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The Buzz

23 Oct 2020


State utility regulators allow Pacific Gas & Electric to fold $447 million into rates to recoup part of its wildfire tab. Whether these incurred costs linked to different accounts are reasonable will be determined later.

Also this week, a majority of the California Public Utilities Commission refuses to back a penalty program aimed at stopping poor ratepayers from being ripped off by sleezy solar contractors...

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Recurring Problem Forced Diablo Canyon Nuke Unit Offline

20 Oct 2020


The untimely Oct. 15 shut down of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant’s Unit 2 is the second malfunction in a critical component of its electric generator, which was just rebuilt. In July, the same Pacific Gas & Electric unit was forced offline because then, as now, the cooling system that lowers the extreme heat inside the spinning generator was leaking hydrogen gas, which is the cooling fluid...

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CPUC Judge Adds Ratepayer Protections to $337M SCE Bond

20 Oct 2020


The California Public Utilities Commission pushes back against a controversial proposal by Southern California Edison to put its ratepayers on the hook for $337 million in new debt. The utility plans to raise the money from bondholders to cover its costs of hardening power equipment against fire threats, which will be fully repaid by SCE customers.

An administrative law judge proposes establishing a financial team to ensure that this first revival of utility securitized bonds comes with the lowest possible costs to ratepayers...

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The Buzz

16 Oct 2020


The grid operator calls for conservation in the face of spiking temperatures along the Southern California Coast and in the northern part of the state. Peak demand is not the issue: the large Diablo nuclear power plant going offline and fire threats are.

Federal energy regulators agree to allow carbon pricing into grid markets. But okays are to be made on a case by case basis, and on condition that the state pricing mechanism is not deemed a subsidy...

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News Roundup: Diablo Goes Down during Flex Alert

15 Oct 2020


Updated Oct. 16

Temperatures at the Southern California coast and in parts of northern California are projected to be 15-25 degrees above normal and the state grid operator has called for residents and businesses to conserve electricity. Making matters worse is that the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and its 2,200 megawatts of power went offline.

Diablo’s Unit 1 has been undergoing a scheduled maintenance and been offline since Oct...

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The Buzz

9 Oct 2020


The release of the much anticipated first analysis of the major causes of the mid-August blackouts highlights warnings previously raised. That includes agency resource forecasting and planning missing the mark on climate and a cleaner grid.

Major stakeholders—from utilities to community energy—insist that clean reliable resources are needed now more than ever. The California Public Utilities promises to accelerate its resource planning to reflect the changing climate and grid...

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Report: Salton Sea ‘Lithium Valley’ Could Supply 33% of Global Demand

6 Oct 2020


Just one week after a law was signed in California creating a special committee to explore the potential of the Salton Sea to yield significant amounts of lithium, a report concludes it could result in a multi-billion dollar windfall for the state and its electric vehicles. The report by the non-profit New Energy Nexus says the extraction could help the economy recover from the pandemic, create thousands of jobs, and make the state a key player in the competitive battery market...

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The Buzz

2 Oct 2020


Pacific Gas & Electric seeks a couple of billion dollars more from ratepayer pocketbooks for utility-sparked wildfires in 2017 and 2018. It also asks state regulators for the green light to put its long-time headquarters in San Francisco up for sale. It says it will give the gain to customers. In other news, the grid operator board rolls out the welcome mat for its new chief.

The head of the Assembly energy committee tells Current that Southern California Edison’s possible pursuit of more expensive financing in place of AAA rated bonds to cover a few hundred million dollars in wildfire won't be fully paid by ratepayers...

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CPUC, not SCE, Calls Shots on Ratepayer Bonds, Lawmaker Says

1 Oct 2020


Southern California Edison is threatening to use pricier financing to recoup $337 million in wildfire costs if the California Public Utilities Commission doesn’t okay its controversial plan to issue bonds fully secured by ratepayers. SCE says it will recover the costs “through traditional utility financing, which will cost customers more,” in an opening brief filed Sept. 25.  

Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee Chair Chris Holden took issue with the threat...

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The Buzz

25 Sep 2020


Southern California Edison reaches a $2 billion settlement with insurance firms that paid business and residential claims for their losses from wildfires in 2017-18 fires and mudslides. It includes funds for claims filed through mid-2023.

The same day, the City of San Diego formally opens bidding for its electric and gas right-of-way franchise. It has been held by San Diego Gas & Electric, whose competitors now include Warren Buffet...

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New Bonds Put Ratepayers 100% on the Hook, and the Tab?

23 Sep 2020


Consumer advocates are warning that a test case before the California Public Utilities Commission will set a grave precedent for Californians if regulators give it the okay. At issue is how much private utilities get to charge ratepayers for bonds they issue to cover their wildfire costs, including protecting against blazes.

Southern California Edison plans to issue $327 million in bonds, specifically a type of instrument known as securitized bonds, which are paid back entirely by ratepayers...

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The Buzz

18 Sep 2020


Groundbreaking action by federal regulators requires grid operators to open their doors to aggregated power from energy storage, solar rooftops, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency. CAISO is ahead of the regional transmission operator pack, but the new rule is expected to ease the way for more clean distributed resources into its grid.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also investigates the causes of California’s rolling blackouts...

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Fed Commodities Regulators Break the Mold with Call for Carbon Pricing

17 Sep 2020


The climate crisis threatens the stability of the U.S. financial markets, warned commissioners appointed by the current president to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in a recent report.

Although their report has not been approved by the full commission, Emilie Mazzacurati, founder/CEO of climate risk analyst 427, called it miraculous in the current political environment. She added that it sets out principles a new administration could use to ameliorate climate risks...

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The Buzz

11 Sep 2020


Northern San Diegans vigorously protest San Diego’s plan to upgrade and extend a big power line from San Marcos to Escondido. After listening to concerns about fire and financial dangers, as well as visual blight, the California Public Utilities Commission pulls the item from this week’s business meeting.

In other news, the utility regulators learn that the Klamath dam removal has not ground to a halt since federal regulators changed the terms of the settlement...

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Energy Chair Sounds Alarm Over Skyrocketing Electric Bills

9 Sep 2020


The Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee Chair warned that increases in California utility bills are becoming untenable. Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) pointed to the private utilities' tab to reduce climate-aggravated wildfires, which gets passed on to customers.

“Rates are really getting out of control,” Holden said during a Sept. 9 Power Association of Northern California meeting, held remotely...

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The Buzz

27 Aug 2020


State utility regulators sign off on funding the country’s biggest green public interest energy program and utility electric vehicle charging plan. The California Public Utilities Commission approves Southern California Edison’s $436 million program to install 38,000 electric car ports, focused on renters in and outside of struggling communities.

The CPUC also extends for a decade the California Energy Commission’s $1...

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California Builds Out EV Charging for Renters

27 Aug 2020


California regulators unanimously approved the largest utility electric car charging infrastructure program in the country. The California Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 to allow Southern California Edison to charge its ratepayer $436 million over the next four years to install 38,000 light duty vehicle chargers.

Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen recognized concerns about the program’s cost...

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The Buzz

20 Aug 2020


After 400,000 Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric customers had their power cut late last week because extreme heat spiked energy demand, Gov. Newsom tells energy officials to analyze the screw up. The grid operator, and heads of the California Public Utilities Commission and Energy Commission also must detail how their policy and/or programs contributed to the rolling outages...

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CA Gets It that the Power System Must Manage EV Charging

18 Aug 2020


California’s heat wave-induced blackouts came during evening peak demand spikes. If California fails to manage electric vehicle charging it could make those spikes a lot more common, according to new research.

California leads the U.S. with nearly 750,000  of the estimated 1.5 million U.S. light duty EVs. Electric vehicle sales rose over 60% in 2019.  The Golden State's goal is 5 million zero emission vehicles by 2030...

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The Buzz

14 Aug 2020


Triple digit temperatures across much of the state starting today will significantly drive up peak demand. The grid operator calls on customers to conserve energy the afternoon and evening of Aug. 14 to avoid overtaxing the grid because of a surge in air conditioning. Some warn that demand response is largely being left out of the mix.

The three investor-owned utilities present their latest plans for decreasing the reach of public shutoffs and protecting the medically and financially vulnerable...

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