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Large Battery Projects Soar in CA, Small Ones Struggle

15 Jun 2017

Someone’s loss is another’s gain extends to the emerging energy storage market in California.

The closure of the massive Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field caused the energy storage market in the state to take off.

Despite California’s mandate that private utilities procure a total of 1,325 MW of energy storage by 2020, the state’s market for large-scale storage projects, excluding pumped hydro, was “insignificant until six months ago,” Cody Hill, LS Power energy storage manager, told a Power Association of Northern California gathering on June 14...


The Buzz

9 Jun 2017

Legislation to expand the carbon cap-and-trade program was waylaid by an oil slick of campaign contributions to Assembly Democrats.  Thus, the life span of a key Senate cap-and-trade bill looks as promising as an oiled bird.

Also floundering in the current is Senate legislation that seeks to thwart refilling the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field until a study on the root cause of the massive months-long leak is concluded...


JUICE: The Carbon Goose-n-Gander

7 Jun 2017

Key bills expanding the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program failed to make it to the other side of the Legislature after last-minute vote changes on a controversial measure on the Assembly floor.

Considerable political capital has been expended on extending the scope of the California Air Resources Board’s greenhouse gas trading program beyond 2020—including campaign contributions, arm twisting and tears...


The Buzz

2 Jun 2017

During hours-long floor sessions, lawmakers advanced several energy bills, including ones setting a 100 percent renewables requirement, cutting in half the number of electric utility shutoffs due to non-payment of bills, and creating an energy storage equivalent of the California Solar Initiative.

Around the time Prez Trump dumped the Paris Climate deal, San Francisco Bay Area air regulators announced emission caps for oil refineries, which emit considerably more pollution than the region’s power plants...


SF Bay Area Refineries Face Hard Emissions Cap

1 Jun 2017

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District appears poised to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the region’s five oil refineries, the area’s largest stationary source of carbon gases. The caps on individual refinery carbon emissions are to be the first in the state and nation.

“Today’s action by the Air District Board demonstrates local leadership, ensuring that refinery greenhouse gas emissions do not increase, providing a model for California and beyond,” Jack Broadbent, Air District executive officer, announced May 31...


The Buzz

25 May 2017

Pacific Gas & Electric fails to garner an extra $1.5 billion for decommissioning its Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor, as the CPUC stands by an administrative law judge’s decision.

FERC moves a bit closer to a quorum as a Senate panel holds a hearing on President Trump’s nominees.

In a report that’s, well, quite predictable, CARB says low-income residents need more money to buy electric cars...


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

23 May 2017

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 Zichella, NRDC director of western transmission, said the proposed sell off of public transmission will be dead on arrival...


The Buzz

19 May 2017

The wide selection of brands of peanut butter and other consumer products up and down the state is not questioned. But electricity choice is, at least by state regulators. They question community choice’s impact on the traditional utility business model, and even the state’s climate protection efforts.

Elsewhere, community energy is assumed to be the path to lower carbon emissions and power bills...


SCE Labor Practices Impact Rates & Safety, Union Says

17 May 2017

Southern California Edison’s 2018-2020 rate case has become embroiled in a labor dispute in which a major union says it’s been locked out of contracting jobs with the utility, which are on the upswing as the company focuses on improving its aging distribution system.

Enhancing the safety of its distribution system, in which equipment failures frequently cause blackouts and electrical hazards, is the utility’s chief priority in seeking a $1...


The Buzz

12 May 2017

California utility regulators open a proceeding to examine rules for putting overhead power lines communities find objectionable underground. They also back an 11 percent rate hike for Pacific Gas & Electric in action on the utility’s general rate case.

A bill calling for 100 percent renewable power in the Golden State by 2045 glides through a Senate committee. Meanwhile, lawmakers appear to favor improving and continuing California’s carbon cap-and-trade program instead of effectively repealing and replacing it with another approach to cutting greenhouse gases...


Opinionated: The Energy Efficiency Conundrum

9 May 2017

By Todd Edmister

In its well-intentioned efforts to address climate change in SB 350, the California Legislature mandated that state investor-owned utilities “double” energy savings cost-effectively by 2030. The fly in the ointment here is that SB 350’s new “doubling” requirement rests atop long-established legislation already requiring private utilities to obtain “all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective ...


Guest Juice: DOE Grid “Study”: Politics Trump Facts

1 May 2017

By John Moore

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has directed his agency to conduct a hurried review of how environmental protection standards and clean energy incentives are apparently threatening to bring our power grid to its knees. That action shows either a lack of understanding as to how grid operators (including the one back in his home state of Texas) are successfully integrating abundant, reliable, and carbon-free wind and solar energy resources, or simply a desire to fulfill a Trump campaign promise to boost coal over clean energy...


The Buzz

28 Apr 2017

More batteries and other energy storage technologies are not at the top of the California Public Utilities Commission’s list.  In a ruling on CA’s energy storage mandate, initially set at 1,325 MW by 2020 and then boosted by another 500 MW last year, a CPUC decision focuses on reaching only the initial goal. The private utilities are more than 800 MW short of the 1,325 MW target. San Diego Gas & Electric is closest to its 2020 mandate while Pacific Gas & Electric is farthest away...


JUICE: Downsizing Gas Power

25 Apr 2017

The day of reckoning is nigh for gas-fired power in California.

A growing oversupply of power—created by California’s race to build renewable power plants— has depressed wholesale electricity prices to the point that operators often can’t bring in enough money to run gas plants day-to-day, much less cover the major maintenance work needed to keep them running. Never mind profit.

Power prices in the California Independent System Operator’s real time energy market fell from $55/MWh at the beginning of 2014 to about $35/MWh at the end of 2015...


JUICE: CA’s Stellar Energy

18 Apr 2017

California’s head energy regulator went to Washington, D.C., last month to encourage Federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy scientists to come work for the Golden State to advance clean energy.

His trip was in response to the Trump Administration’s move in the opposite direction. Part of Trump’s anti-clean energy plan includes slashing the budgets for EPA and DOE in the areas of climate protection, including money for the Energy Star program...


The Buzz

13 Apr 2017

Eggs gathered in Current’s Easter news basket include approval of two controversial and large natural gas project redos along the SoCal coast. The California Energy Commission unanimously approved the Huntington & Alamitos replacement projects, which are to be cooled with air, not seawater-cooled.

On the agenda at this week’s Energy Commission post business meeting closed door huddle was California’s legal action with nine other states over a delay in federal energy efficiency standards...


Edison Tells Investors EV Charging is Big Business

12 Apr 2017

One of California’s biggest electric utilities is banking on a growing number of electric vehicles on the state’s highways to provide  a business growth opportunity over the coming decade.

In an April 12 briefing for investment banks, Southern California Edison executives outlined a growing need for both grid modernization to meet electric vehicle charging demand and for more public charging stations as promising a healthy enhancement of the utility’s rate base through 2030...


JUICE: Trump & CA’s Clean Energy House

5 Apr 2017

President Donald Trump’s growling about climate-friendly federal laws, rules and programs could be worse than his greenhouse gas emissions bite to California’s climate protection efforts, at least in the short term.

But, threatened financial chomps are a concern with the possible slashing of federal funding for state renewable energy programs and low-income energy assistance. Sharp teeth also are being barred at energy savings in California with the possible elimination of the federal Energy Star program budget...


The Buzz

30 Mar 2017

California environmental regulators are creating a big profitable opportunity for electric utilities to get into the transportation fuel business by reaffirming the state’s auto fuel efficiency standards while Washington marches in the opposite direction.

State lawmakers advanced a handful of energy bills this week, from trying to encourage more renewable energy to serve peak load to ensuring that clean energy demonstration projects funded with research money benefit polluted, low-income communities...


Guest Juice: California Energy Efficiency Dreamin’

30 Mar 2017

By Cynthia Mitchell

In the 1990s, California led the nation in deregulating its electric utility industry. The result was a disaster. The subsequent energy crisis during 2000 and 2001 was characterized by extraordinarily high prices and blackouts.

Re-regulation included proclaiming energy efficiency as the state’s highest priority[i]  “first loading order resource”[ii] based upon three decades of perception that state energy efficiency had accomplished what no other state or jurisdiction had been able to do: significantly reduce per capita electricity consumption...