The California Public Utilities Commission imposed a $550 million hit on Southern California Edison for the devastation caused by fires its equipment sparked in 2017 and 2018, including the Thomas and Woolsey fires. Five died, 385,000 acres were torched and 3,000 structures were destroyed. The resolution approved on a 4-1 vote Dec. 16 includes a $110 million fine for sparking the fires, $65 million from SCE shareholders to fund safety measures, and a prohibition on SCE recovering $375 million of certain wildfire related costs. Commissioner Darcie Houck voted against the settlement for excluding stakeholders and lacking transparency. That includes opaqueness in tracking whether SCE will seek to recover costs disallowed in this week’s resolution elsewhere, such as in its Wildfire Mitigation Plan budget.
Federal regulators launched a proposed rulemaking Dec. 16 that seeks to update weather forecasting to better assess how much capacity high voltage lines can carry. “This is a pretty big deal,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Rich Glick said, noting the need to increase transmission line efficiency to improve reliability, and reduce congestion and consumers costs. Commissioner Mark Christie said forecasting improvements are needed as a first step to improve transmission efficiencies. Current forecasts on how much power transmission lines can transport and whether resources need to be curtailed are based on limited worst case long-term weather conditions. FERC proposes allowing transmission owners to use ambient adjusted dynamic forecasts that factor in a wider range of weather variables, including wind speeds, and cloud cover, to increase the accuracy of near-term line ratings.
East Bay Community Energy is the biggest community aggregator to land a ‘A’ credit rating from S&P Global Ratings. The improved rating will lower EBCE costs of long-term renewable contracts and save its customers money. The strong rating “translates to better access and service of low-cost, long-term renewable energy for EBCE customers in the decades to come,” said Nick Chaset EBCE CEO Dec. 16.
Marin Clean Energy just finished its first renewable project tied to the aggregator’s feed-in tariff. The new 5 MW Lake Herman Solar Project, developed with San Francisco-based Renewable Properties, paid construction workers the prevailing wage. The tariff gives developers incentivized rates for renewable energy development in Marin’s service area.