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The Buzz

9 Feb 2018

California utility regulators extend their control over community choice aggregation programs this week by mandating that they participate in the California Public Utilities Commission’s integrated resource planning and resource adequacy processes.

The CPUC holds an experimental webinar to answer written questions from financial firms as utilities complain of deteriorating financial conditions...


Utility Financial Stability Concerns Come to Fore

8 Feb 2018

In an unusual move, four members of the California Public Utilities Commission Feb. 8 answered written questions submitted by the so called "public” concerning the financial stability of the state’s investor-owned utilities in the face of regulatory policy and the growing impacts of climate change, particularly wildfires.

The one-hour webinar—called an experiment in communications by commissioners—came after what they called an increase in requests over the past several months to meet with financial and credit rating firms...


The Buzz

2 Feb 2018

California energy regulators and fire safety agencies are working together to try and curb the dangers of the growing numbers of intense wildfires, with a worrisome number sparked by power lines. The California Public Utilities Commission president and other officials lament the inadequacy of resources, policies and preparation during an all day meeting.

Fire safety scientists also warn that California faces mounting fire danger because of climate change impacts...


Regulators Grapple with Growing Fire Dangers

1 Feb 2018

How to reduce the risk of more frequent and intense wildfires in the state, with a worrisome number sparked by utility equipment, was the subject of a Jan. 31 California Public Utilities Commission meeting attended by all five commissioners.

“The ferocity of events we face outstrips our resources, policies and preparation,” warned Mike Picker, CPUC president, during the all day en banc hearing...


The Buzz

26 Jan 2018

Front and center stage in Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State is his climate protection work   While he provided few specifics on how forthcoming carbon cap-and-trade auction funds would be divvied up, he insists that we can’t fight nature.

Over at the California Energy Commission, projects to reduce home natural gas use and utility bills appear to have accomplished just that.

The State Attorney General seeks to further California’s clean energy laws and practices by challenging the Trump Administration...


OPINIONATED: The Sorry State Of Demand Response, Smart Meters/Dumb Tariffs

22 Jan 2018

 By Fereidoon Sioshansi

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct an annual survey of demand response and advanced metering in the U.S. The 12th edition of the report was released in Dec. 2017 and anyone looking for major revelations is likely to be disappointed.

Not much happens from year to year in the slow moving utility sector—and worse—sometimes things move in the wrong direction...


The Buzz

18 Jan 2018

The California grid operator plans to move into the western reliability coordination market. And, it plans to do so at a steep discount.

An independent group of scientists finds that gas storage fields are needed now, but might later be converted to store clean fuels or captured carbon dioxide.

Forthcoming federal standards aim to improve cybersecurity for the grid, but regulators say much more is needed...


Bill May Increase Diablo Closure Costs

17 Jan 2018

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) plans to introduce legislation to restore all or part of the $85 million in proposed mitigation funds for San Luis Obispo area communities that the California Public Utilities Commission excluded in its Jan. 11 closure decision for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Monning has not yet determined the amount or the source of the funds. He told Current he was looking at various sources, including Pacific Gas & Electric ratepayers and shareholders, the state’s general fund, and the Diablo decommissioning trust fund...


JUICE: Cazalet Pitches Plan to Grow Energy Storage

17 Jan 2018

Energy storage technologies are considered by lawmakers, regulators, and many others as a key way to balance the ebb and flow of higher levels of intermittent solar and wind power feeding California’s grid. However, the growth of various storage technologies, which can store excess renewable flows and release the juice at times of high demand, has sputtered in spite of state mandates and incentives...


The Buzz

11 Jan 2018

A controversial decision eliminating energy efficiency funding and slashing ratepayers’ tab in the Diablo nuclear plant closure plan is approved 5-0 by state energy regulators. The 2024/25 closure date may advance, however, because of the loss of PG&E customers and higher plant maintenance costs.

Also Jan.11, the California Public Utilities Commission authorizes the three electric utilities to spend $43 million on electric transportation...


CPUC Delays LA County Gas Hookup Moratorium

10 Jan 2018

Updated Jan. 11, 2018.

Strong opposition from local businesses and elected officials pushed the California Public Utilities Commission Jan. 10 to postpone enacting a gas hookup moratorium in Los Angeles County for new commercial and industrial buildings through the end of March.

Fearing gas shortages because of outages of three pipelines that supply the area, plus diminished storage capacity at the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility after a massive methane leak two years ago, the commission proposed the moratorium last month...


The Buzz

5 Jan 2018

A San Francisco lawmaker marks the legislative new year with a bill to put an end to gasoline-powered autos in California beginning in 2040.

Other state lawmakers at the start of 2018 seek to foreclose any possibility that electric utilities that spark wildfires could potentially recover associated costs from ratepayers. The state’s biggest utility says the bill could undermine the financial stability of the state’s power companies...


Juice: It’s a Happy New Year for Big Oil

2 Jan 2018

California environmental regulators are trumpeting their updated master plan for reducing greenhouse gases as “a template for other jurisdictions who are also committed to preventing the worst impacts of a warming planet.”

Yet, the California Air Resources Board’s latest “scoping plan” gives big oil a free pass. The rest—the electricity, natural gas, and other businesses sectors, as well as consumers—must pay the piper...


The Buzz

14 Dec 2017

Who will become the western grid operator: CAISO, Southwest Power Pool, or the new ISO elf?

State energy regulators tighten utility fire safety rules because of the “astounding” problem of wildfires, Mike Picker, CPUC president, says. During the same Dec. 14 meeting, the commission approves $100 million in annual subsidies to promote solar system installations on apartments.

Earlier in the last meeting of 2017, the commission postpones voting on the controversial decision cutting Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed funding for the closure of its Diablo Canyon nuke...


Opinionated: The Diablo Energy Efficiency Opportunity

12 Dec 2017

Editor's Note: The California Public Utilities Commission was set to vote Dec. 14 on the decision to reduce funding for Pacific Gas & Electric to close its Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant from $1.76 billion to $172 million. However,  the commission announced at the start of the Thursday business meeting that a vote on the proposed closure terms for the 2,240 MW plant will be held until Jan. 11.

By Mark Shahinian

“Doubling” energy efficiency in existing buildings as required by Senate Bill 350 means utilities, and the California Public Utilities Commission, must radically accelerate development of next-generation efficiency programs...


The Buzz

8 Dec 2017

Energy agency heads insist Los Angeles County should freeze natural gas hookups for new homes and businesses because of possible fuel shortages this winter. Builders vigorously object that it will worsen the area’s housing crimp. The CPUC president blasts the messenger.

Pacific Gas & Electric proposes replacing Dynegy’s 40-year old Oakland power plant with local alternative power supplies...


Proposed Gas Hookup Moratorium for LA Draws Opposition

7 Dec 2017

State energy agencies are pressing Los Angeles County to freeze gas hookups for newly constructed homes and businesses in the face of feared “gas service interruptions” this winter. Three natural gas pipelines are out of service and the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field’s has limited capacity to inject gas into the local pipeline system.

“Los Angeles County has made it clear that it does not support the continued operation of Aliso Canyon,” wrote the heads of the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Dec...


The Buzz

30 Nov 2017

State energy regulators are united in their opposition to saddling San Diego Gas & Electric ratepayers with nearly $400 million in costs incurred for three big fires in 2007 ignited by SDG&E lines. Two members of the California Public Utilities Commission, however, have reservations given multiple contributions to the big fires that led to deaths, huge amounts of scorched earth and destroyed homes...


Juice: Blowin in the Dry Wind

28 Nov 2017

Four years ago, San Diego Gas & Electric power lines sparked wildfires that burned some 200,000 acres in San Diego County. The fires, which began in the eastern area of the county, were quickly blown westward by severe Santa Ana winds. They wound up destroying 2,500 homes and structures as they burned through the dry chaparral landscape. By the time they were extinguished, seven people had died and almost a half million people had to be evacuated...


Negawatt Providers Seek a Mandate

21 Nov 2017

California regulators and policymakers say they want to see increases in demand response to reduce peak load and help balance out intermittent renewable resources. Despite the lip service, the amount of negawatt capacity reaped from the residential and commercial/industrial sectors has fallen since 2011, particularly from third-party aggregators working with the investor-owned utilities.

“There is a downward trajectory, except in the area of utility baseload interruptibles,” said Mona Tierney-Lloyd, EnerNoc’s senior director of western regulatory affairs...