JUICE: 2005 Snarks and Sparks It was quite the office party! Dr. Snarky Sparks, dressed to kill in a cheery red suit and sequined green sneakers, had tee many martoonis to wash down the wontons. She danced till the wee hours with whoever was left standing. Post-party, though, and feeling more green than red, she will dispense her annual Snarks & Sparks awards, hoping her holiday cheer returns when the Tylenol kicks in. SPARKS The California Energy Commission's sunlight on secret policy info. The Energy Commission continues to expose its sister commission to the West's restrictions on freedom of information involving important energy policy and decisions - from forecasts to utility procurement deals. The doctor hopes that Sister Agency East's rainbow leads to a pot of information that is transparently golden for public policy. Slowing the polar ice cap melt at Santa's factory is a grand idea. The CPUC, the California Energy Commission, and the Climate Action Team have worked to advance the 20 percent renewables mandate to 2010 and to reach 33 percent in 2020, while weaning the state from imported coal power. The Climate Action Team's draft report wins a clean bill of health for its calls for mandatory CO2 reporting to make way for a cap-and-trade program. Energy efficiency danced with the lampshade on its head. After staggering past the dancers and the slightly askew fluorescent lightbulbs, EE fell into its hybrid limo packed with $2 billion in utility energy-efficiency investments, $2.8 billion in solar subsidies, and the CPUC's $300 million infusion into the self-generation solar rebate program. Flushed, EE headed to the Legislature's holiday bash to sweet-talk it into doing its part and increasing the net-metering cap in utility territory to make it a financially sound program. The Office of Ratepayer Advocates strung festive LED holiday lights this year. New leadership and some budget independence have revived the malnourished, demoralized office with hope, energy, and prospects for a bright new year. Applying the Visine to settlement litigation. Down the hall in Dr. Optimistic's office, before the fun began, Dr. Snarky donned her reading glasses to read the small print at the bottom of the eye chart that appears to spell E-N-D. Hopefully, no magnification will be needed to read "the end" of the energy-crisis litigation next year. San Diego Gas & Electric's refusal to invest in the San Onofre nuke's trip to the fountain of youth. Until recently, SDG&E didn't question the expense and the gamble it made with Edison, but now its sister utility is facing the trek into the wilderness alone - and without the hoped-for stocking stuffer: the newfangled Magellan Roadmap 300. All things merry and bright. Edison and SDG&E signed initial contracts for solar thermal electric facilities with Stirling Solar. Dr. Snarky doesn't want to get her hopes up because of the many obstacles involved. But it could lead to new clean, relatively local power in the desert to air condition all those Inland Empire subdivisions. Save the last dance for this odd couple. Despite the near fisticuffs over Prop. 80, The Utility Reform Network and the generator community linked arms last week to object to using ratepayer funds to extend the life of the infirm nuclear power. LADWP didn't have to wait until after the party to dig out from under the scandals. The new muni board, headed by Mary Nichols, is trying to make the board's decision-making more public and its power more green, while burying past disgrace. SNARKS No 10-year contracts wrapped up under the tree. With rising gas fuel prices squeezing their margins and no long-term deal with utilities on the horizon, supposed efficient competition with utilities' power plants continues to fade. While Dr. Snarky was appalled by the generators' Game Boy gifts to themselves a few years back, she hopes they survive to give the utilities a run for ratepayer money - and keep power both efficient and clean. Terry Tamminen's holiday hangover. The ascension of former California Public Utilities Commission member Susan Kennedy to the governor's chief of staff angered the state's Republican conservatives and apparently caused Tamminen's ousting as Schwarzenegger's cabinet secretary. The governor named Terry T., a progressive on energy policy, as special assistant for energy and environmental technologies. When he was visiting Dr. Shrinky's couch a couple of weeks ago - before the demotion - he was quick to defend the governor's choice of Kennedy. Dr. Shrinky's truth serum, however, hadn't kicked in before he had to leave the office, but surely the aftereffects of the martoonis have. It's not "A Wonderful Life." The persistent moves to hide public information under black Magic Markers could use a lot of Frank Capra's optimism. One of Dr. Snarky's cases, the CPUC's procurement review group - an appointed body that looks at information about utility affiliate power plants - continues to meet in secret. The groups should end with 2005, and that big pen that blacks out loads of important text should be taken away from both the CPUC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. California's big brother is the skunk at the party. Although FERC seems to have loosened up since Joe Kelliher became chair, the doctor's officemate, Dr. Shrinky, gets the feeling that the feds are control freaks, and not welcome at the shindig. California should have the independence to decide whether to allow liquefied natural gas terminals in its front yard. Million Solar Roofs bill demise from naughty bipartisan feuding. When it comes right down to it, the Republicans' reason for stalling the bill was about as easy to grasp as melting margaritas. Paying prevailing wages was already part of solar installations. Politicians knew better than to use the union argument as bitter bait to ditch the bill. And the Democrat lawmakers should have pressured the unions to back off on a blanket requirement. Pass the smelling salts. When the state embraced a renewables portfolio standard, who woulda thought the directions would be written in technical medical-speak? Far too much time, resources, and money have been spent developing rules to get new renewables projects on line. The same goes with a capacity market and the California Independent System Operator market redesign. Apparently, it takes hundreds of lawyers to screw in the RPS, grid operator redesign, and capacity-market Xmas lights. Missing price tag. The doctor hires an accountant to make sure that her ledgers are correct. Perhaps Mr. CPA should take a look at the CPUC's strange accounting. CPUC number crunchers say it's okay to weight one side of the nuclear "economic" equation using the replacement cost of natural gas-fired plants. But oops, even though the price of fueling nukes with uranium has also doubled, that number is missing from the books.