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The Buzz

2 Mar 2017


The California Public Utilities Commission hears about a proposed decision to hike Pacific Gas & Electric’s rates after getting a tongue lashing from residents, consumer advocates, and a key lawmaker on bill increases under previous commission decisions.

Meanwhile, the commission spends an afternoon discussing the potential energy use of the emerging recreational cannabis industry about which little turns out to be known...

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JUICE: Dam Renewables

1 Mar 2017


California is following in Hawaii’s footsteps and pursuing a 100 percent renewable energy standard by 2045.

A lot can and will happen between the introduction and possible passage and implementation of Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León’s SB 584. It seeks to advance the state’s renewable energy standard of 50 percent from 2030 to 2025 and to then double that in 18 years.

A big question is how large hydropower in the evolving energy landscape would fit into California’s 100 percent alternative resource electricity mandate...

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Low Carbon Fuels May Halve Cap & Trade Allowance Costs

22 Feb 2017


Strengthening California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard can go a long way toward reducing the cost of complying with the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program, concludes a report by ICF released last week by an alternative fuel business group.

The February study by the consulting firm shows that doubling the low carbon fuel standard by 2030 would reduce the cost of emissions allowances under the cap-and-trade program by 50 percent...

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The Buzz

17 Feb 2017


With a carbon tax gaining favor among some Republicans at the national level and having a slim possibility in California, the Air Resources Board, which has been pushing its carbon cap-and-trade program, hit the pause button this week. It put off updating its roadmap for reaching a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 amid controversy over strategy.

The debacle at Oroville Dam not only released huge amounts of water to reduce flood threats to downstream towns...

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Undercurrents: San Diego Community Choice Prospects Dim

15 Feb 2017


San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors Feb. 15 balked at ordering a community choice aggregation feasibility study. They rejected a recommendation to spend $200,000 on the evaluation after hearing objections from Sempra Energy Services.

The lobbying arm of Sempra argued that subsidiary San Diego Gas & Electric can provide “a default utility portfolio at the same level” as any choice program while providing comparable “benefits...

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The Buzz

10 Feb 2017


To open or not to open the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field is the question before lawmakers.  Unknowns about the cause of the SoCal Gas well blow-out that spewed methane for months propelled a bill to halt well reinjections forward this week while state regulators take a deep dive into the massive leak’s root cause. Simultaneously, state energy regulators announced they have begun an assessment of whether Aliso Canyon is needed at all...

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Distributed PV Installations Fall in Era of Lower NEM Rates

7 Feb 2017


Two of the three investor-owned utilities, which offer less favorable net energy metering rates to customers with new solar rooftop systems, have seen installations drop by up to a third.

The revised rates paid to new distributed photovoltaic customers “changes the value proposition for solar,” said Daniel Sullivan, president of Sullivan Solar Power. “It’s the equivalent of boiling a frog, one degree at time...

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The Buzz

2 Feb 2017


State regulators were rattled and rolled Wednesday night by outraged residents of Porter Ranch and local and state politicians. At the start of a hearing to consider reopening the huge natural gas storage field at Aliso Canyon, the largely well-to-do white community refused to hear regulators defend its reopening after enduring illnesses and noxious smells from the massive four-month leak.

Supporting their cause is the huge battery storage project built in record time after the Aliso Canyon leak, as well as a quietly released Department of Energy report...

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JUICE: Efficiency Pays, Crime Doesn’t

1 Feb 2017


Daily Show host Trevor Noah knew from birth about the importance of conserving resources. He grew up in poverty in South Africa. His mother, for instance, had to stretch each gallon of gas pumped into their battered, used car to the max. She coasted down hills, turned off the engine in traffic jams, and had Trevor push their car short distances as traffic inched forward for several blocks because all that was left in the tank were fumes, according to his autobiography, Born a Crime...

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The Buzz

26 Jan 2017


While the Trump Administration is going hog wild reversing air pollution controls, including a likely move to roll back California’s auto emissions restrictions, the state's investor-owned utilities plan major expansions of electric charging stations for large and small vehicles.  The $1 billion strategy filed with California regulators will be good for the three utilities' bottom lines, but also the EV industry and air quality...

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Three Private Utilities Seek $1.1 B for EV Infrastructure

26 Jan 2017


California’s investor-owned utilities filed new plans with state energy regulators seeking a total $1.06 billion dollars in ratepayer recovery to expand electric charging infrastructure for cars, buses, trucks and off-road equipment in their territories.

Together, Southern California Edison’s and Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposals filed at the California Public Utilities Commission Jan...

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The Buzz

20 Jan 2017


Extending the carbon cap-and-trade program continues to be the talk of town.  New bills seek to reauthorize it beyond 2020 as its legal legitimacy is the focus of an appeals court argument. Meanwhile, legislative leaders say that trading or taxing is on the table.

The president of the California Public Utilities Commission during an hour-long talk announced that customers—both business and residential—may eventually be able to choose who they buy electricity from, just like in the good old deregulation era...

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CPUC Head Sees CA Joining Retail Choice Movement

19 Jan 2017


Allowing more businesses but also residential electric utility customers to choose their retail power provider may soon be an option in California, said California Public Utilities Commission President Mike Picker Jan. 19.

Speaking at the commission’s first meeting of 2017, Picker said that in the coming year the CPUC will launch an effort to carve out a new role for investor-owned power utilities in which they simply transmit, distribute, and bill customers for power, but no longer procure electricity on their behalf...

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The Buzz

13 Jan 2017


After years of fearing growing levels of renewable energy would destabilize the grid, requiring  lots of new gas-fired power plants to fill in power voids when the wind or sun drops, it was out with the old and in with the new for the grid operator. This week, the California Independent System Operator embraced studies saying that adding smarty pants inverters to renewables would help even out their ebb and flow...

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Navajo Coal Plant May Shutdown Soon

11 Jan 2017


The 2,250 MW coal-fired Navajo power station in Arizona is being hammered by low natural gas prices and possible loss of another partner, increasing the odds its could be shuttered by the time its lease expires on Dec. 23, 2019.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power discontinued its ownership interest in the polluting three-unit plant in 2015. Its 477 MW share was bought by Salt River Project...

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The Buzz

6 Jan 2017


There’s been a lot of noise of late over the San Onofre nuclear plant, particularly over reopening the questionable $4.4 billion closure settlement.  The nuke’s Southern California utility owners’ attempted to pull a fast one and delay and shorten the meet and confer schedule. A state regulatory judge heeded stakeholders’ cries and rejected Edison’s and SDG&E’s motions.

On the state renewables front in 2015, public and private utility portfolios were all over the map...

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San Onofre Closure Deal in Rough Waters

5 Jan 2017


The planned reopening of the controversial San Onofre Nuclear Station's $4.4 billion closure settlement was rocked by a regulatory filing seeking a postponement until a decision was made on Southern California Edison’s damage claim against the maker of the faulty steam generators.

Just before press time, the early January filing by Edison and minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric to put off scheduled resettlement meetings with stakeholders was rejected by a California Public Utilities Commission judge...

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The Buzz

16 Dec 2016


Editor’s Note: This is the final weekly issue for 2016.  The next issue of Current will be published Jan. 6, 2017. We wish you a happy and safe holiday season.

This week, California Public Utilities Commission members Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval bid adieu at the final CPUC meeting of the year. Before their departure, they voted along with their fellow regulators to approve PG&E’s $130 million electric vehicle charging station program, which is about a third the size of the its initial EV charging infrastructure pilot...

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CPUC Unanimously OKs Largest Private Utility EV Charging Program

15 Dec 2016


In their final meeting of the year and the last one for outgoing commissioners Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval, state energy regulators approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s hefty but scaled back pilot electric vehicle charging program.

At a cost to ratepayers of $130 million, it is the most expensive and largest of the three private utility programs, noted Commissioner Carla Peterman, who authored the decision adopted 5-0 on Dec...

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Regulators Tell Utilities to Buy Distributed Resources

15 Dec 2016


The California Public Utilities Commission began testing the resources waters,moving Dec. 15 to have distributed energy replace traditional centralized power plants and transmission lines.

Commissioner Mike Florio, the lead commissioner on the approved decision, called the action “the next big step forward” regarding distributed energy, though he admitted that it’s “not the end of the road...

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