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Lawmakers Told Grid Imbalances Can Be Solved by Next Summer

13 Oct

The California Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee Vice Chair Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) castigated the state’s three energy agencies at a Monday hearing, saying their joint report on rolling outages in August was essentially finger pointing and excuses. The heads of those agencies, the California Public Utilities Commission, grid operator and California Energy Commission, continued to […]

How High California Must Jump to Top Zero Emissions Bar

13 Oct

California can achieve a zero-emissions economy by 2045 with existing technologies, but only if the state adds a lot more solar, wind, and battery storage each year. It specifically requires that over the next 25 years, annual build outs of these resources exceed their single biggest growth year to date, according to a draft joint […]

Failure to Grasp Climate and Grid Changes Led to Outages

7 Oct

Utilities underestimated the energy they would need. Forecasts by state agencies were out of date. The heat was extreme. Natural gas and renewable resources were offline, and imports were constrained. All five of these are to blame for California’s mid-August blackouts, according to the first formal investigation into its cause. The preliminary assessment by the […]

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

6 Oct

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 Buzz

2 Oct

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 […]

News Roundup: PG&E Seeks $2B more for Past Fire Costs

1 Oct

Pacific Gas & Electric is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for authority to charge ratepayers another $2 billion for costs of the 2017 wildfires and 2018 Camp Fire. It also wants approval to sell its century-old headquarters in San Francisco. The utility seeks “$1.18 billion in expense and $801 million in capital expenditures, which […]

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

1 Oct

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 […]

The Buzz

25 Sep

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 […]

California Bans Gasoline Cars in 2035

23 Sep

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Sept. 23 directing the sale of gasoline-fueled cars and small trucks to end within 15 years. This year’s worsening climate-exacerbated wildfires across the state was a key motivator. “We had to do more to make a big difference,” Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board chair, said during the […]

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

23 Sep

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 […]

Net Present Value for Dummies

23 Sep

The new law created by AB 1054 seeks to tamp down rising utility bills by mandating that when the companies issue bonds paid back by ratepayers they use the lowest rate possible to save customers the most money. That is to be accomplished by applying a net present value analysis. This analysis reflects that a […]

Why Did Two California Power Plants Go Offline When Needed?

15 Sep

Anticipation surrounds a multi-agency analysis of which power plants unexpectedly went offline and what failures may have precipitated the call for rolling power outages in California mid-August. Now the release of that analysis is delayed until October rather than later this month.  The California Independent System Operator, California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission, […]

Juice: Scrutiny of Demand Response Failures Needed

15 Sep

The analysis of the rolling blackouts is in the works but there was advanced warning of some serious systematic problems, making some mistakes avoidable. The joint agency root cause report of the mid-August blackouts may be underway, but some problems were just waiting to happen. California was clearly and inexcusably on a path to rely […]

The Buzz

11 Sep

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 […]

Energy Chair Sounds Alarm Over Skyrocketing Electric Bills

9 Sep

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, […]

PG&E Shuts off Power in 22 Counties, SDG&E & SCE Customers Lose Power

8 Sep

High temperatures and fires over the Labor Day weekend put the grid to the test. While the California Independent System Operator managed to keep supply and demand in balance Sept. 5-7, tens of thousands of customers of the three investor-owned utilities lost power or had it shut off because of wildfires during and after the […]

The Cause of California’s Blackouts

8 Sep

Under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order, the California Public Utilities Commission has initiated a “root-cause analysis” of the state’s August 14-15 blackouts. Its joint report with the grid operator and California Energy Commission is expected to be completed at the end of this month. The blackouts were “intolerable,” but combined with the pandemic, west-wide heat storm, […]

Lawmakers Okay Smattering of Energy Bills

8 Sep

Updated Sept. 11 Fewer energy bills passed in the 2020 California legislative session than in any in the last two decades plus. The pandemic, shelter at home, and resulting focus on budget difficulties largely are responsible for the dramatic fall in energy measures making it to the governor’s desk. “It was pretty much a bust,” […]

Ratepayers to Continue Funding Programs to Green the Grid

27 Aug

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved charging ratepayers $1.4 billion over the next decade to continue paying for emerging clean energy technologies. These include those that help create a clean reliable grid, reduce air pollution in struggling communities, advance zero and low emission vehicles and reduce wildfire risks. “In California we know we need […]

Withered Demand Response Blamed for Rolling Outages

26 Aug

The grid operator, state energy regulators and utilities largely abandoned demand response that would have provided enough electricity to avert outages during the recent heat wave, advocates of the policy say. And the numbers back them up. Rather than strengthen demand response, in which energy users cut back to leave more electricity on the grid […]

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