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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...


Utility Financial Stability Concerns Come to Fore

8 Feb 2018

In an unusual move, four members of the California Public Utilities Commission Feb. 8 answered written questions submitted by the so called "public” concerning the financial stability of the state’s investor-owned utilities in the face of regulatory policy and the growing impacts of climate change, particularly wildfires.

The one-hour webinar—called an experiment in communications by commissioners—came after what they called an increase in requests over the past several months to meet with financial and credit rating firms...


The Buzz

2 Feb 2018

California energy regulators and fire safety agencies are working together to try and curb the dangers of the growing numbers of intense wildfires, with a worrisome number sparked by power lines. The California Public Utilities Commission president and other officials lament the inadequacy of resources, policies and preparation during an all day meeting.

Fire safety scientists also warn that California faces mounting fire danger because of climate change impacts...


Regulators Grapple with Growing Fire Dangers

1 Feb 2018

How to reduce the risk of more frequent and intense wildfires in the state, with a worrisome number sparked by utility equipment, was the subject of a Jan. 31 California Public Utilities Commission meeting attended by all five commissioners.

“The ferocity of events we face outstrips our resources, policies and preparation,” warned Mike Picker, CPUC president, during the all day en banc hearing...


The Buzz

26 Jan 2018

Front and center stage in Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State is his climate protection work   While he provided few specifics on how forthcoming carbon cap-and-trade auction funds would be divvied up, he insists that we can’t fight nature.

Over at the California Energy Commission, projects to reduce home natural gas use and utility bills appear to have accomplished just that.

The State Attorney General seeks to further California’s clean energy laws and practices by challenging the Trump Administration...


OPINIONATED: The Sorry State Of Demand Response, Smart Meters/Dumb Tariffs

22 Jan 2018

 By Fereidoon Sioshansi

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct an annual survey of demand response and advanced metering in the U.S. The 12th edition of the report was released in Dec. 2017 and anyone looking for major revelations is likely to be disappointed.

Not much happens from year to year in the slow moving utility sector—and worse—sometimes things move in the wrong direction...


The Buzz

18 Jan 2018

The California grid operator plans to move into the western reliability coordination market. And, it plans to do so at a steep discount.

An independent group of scientists finds that gas storage fields are needed now, but might later be converted to store clean fuels or captured carbon dioxide.

Forthcoming federal standards aim to improve cybersecurity for the grid, but regulators say much more is needed...


Bill May Increase Diablo Closure Costs

17 Jan 2018

Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) plans to introduce legislation to restore all or part of the $85 million in proposed mitigation funds for San Luis Obispo area communities that the California Public Utilities Commission excluded in its Jan. 11 closure decision for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

Monning has not yet determined the amount or the source of the funds. He told Current he was looking at various sources, including Pacific Gas & Electric ratepayers and shareholders, the state’s general fund, and the Diablo decommissioning trust fund...


JUICE: Cazalet Pitches Plan to Grow Energy Storage

17 Jan 2018

Energy storage technologies are considered by lawmakers, regulators, and many others as a key way to balance the ebb and flow of higher levels of intermittent solar and wind power feeding California’s grid. However, the growth of various storage technologies, which can store excess renewable flows and release the juice at times of high demand, has sputtered in spite of state mandates and incentives...