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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 […]

The Buzz

20 Aug

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 […]

Speedy Analysis of Rolling Blackouts Ordered

20 Aug

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the heads of the California Public Utilities Commission, Independent System Operator and California Energy Commission to immediately determine why they failed to anticipate the mid-August squeeze on electricity resources and the cause of the rolling outages. In a letter sent early this week, the governor also demanded to know how the […]

CA Gets It that the Power System Must Manage EV Charging

18 Aug

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.  […]

CA Grid Operator: “We are scouring every corner of our world.”

17 Aug

More than 3 million California homes could have their power cut off by the three investor-owned utilities starting late afternoon on Monday, Steve Berberich, California Independent System Operator president and chief executive officer, said. “It is a perfect storm,” he warned during an Aug. 17 early afternoon press call. Demand is expected to be higher […]

The Buzz

6 Aug

Months of speculation as to who would be the CA grid operator’s new chief ends with the naming of Bonneville Power Administration head Elliott Mainzer. He says he wants to build on the success of the Energy Imbalance Market, which BPA joins next year. A nasty dispute between state utility commissioners and the executive director […]

Fracking Protection Bill Sputters

6 Aug

Legislation to require setbacks between natural gas and oil wells and playgrounds, schools, hospitals, and homes to protect the health of predominantly communities of color failed the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee Aug. 5. But it was revived by a 5-3 vote to reconsider it in the future. AB 345 by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi […]

Bills on Lithium Extraction, EV Charging, Biomethane Advance

4 Aug

The Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee met this week and passed four energy bills. The committee had halted reconvening mid-July after one lawmaker and some staff were found to be infected with Covid-19. The quartet of measures approved Aug. 3 promote electric vehicle chargers and school efficiency, lithium recovery in the Imperial Valley, turning […]

The Buzz

10 Jul

As wildfires spread, the governor increases the state budget to add more than 850 firefighters. Given the double whammy of fire threats and the pandemic, firefighters are directed to take necessary safety steps, including wearing masks and social distancing.  The same rules will apply to those evacuated by the state. How to ensure the financing […]

Newsom Beefs Up Fire Fighting Budget, Adds Social Distancing Plan

9 Jul

As summer temperatures increase, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the addition of 858 fire fighters in CaFire ranks and six new California Conservation crews. Safety protocols to avoid the spread of Covid-19 will be in place for firefighters and those evacuated. “Even in a challenging budget climate, we have undertaken major action and made significant investments […]

The Buzz

2 Jul

Before the start of the fireworks, Pacific Gas & Electric announced it funded most of the $6.75 billion cash payment to fire victims. It also lined up another $12 billion to pay insurance claims as well as cities impacted by utility-sparked fires that burned from 2015-2018. Hydrogen fuel to lower transportation emissions, California’s biggest source […]

CA Budget Seeds PG&E Alternative

1 Jul

There is a clue in the new budget agreed to by lawmakers and the governor that they are serious about taking over PG&E and turning it into a non-profit utility. The budget contains a provision for a $50 million loan to the new entity under the newly enacted SB 350. That law says PG&E would […]

Bill Creating a Public Gas & Electric Becomes Law

30 Jun

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law June 30 legislation creating a state takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric if it is unable to complete its $58 billion in post bankruptcy financing by Sept. 30. If poorly maintained utility equipment causes another fire or disaster that also would trigger the takeover under SB 350 by Sen. […]

Court Approves PG&E $60B Financing Scheme, Company Issues More Debt

23 Jun

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court confirmed Pacific Gas & Electric’s $58 billion reorganization to resolve massive claims—from wildfire victims and other creditors—10 days ahead of a legislative June 30 deadline. That is the final date for accessing the $21 billion utility ratepayer and shareholder funded fire trust, which PG&E and the court have kept their eyes […]

The Buzz

18 Jun

Landowners’ legal challenge to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s practice of allowing land to be seized for a pipeline before deciding whether to reconsider a granted permit forces FERC to ease its rehearing rules. However, the one dissenting commissioner says the new rule is a hollow victory for aggrieved property owners. Private and public utilities […]

Budget Overshadows Green Energy Bills

16 Jun

Legislation to create a California Green New Deal, along with other clean energy measures propelled forward by the pandemic, have been sidelined by the state budget crisis. AB 1839 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) would set an intent to attain clean energy, and environmental, housing and job equity goals similar to those in last year’s […]

The Buzz

11 Jun

After months of few energy items on the California Public Utilities Commission business meeting agendas, this week’s one is dense, and action packed. After honoring the death of George Floyd, the five utility regulators approve Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to install diesel-fueled generators to provide power during safety outages. The CPUC also signs off […]

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