You are viewing our free articles. To view our subscriber-only content, please sign in or sign up for a free two-week trial!

The Buzz

30 Apr 2020


Lawmakers’ mission when back in Sacramento will be economic recovery. In the meantime, live energy bills are whittled down largely to ones that fund alternative power and transportation sectors and create jobs to help the damaged state economy. Also in the active legislation bucket is legislation to reduce the impacts of safety shutoffs.

A bill creating an unpleasant buzz would give an expensive, large pumped storage project near Joshua Tree a leg up...

[more...]

Juice: Beyond Diesel Backup Generation and Blackouts

28 Apr 2020


The use of clean-fueled microgrids to keep power flowing to vulnerable people and critical services—from safety to water supply—during upcoming fires and outages was the talk of the town. Unfortunately, the talk led to little action on installing these types of projects in high fire threat areas in California before wildfires start this year.

Pacific Gas & Electric has contracted for 300 MW of temporary diesel powered backup generation to ensure electricity powers critical resources, community resource centers and medically vulnerable customers during shutoffs...

[more...]

The Buzz

23 Apr 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission seeks ways to ease the suffering of ratepayers and alternative energy companies and their workers struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic.

After months of controversy, East Bay Community Energy votes 10-5 to reject taking nuclear power from PG&E. The nuclear power is a hot political potato for the East Bay but not the big hydropower PG&E is offering...

[more...]

The Buzz

17 Apr 2020


State energy regulators unanimously agree to minor reductions in the bills of the ratepayers of the state’s two largest utilities. The California Public Utilities Commission votes for this no cost step advancing the climate dividend to alleviate financial pressures caused by the fallout of COVID 19.

This dividend is often called a “climate credit.” While it lowers utility bills, it is much more like a refund or deposit of money ratepayers already paid to cover carbon control costs...

[more...]

California’s Climate “Credit” for Dummies

14 Apr 2020


Editor’s Note: This is the third of a new Current series explaining the fundamentals of energy terms. With it, we hope to pull back the curtain on terms of art used in California utility regulation.

Updated April 16

Residential ratepayers of California’s two largest utilities are set to receive roughly $36 of climate "credit" on their power bills early under action taken by utility regulators...

[more...]

The Buzz

9 Apr 2020


The Energy Commission approves city ordinances that beat state building efficiency rules. It applauds California cities working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

The Commission also continues to dole out millions of dollars in grants at its first remote business meeting to promote cleaner food and beer production, offshore wind, renewable gas and safer natural gas infrastructure...

[more...]

The Behind-The-Meter Frontier

9 Apr 2020


Your home could also be your power plant, according to an April 7 article in Wired Magazine. It highlights a community housing project in Colorado that’s experimenting with advanced software that tracks the units’ solar power and directs it to where it’s needed—relaying it from those with surplus PV output to those that need more power. A new book delves into the nitty gritty of similar and more broad-based production, use, storage and trading of behind-the-meter alternative energy technologies...

[more...]

The Buzz

2 Apr 2020


The surge in residential energy use from millions of people ordered to stay home motivates energy regulators to lighten the financial burden of higher utility bills. They plan to advance the climate credit so they aren’t quite so high.

The same day, California’s head energy regulator insists on resolving PG&E's bankruptcy by the end of June. It appears that also includes the unrelated issue of interim rate recovery of almost $1 billion in 2019 wildfire costs starting in August...

[more...]

The Buzz

26 Mar 2020


Incessant telephonic disruptions don't stop state regulators from approving 25,000 MW of new clean energy projects to cut the sector’s emission to 46 megatons of carbon emissions by 2030. 

Also during their challenging public telephone business meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously okays $200 million in building decarbonization pilots.

It also extends a multi-million dollar contract for outreach to diverse communities to inform them of  upcoming time-of-use residential rates...

[more...]

The Energy Industry in the Time of COVID-19

24 Mar 2020


The energy industry has instituted operational changes to slow the spread of the new coronavirus while staying focused on continuing “essential” services.

In addition, energy agencies are pulling back on enforcement in response to the Covid-19 contagion. Onsite agency investigations and audits have come to a stop. State and federal energy agencies also are granting filing and compliance extensions and waiving certain requirements...

[more...]

The Buzz

19 Mar 2020


The pandemic has slowed down solar projects but there is an unprecedented increase in new installed capacity in 2019. This year and future ones may be a different story but solar proponents expect solar capacity to keep rising in and outside California over the long haul.

Large intermittent renewable generation paired with storage provides more bang for the buck. A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report also notes that in California the total value of hybrid projects is roughly double that of stand-alone solar or battery facilities...

[more...]

OPINIONATED: Setting the Record Straight on SMUD’s Community Solar

17 Mar 2020


Editor's Note: SMUD responds to criticism of its Solar Shares program raised in a March 2 editorial by local solar advocate Dave Rosenfeld. SMUD’s community solar program was approved by the California Energy Commission last month. 

California’s 2019 Building Standards took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and included a requirement for the use of solar on all new home construction in the form of either rooftop solar or community solar...

[more...]

State and Federal Meeting Updates during Covid-19 Pandemic

16 Mar 2020


Updated Friday. Changes in italics.

The following are the latest changes to previously scheduled meetings, in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order limiting the number of people at gatherings, and local agency dictates.

The California Public Utilities Commission cancelled all its public hearings on increasing electric rates pursuant to Phase One of Southern California Edison's General Rate Case scheduled for March 17 through April 22...

[more...]

The Buzz

12 Mar 2020


The rising threat of the new coronavirus gets state and federal agencies in gear. 

A few days earlier, regulators and other energy entities don’t agree on how to respond. The state grid operator is the first to take major precautions, discontinuing its in-person meetings to thwart the possible spread of COVID-19 pathogens.

With no fanfare, the California Public Utilities Commission reaffirms its say over Pacific Gas & Electric's pricey Diablo Canyon tab...

[more...]

Opinionated: Boom in Electric Transportation Means SoCal Jobs

9 Mar 2020


In the 1990s, Southern California was lamenting the demise of its once thriving auto industry. But the rise of electric transportation in recent years has created a new boom, according to a report  recently issued by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.. And with that boom comes jobs, according to the report, titled “Economic and Workforce Impact Analysis of the Electric Mobility Revolution in Southern California,” formally released last week at Veloz, an electric vehicle forum in Sacramento...

[more...]

The Buzz

6 Mar 2020


State lawmakers ask the private utilities hard questions about the new wildfire mitigation plans' impacts on ratepayer pocketbooks and safety.

Legislators also introduce new bills to keep PG&E et al from writing off penalties for safety violations. Other measures seek to increase the flow of renewable resources into utility grids and vehicles.

To help close the gap between carbon emissions and the state's reduction goals, the California Energy Commission proposes spending nearly $400 million over three years, largely on clean cars and medium- and heavy-duty trucks...

[more...]

Opinionated: What Happened to SMUD?

2 Mar 2020


Editor's note: The California Energy Commission agreed to allow the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to use a controversial alternative method for complying with the

2019 building energy efficiency codes. The CEC standards require all new single homes to have solar rooftops. SMUD got permission to allow builders to invest in community solar in place of building homes with solar rooftops.

by Dave Rosenfeld

The California Energy Commission approved SMUD’s SolarShares proposal on Feb...

[more...]

The Buzz

28 Feb 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric is hit with a historic fine of $2.14 billion for igniting deadly wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018. It comes a few days after PG&E reports significant losses in its 2019 earnings report.

The private utilities in the southern half of the state fare far better. Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and SoCalGas all report healthy earnings for last year...

[more...]

The Buzz

20 Feb 2020


The West Coast’s first LNG export project looks like its headed for federal approval. This week, however, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission votes 2-1 to tentatively disapprove the Coos Bay project because of Oregon’s recent permit rejection. A majority of the federal energy regulators also reject the New York grid operator’s capacity market revisions,

undermining energy storage, renewables and demand response...

[more...]

The Buzz

14 Feb 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric offers its nuclear energy to community choice. But it is a hot potato, particularly for East Bay Clean Energy. Local green energy advocates give it a lot of heat for considering the matter.

Bets are that extracting lithium from the steamy brine of geothermal plants in the mineral-rich Salton Sea will become a viable industry. But, getting the needed quantity and quality of lithium for the growing battery market from this area faces hurdles, according to an Energy Commission meeting...

[more...]