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Utility Wildfire Cost Recovery Bill Blasted for Overreach

18 Apr 2018

Private utility wildfire liability is a huge concern at the state capitol.

During an April 17 hearing, legislators grappled with how to protect utilities from overwhelming liability in the face of impacts to ratepayers, third-party distributed energy and the growing number of people living near the risky wildland-urban interface.

“We here in the Senate know there are some complex issues” with liability insurance and impacts on ratepayers and affected communities, said Sen...


The Buzz

13 Apr 2018

Consideration of a ballot measure to mandate that San Diego Gas & Electric serve only green energy to the City of San Diego if it wants a renewed franchise agreement was sent back to go.

Leading gubernatorial Republican candidates challenge the recently enacted gas tax hike and the bullet train. Democratic governor hopefuls want to further green Gov. Jerry Brown’s work.

The California Energy Commission gives the green light to “drought-proofing” a desert power plant and tightening efficiency regulations for portable electric spas and battery chargers...


Clean Tech: My Dream All-Electric Granny Flat

9 Apr 2018

I am exploring how to make a granny flat my wife and I plan to build all-electric. We want to eliminate emissions from burning natural gas and take advantage of our solar rooftop.

Part of the plan may include upsizing our solar system to cover the additional square footage we’ll add.

So with a few home appliance upgrades and all electric addition, we may have a zero net energy home, or at close to it...


The Buzz

5 Apr 2018

Clashing recipes to determine how much community choice organizations must pay the private utilities for their stranded power purchase contracts land in the California Public Utilities Commission’s kitchen.

The launch of California’s expected biggest community choice program is not fully baked. The Clean Power Alliance of Southern California's June debut is limited to two cities and the unincorporated areas of one county...


Climate Roundup: Enviro Justice Groups Seek to Protect Low Income Weatherization

3 Apr 2018

Updated April 5

The governor’s spending proposal to eliminate the Low Income Weatherization Program's budget is opposed by a coalition of environmental justice advocates.

The program, administered by the Department of Community Services & Development, has provided energy efficiency and solar installations, and utility bill savings in struggling communities.

It is funded by the California Air Resources Board’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund...


The Buzz

29 Mar 2018

Facing massive liability lawsuits for its potential role in igniting wildfires that scorched Santa Rosa and other Wine Country communities last fall, Pacific Gas & Electric argues it’s not subject to claims based on the legal doctrine of inverse condemnation.

With hot weather just around the corner, state regulators order SoCal Gas to quickly fill up its depleted natural gas storage fields to make sure there’s enough fuel for power plants this summer...


SoCal Gas Ordered to Fill Gas Storage Fields

28 Mar 2018

SoCal Gas is under a state regulatory order to accelerate the storage of natural gas to prepare for summer demand because company pipelines remain out of service. The closed pipelines, which have been offline for months, hamper import capacity into the Los Angeles metro area.

California Public Utilities Commission Executive Director Alice Stebbins called the need to fill natural gas storage facilities in Southern California “urgent...


Opinionated: The Long & Winding Road to End Nuclear Power in California

19 Mar 2018

By The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

The end of commercial nuclear power in California approaches, a little more than half a century after it began.

Of all the promises and boasts made by the early proponents of nuclear energy, their claim of “too cheap to meter” would eventually prove to be its undoing—at least here in California. The journey towards that conclusion stretched over a decade, and was the work of dozens of organizations and countless individuals...


The Buzz

16 Mar 2018

Trump's federal regulators may make western grid regionalization a rough ride for California while it continues working to cut its greenhouse gases, legislators are warned. The next day, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signals just that. A FERC majority largely ignores the Obama-era's incorporation of  the social cost of carbon, saying it’s not a useful analytical tool when considering whether or not to build pipelines...


Major Power Plant Retirements in So Cal

14 Mar 2018

Merchant generators struggling in California are closing and selling off gas-fired generating facilities to stem the flow of red ink.

After contracts for the output of three aging natural gas power plants in Southern California owned by NRG subsidiary, GenOn, were not renewed, the company threw in the towel.

Slated for retirement over six months are the 640 MW Etiwanda Plant in Rancho Cucamonga, the 1,516 MW Ormond Beach plant in Oxnard, and its 54 MW Ellwood plant in Goleta...


LADWP’s Costs for Power & Fire Insurance Rise

13 Mar 2018

In response to higher costs for purchasing electricity and wildfire insurance, the nation’s largest municipal electric utility is increasing customer rates.

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s board voted March 13, without discussion, to boost customer charges for energy by 4 percent. That will result in an average monthly bill increase of about 1.6 percent. The costs of transmitting and distributing power are to remain level for now...


The Buzz

9 Mar 2018

A sizable midweek natural gas leak in San Diego shuts down a freeway, a huge mall and requires evacuations. As bad is the accompanying lack of a quick and easy shut off.

Hours before, information leaked out that natural gas withdrawals from Aliso Canyon by SoCal Gas were quietly okayed over the weekend, riling a Southern California lawmaker. During a hearing by the Senate Energy Committee, Sen. Henry Stern faces off with the California Public Utilities president over whether a non public decision to allow withdrawals of natural gas from Aliso Canyon did more to fan the flames of distrust or heat homes...


JUICE: The Scales of Politics

7 Mar 2018

Last week, numerous cities and regions with formed and forming community energy programs protested the investor-owned utilities’ plea to the California Public Utilities Commission to let them use ratepayer funds to lobby against public power supply organizations.

The Feb. 1 petition by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric seeks to modify the California Public Utilities Commission’s six-year old utility Code of Conduct related to community choice program formation...


The Buzz

2 Mar 2018

Tin ears are prevalent this week.

During the U.S. EPA’s public “listening session” in San Francisco mid-week on the agency’s plan to revoke the Clean Power Plan, Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board head, questions agency officials’ hearing ability. The decibels in the room increase with the long line of speakers blasting the proposed repeal for harming the planet and human health...


OPINIONATED: Where Have Utility Jobs Gone?

27 Feb 2018

by Fereidoon Sioshansi

It is broadly accepted that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will make many of today’s jobs redundant – think of automated bank machines, driverless cars, cashier-less supermarkets and drones dropping packages at your doorstep. Travel agents and hordes of other professions have been virtually wiped out of market while robots now assist investors pick the best investment opportunities at a fraction of the cost of human brokers – and are available 24/7...


The Buzz

22 Feb 2018

The California Public Utilities Commission unveils a plan to establish a multi-year procurement framework for resource adequacy, but leaves it open as to who will be responsible for actually entering power generating capacity contracts.

As planners gather to discuss western transmission projects, Phil Anschutz’s TranWest Express line is about ready to break ground to bring some 1,500 MW of Wyoming wind energy to California...


OPINIONATED: A New CPUC Tool to Reduce Ex Parte Exchanges

20 Feb 2018

By Todd Edmister

A recent CA Current article described a Feb.7, 2017, CPUC Commissioner informational webinar on “Impacts of Climate Change and Resulting Resiliency Challenges.” Though noticed as addressing “select questions submitted by the public,” the purpose of the meeting was limited to addressing questions from “investor groups,” as Commissioners Picker and Peterman stated in the opening minutes of the webinar...


The Buzz

15 Feb 2018

Community choice aggregators see mostly smooth sailing ahead in forming new programs and expanding existing ones after significant changes were made in a California Public Utilities Commission policy adopted last week that as originally proposed was seen as draconian.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County’s community choice energy program is now operational, with two rounds of expansion scheduled later this year...


JUICE: MetroWatt

13 Feb 2018

I’m in the enviable position of driving below 4,000 miles a year. My weekday commute is a staircase. My car use is further limited because of my transportation options, including bike, BART and Capitol Corridor train service.

The hike in my recent auto insurance bill motivated me to switch to insurance with comparable coverage with the cost based largely on vehicle miles traveled.

I’m guardedly optimistic that my annual insurance cost will be at least a third less than that of my previous policy...


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...