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JUICE: Voluntary 100% Renewable Programs Lack Traction

30 Aug 2017

Community choice and utility programs offering customers all solar energy or 100 percent mixed renewable power are about as popular as wall flowers.

The uptake rate of consumers voluntarily paying community aggregators and private utilities for all solar or a mix of clean power is in the low single digits. It is as low as a fraction of 1 percent of customers to up to 3.7 percent.

The state’s first community energy aggregator, Marin Clean Energy, offers its customers 100 percent local solar energy for a 30 percent premium above its 100 percent renewable program...


The Buzz

25 Aug 2017

State utility regulators okayed a shift in the peak pricing period to later in the day for San Diego Gas & Electric customers. Industry advocates warn it erodes the economic advantages of rooftop solar.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gets an education about how the grid operates. A Department of Energy staff report he requested out of concern that renewable energy could create blackouts by forcing closure of traditional baseload power plants finds his fear is unfounded...


CPUC Okays New SDG&E Peak Period

24 Aug 2017

State energy regulators unanimously approved the second phase of San Diego Gas & Electric’s 2016-19 general rate case, which includes a shift in the time-of-use peak period and off peak rates. The redesign is part of SDG&E's allocation of its approved triennial revenue requirement.

“Time-of-use rates acknowledge we have an eclipse every day,” Mike Picker, California Public Utilities Commission president, said Aug...


The Buzz

4 Aug 2017

How big a role electric vehicles and distributed solar roofs play in California will shape future energy demand. The California Energy Commission found that getting 1.7 million EVs on the road in a decade could drive up demand, but be offset by more solar rooftops and storage.

Bolstering that forecast are big bucks now flowing into the Golden State to support a growing EV market.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finally has a quorum...


The Buzz

28 Jul 2017

The California Independent System Operator seeks to widen the route to the state’s wholesale electricity market for demand response.

Microgrids promise benefits, but first the California Energy Commission says numerous speed bumps must be removed to make them more commonplace.

The grid operator seeks to head off the potential for sudden loss of large amounts of solar power on the grid due to the way solar plant inverters react to transient variations in frequency on high voltage transmission lines...


The Buzz

21 Jul 2017

The more things change, the more they don’t stay the same, Mike Picker, California’s head utility energy regulator tells a legislative panel. That includes the greening of the state’s energy supplies causing a flux in the grid, but with less impact than expected.

In greater flux is the fate of the proposed Puente power plant slated for Oxnard.  Support for alternative resources rises along with opposition to licensing the gas-fired project pending before the Energy Commission...


The Buzz

14 Jul 2017

The governor’s carbon cap-and-trade renewable legislation passes through a Senate panel after a six-hour hearing in which environmental justice activists and local and regional air districts denounced the measure. The oil company-friendly bill package was introduced Monday.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade deal appears to be more about cementing his legacy than it is about improving the atmosphere, concludes this week’s Juice column...


Opinionated: NREL at 40-It Started With a Desire to Harness the Sun

11 Jul 2017

By Wayne Hicks and Don Gwinner

May 3, 1978, fell on a Wednesday, but it was Sun Day as well. President Jimmy Carter, who had designated the date to highlight the potential of solar energy, spent part of the afternoon visiting an office park in Golden, Colorado. It was there, 10 months earlier that the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI) opened.

The oil embargo of 1973 was one impetus for the United States to consider establishing a laboratory to explore non-petroleum energy options...


The Buzz

7 Jul 2017

Taking the “dis” out of disadvantaged communities was center stage for lawmakers and regulators this week.  Reversing the trend of rising climate emissions and co-pollutants in poor local neighborhoods was the focus of a joint legislative Climate Change Policy panel.  Meanwhile, the CPUC zeroed in on making environmental justice  energy programs just.

The Utilities & Energy Committee passed bills to give customers more data access and green the peak load...


JUICE: China & CA Build the World We Want

3 Jul 2017

Early in this decade, China was busy pursuing a plan to maximize its coal resources by building giant “coal bases” in its inland areas where the mineral is mined. I detailed the plan in a series of articles for Inside Climate News in 2014.

China aimed to use its vast coal deposits, widely viewed as “money in the ground,” to produce electricity, gasoline, and synthetic natural gas far from the nation’s major population centers along its eastern coastal plain...


The Buzz

30 Jun 2017

Fireworks will have to wait until next week’s holiday as there were barely sparklers at the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

Regulators okayed moving to revise or redo the unpopular charge on community choice aggregators said to spread out the cost of utility ratepayer departures. Some sparks were generated by the CPUC’s approval of a higher state supply cushion and increased local capacity needs for 2018...


JUICE: The Art of Emissions Warfare

28 Jun 2017

Bay Area air regulators last week backed away from fighting the oil lobby head on. They did not vote to cap regional oil refineries’ greenhouse gas emissions as promised.

The move surely was in response to pressure from the governor who doesn’t want a direct confrontation with the powerful oil industry while pushing legislation to extend California’s carbon cap-and trade program.

Gov. Jerry Brown needs a two-thirds vote to extend until 2030 the state’s carbon trading program, which covers the combative petroleum industry...


The Buzz

22 Jun 2017

Cap-less in San Francisco is this week’s key feature. Bay Area air regulators rejected approving a first-in-the-nation ceiling on regional oil refineries’ greenhouse gas emissions because it would allow a big increase in climate change pollution.  The proposed cap before the board was significantly revised the day before the June 21 meeting, resulting in a vote to put off deciding how and whether to limit the largest source of stationary carbon emissions in the region...


Opinionated: Transformation at The Grid’s Edge

19 Jun 2017

By Fereidoon Sioshansi

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Defense Secretary, referring to developments following the Iraq invasion famously said, in war, “Stuff happens,” suggesting that much of what happens is unpredictable and not necessarily pleasant. Similarly, in the electric power sector these days, stuff is happening – generally characterized by buzzwords including industry transformation, grid modernization and developments at the grid’s edge – broadly referring to the interface between the distribution network and customers’ premises, appliances, devices, distributed generation, storage, sophisticated energy management systems, electric vehicles, etc...


The Buzz

16 Jun 2017

The California Public Utilities Commission adopted this week requirements for gas utilities to reduce methane leaks and improve worker training. The approval of “best practices” to control methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that’s also explosive, counters a recent move by the federal government to reverse similar requirements set by the Obama Administration.

In the state capitol, lawmakers are digging in on a course toward a low-carbon economy in California...


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...