By Published On: December 19, 2014

The Harry Allen-Eldorado Transmission line won approval from the California Independent System Operator Dec. 18. The 500 kV line should provide 200 MW of additional import capacity into California from Nevada, which should each year result in up to $10.8 million of levelized economic dispatch and capacity cost savings by giving the grid operator more flexibility, according to a CAISO memo on the line. The grid operator’s governing board Dec. 18 okayed a $198.5 million revenue requirement in approving a 2015 budget. That’s $500,000 more than in 2014, representing an average annual growth rate of 0.6 percent since 2007. Due to increased transmission volume, the bundled grid management charge on power transmitted will decrease slightly. The California Independent System Operator adopted rule changes Dec. 18 to improve wholesale market efficiency. The changes include applying administrative pricing rules when market clearing prices are not available, validating self-schedules supported with transmission contract or ownership rights, forming contingency-related constraints, and forming market constraints to ensure unique market clearing prices. It is triennial review of nuclear plant decommissioning trusts, state regulators largely agreed with utilities’ estimates for their operating and closed nuclear plants. The California Public Utilities Dec. 18 approved Edison’s decommissioning cost estimates for San Onofre units 2 and 3 of $22.29 million/year, and $182.3 million for the SONG’s unit 1 closed in 1992. Edison’s revenue estimate of $513.5 million for the Palo Verde decommissioning cost also was approved. San Diego Gas & Electric’s decommissioning costs for SONGS Units 1, 2 & 3 for the next three years are $36.5 million, $40 million, and $42 million respectively. However, the CPUC said the trust funds for SONGS unit 1 and Palo Verde were adequately funded so there are to be no collections this three-year cycle from Edison or SDG&E customers. The Commission also signed off on a decommissioning cost estimate of $82.52 million for the Diablo Canyon and $2.28 million for the shuttered Humboldt plant. Also approved were the utilities’ proposed returns on equity, which for Edison is 7.79 percent, SDG&E 7.48 percent. and PG&E 7.50 percent. Rates on fixed income investments are 4.27 percent for Edison, 4.25 percent for SDG&E, and 2.9 percent for PG&E. Strong storms in Northern and Southern California knocked out power for more than half a million people last week. In Pacific Gas & Electric territory, 500,000 lost power between Dec. 10 and Dec. 12. By Dec. 13, most of the power was restored. “Of the 500,000 customers who lost service during the storm, more than 95 percent saw their power restored in less than 48 hours,” PG&E stated. On Dec. 12, 34,000 Los Angeles Department of Water & Power customers lost power, which has been restored. The cost of small solar rooftops varies dramatically between regions. “Although average prices for solar PV have declined substantially over time, we continue to observe high levels of variability in pricing from one system to another, both within and across regions,” said Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Ryan Wiser, a co-author of a study released Dec. 15. The cost of similar residential and small business photovoltaic installation ranged last year from $3.90/Watt to more than $5.60/Watt. The study also was authored by Berkeley Lab and researchers at Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Texas-Austin. Congress appropriated $1.93 billion for the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy for the rest of the 2015 fiscal year. That is a $25 million increase from the previous year. The advanced manufacturing office and weatherization assistance programs received increases of 11 percent and 9 percent respectively, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, while the buildings, vehicles, and federal energy management programs received small cuts. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power plans to transfer $265.6 million to city of Los Angeles coffers in fiscal year 2014/15. The department traditionally transfers to city hall some of its proceeds from supplying power to the city. The transfer by the public power system is analogous to shareholder dividends paid by investor-owned utilities.

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