you might say, the company fell on hard times not because of what it did but because […]

The Buzz

15 Aug

The California Public Utilities Commission says goodbye to President Mike Picker. The five commissioners also approve new decade-long energy efficiency targets and SDG&E’s $100 million heavy-duty vehicle electrification program. The California Independent System Operator gets a CEC pat on the back for being the new Reliability Coordinator. The Energy Commission also adopts impressive new rules […]

Microgrids Can Create Community Energy Resilience

8 Aug

Microgrids offer increasing promise in making communities resilient to climate change by providing electricity for critical facilities during power outages or when utilities turn off power lines to prevent wildfires, researchers and community leaders told the California Energy Commission Aug. 8. They spoke to CEC members during a workshop this week on making the state’s […]

Lawmakers to Deal with Wildfire Power Shutoff Fallout

7 Aug

When lawmakers return to Sacramento next week, they’ll face key votes on energy legislation dealing with how to provide backup power to meet critical community needs when power lines are shut down to prevent wildfires. Power shutoffs when winds blow can hamper crucial facilities, like water and communications systems, and affect the ability of residents […]

Batjer to Head CPUC

15 Jul

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Marybel Batjer as president of the California Public Utilities Commission July 12. He also signed utility wildfire liability reform legislation hurried through the Legislature last week. “Marybel’s deep experience in government administration and sound judgment make her uniquely qualified to take on this important role,” said Newsom. “I am confident she […]

Assembly Panel Approvals Keep Energy Bills Alive

12 Jul

As legislators hustled last week to move bills through final policy committees up against a July 12 deadline, the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee on July 10 advanced numerous energy bills assuring they’ll be further considered after the summer recess. The panel advanced three measures by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) aimed at improving the […]

Newsom Set to Sign Utility Wildfire Bill

11 Jul

Major utility wildfire liability legislation is on its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign into law after the Assembly July 11 passed AB 1054 by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) on an overwhelming 63-8 vote. Holden’s measure, which is modeled after concepts developed by the Newsom Administration, will create a new state-run wildfire insurance fund […]

Juice: Staving Off Chaos

9 Jul

Lawmakers are rolling the dice in Sacramento this week, betting that legislation to set up a state-run wildfire insurance fund for California’s financially beleaguered investor-owned electric utilities will resolve damages stemming from past utility-sparked fires plus stave off major conflagrations in the decade ahead. The measure, AB 1054, will establish a state insurance fund for […]

Senate Backs Newsom’s Wildfire Proposal

8 Jul

Updated July 9, 2019. The state Senate late on July 8 passed a  bill to set up a $40 billion wildfire fund to stabilize the state’s investor-owned utilities and to bankroll payouts to victims of past utility-sparked fires. Passage came after earlier in the afternoon the Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee approved the measure, […]

PG&E Finds More than 260,000 Line Safety Issues

19 Jun

Recently completed safety inspections of Pacific Gas & Electric transmission and distribution lines in high fire-risk areas turned up 263,000 problems, the utility stated June 19. “The unmistakable message of the inspection results is that we as a company must do a much better job of making sure that we maintain our assets in a […]

PG&E Settles on Fires with Local Governments

19 Jun

Pacific Gas & Electric will pay a total of $1 billion to 18 local agencies to resolve claims stemming from wildfires in 2015, 2017, and 2018 under a mediated settlement reached June 18. The agreement, which does not affect claims against PG&E filed by residents and businesses, must be approved by a federal bankruptcy court. […]

Bills Address Solar Systems in Wildfire Areas

18 Jun

The state Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee advanced two bills dealing with electricity and wildfires on June 18. One measure, AB 178 by Sen. Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), would exempt fire victims rebuilding their homes from a state requirement to put solar panels on their roofs. Dahle said his bill, which was opposed by environmental […]

Ratepayers Face Billions of Wildfire Costs

6 Jun

Under pressure to act on the mounting financial impacts of wildfires including those sparked by electric utilities, lawmakers face fundamental choices as the end of the legislative session begins to come into view. Almost all of them involve handing ratepayers much of the tab for untold billions of dollars of utility wildfire expenses. The choices […]

Newsom & Lawmakers Reject Revising Strict Liability

3 Jun

As the Legislature looks ahead to summer, the governor and leading legislators have made it clear that setting up a wildfire insurance fund will be the chief priority in the coming months instead of changing state liability law. Facing massive liabilities for wildfires sparked by electric lines, utilities have continued to call for revising the […]

Official Says CPUC is Ill-Prepared on Wildfire Safety

22 May

The California Public Utilities Commission will act blindly when it approves massive wildfire mitigation plans filed by power utilities that were called for by state lawmakers, the commission’s top safety official said this week. “There is no standard or framework for the CPUC to evaluate these plans,” Elizaveta Malashenko, CPUC executive director for safety and […]

Gov.’s Budget Revise Eyes More for CPUC & Low Carbon Programs

9 May

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “May revise” of his fiscal 2019-20 budget will boost money for the California Public Utilities Commission and also expenditures of cap-and-trade funds for affordable housing, sustainability and resiliency priorities. The proposed increases come amid rising state revenue. “The California Dream must be built on a strong fiscal foundation,” said Newsom May 9. […]

Lawmakers Confront Looming Utility Liability

9 May

State legislators face tough decisions in the coming months as they grapple with the state’s energy utilities’ growing wildfire costs. At issue is more than utility liability for the recent fires. The bigger problem, according to state officials and experts, is the cost of future fires. It is estimated that a risk liability pool funded […]

Wildfire Catastrophe Fund Bill Clears Key Panel

25 Apr

The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee backed a measure to establish a state-organized wildfire insurance fund that utilities could pay into in the absence of adequate fire liability policies in the insurance market. Meeting April 25, the panel approved AB 235, The California Wildfire Catastrophe Fund Act by Assemblymember Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), on a […]

Senate Panel Backs Irrigation Big Hydro as Renewable

24 Apr

A state Senate committee April 24 voted to let the Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts meet their renewable portfolio standard requirements with power generated by the 203 MW Don Pedro Hydropower Project on the Tuolumne River. Today, power from such large dams is not considered eligible as a renewable resource. The panel also backed bills […]