Topping this year\u2019s Naughty and Nice list is outgoing California Public Utilities Commission president Mike Peevey. After 12 years, his final commission meeting was Dec. 18. \u201cMy goal was always to reduce our carbon footprint and for our regulated industries to reflect the diversity of California,\u201d said Peevey in farewell comments at the meeting. He said that under his leadership the commission accomplished much, but admitted it was \u201cnot always in the kindest and gentlest way.\u201d Going forward, Peevey said the biggest question for the commission is how to remain \u201cpolicy relevant.\u201d On the Nice side, he was committed to climate protection, advancing renewable energy and innovative technologies, and opening the door to women, minorities, and disabled veterans in utility suites and contract awards. He also defended numerous intervenor compensation claims from public interest groups, keeping the bills submitted for their contribution to energy cases from being slashed. In twelve years of service at the commission, almost all of it as president, he seldom minced words, making it clear where he stood on the major issues that came before the agency. His Naughty actions included sometimes running roughshod over commission procedures. That includes indicating that Pacific Gas & Electric\u2019s chances of reaping hoped for energy efficiency awards would increase if the utility directed funds to protect California\u2019s climate protection law and to the commission\u2019s 100th Anniversary party. The efficiency bonuses were approved on a 3-2 vote, with Peevey casting a yes vote. Calling the risk reward proceeding that involved all the private utilities \u201ctainted,\u201d the Office of Ratepayer Advocates seeks to return to ratepayers $29.1 million awarded to PG&E, $24.1 million awarded to Southern California Edison, $5.1 million given to San Diego Gas & Electric and $9.9 million that went to SoCal Gas. Peevey, who clashed with consumer advocates and smart meter protestors, ended his farewell, saying with a laugh, \u201cI surrender, don\u2019t shoot.\u201d His departure is not the only major shift at the commission for better or worse. The slow moving agency has to adjust to fast-moving technology that\u2019s changing the industry by giving customers control over their energy use. Another key item before the commissioners is rate redesign. Included in that is consumer time-of-use rates that are supposed to reflect the true cost of energy. Find out next year at this time whether those outcomes are naughty or not. NICE: The new head of the California Senate has a bill in the works aiming to push the state\u2019s huge public employee and teacher retirement funds to divest their coal power portfolios. Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) announced Dec. 15 he wants California to continue to lead on climate cleanup actions, including ensuring state investments are coal free. The California Public Employees Retirement system \u201cmakes up the largest public pension fund in the country and this move will provide another example of how California leads and defines the future economy,\u201d de Leon said at a climate leadership conference. California is near its goal of reaching mega solar rooftops. In 2013, there was 620 MW of new photovoltaic systems, with the state reaching nearly 1,670 MW of photovoltaic power capacity earlier this year. That is close to the California Public Utilities Commission\u2019s goal of 1,750 MW for 2016, the CPUC reported. In 2007, California decided to allocate $3.3 billion of ratepayer money for incentives to install 3,000 MW of new solar by the end of 2016. The commission\u2019s portion of what was known as the Million Solar Roofs initiative had a $2.2 billion budget. The grid operator\u2019s new Energy Imbalance Market to fill in short-term power gaps with PacifiCorp holds the promise of reducing costs, including those associated with adding and taking away power to accommodate fluctuating levels of solar and wind power. The wider regional market allows for tapping into intermittent power in regions with different weather driven peaks. Although software glitches are being worked out since its November launch, if this new, expanded 15-minute market works as advertised and grows to include others, including NV Energy and Bonneville Power, it could be very nice for the grid, environment and pocketbooks. Having a two-way power flow between electric cars and the grid is looking muy bien. The Los Angeles Air Force Base unveiled a vehicle-to-grid project Nov. 14 that included 42 electric vehicles that direct power to and from the electrical grid when they\u2019re not being driven. This $3 million project is expected to store and feed more than 700 kW to the grid. Expansion plans are in the works. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power got back to collecting payments due from ratepayers after a new billing system rolled out in 2013 melted down, forcing it to place a hiatus on normal billing procedures. The new software grossly overestimated many customer bills late in 2013 and the muni did not have a sufficient number of meter readers and customer service representatives to rectify the erroneous bills. However, after staffing up and straightening out the software, the department this year resolved most of its billing problems so it could begin to recover back amounts due. NAUGHTY: Utility energy efficiency programs may be close to hitting the wall as evidenced by the inability of utilities to find takers for all the incentive money the California Public Utilities Commission has made available for efficiency. In a lone dissent from a decision this fall authorizing yet more money for the programs in 2015, commissioner Mike Picker noted that \u201cwe\u2019re now spending a billion dollars a year and we\u2019re getting diminishing returns for each dollar expended.\u201d The other four commissioners in October, however, went ahead and voted to give another billion dollars to utility efficiency programs even though they were sitting on at least $306 million of incentive funding. While carbon dioxide reductions continue to be in the spotlight, more focus on slashing methane leaks is needed. It is a far more potent greenhouse gas, although shorter lived. Unknown amounts of methane are escaping in and outside of California from natural gas pipes, storage facilities, and other infrastructure in the distribution system. Both the California Air Resources Board and federal agencies are working on a fix. Pacific Gas & Electric\u2019s Diablo Nuclear power plant on the central coast sits on more and bigger seismic faults than previously realized. Also problematic is that curbing its huge intake of coastal seawater for cooling remains mired in controversy. A PG&E report issued earlier this year shows that the faults are longer than previously known. Many scientists are concerned that the area could be subject to a stronger earthquake than the plant ultimately is designed to withstand. Meanwhile, the State Water Resources Control Board has been unable to make a decision about how to cut the impact on marine life of using ocean water to cool Diablo. Also not nice is the intense and largely unmeasured energy consumed by groundwater pumping plants in California\u2014a state that swings between drought and floods. California\u2019s massive agriculture industry uses ground and surface water for irrigation, with the use of the former soaring as supplies from rivers and lakes diminish. But, the energy use is largely unmeasured. During times of drought, the amount of groundwater pumped by electric-, diesel- and natural gas-powered pumps makes up about 60 percent of the state\u2019s water supply resources. Pumping groundwater is energy intensive, with the amount used tied to the depth of pumping and amount of water lifted to the surface. Back in 2003, electrically-pumped groundwater by public water suppliers to irrigation projects and other uses alone consumed about 10,000 GWh. Given the clear tie between water and energy use, the power use of pumps across the state should be measured so that effective strategies can be developed for saving both water and energy. Finally, far too many speeches and resources are focused on the infamous \u201cDuck Curve,\u201d that warns of grid destabilization due to larger amounts of solar and wind energy resources that plummet most days as demand rises late in the afternoon. There should be equal focus on strategies and technologies that can trim the duck fat. That includes having demand response and energy efficiency programs play a far more significant role in the state energy market. Making energy storage a key player sooner rather than later also can help. Hopefully, there is the real possibility that a breakthrough technology will soon make this threat\/worry for naught.