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Five Fed Energy Regulators at the Helm

19 Jan

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s first meeting of 2021 was the first time in many months that it operated with a full five-member board. The last time there was a full commission was August 2018. “A little bit of normality is creeping back in,” James Danley, FERC chair, said at the start of the Jan. […]

Community Microgrid Advocates Left Waiting by CPUC

14 Jan

California is committed on paper to advancing private and public microgrids to protect communities from wildfire shutoffs, but a key step just taken by regulators favors projects advanced by the investor-owned utilities. A California Public Utilities Commission decision approved 4-0 on Jan. 14 makes way for the installation of 30 microgrids to power critical facilities—from […]

Final Blackout Study Calls for More Reserves, Warns of Diablo & Pacific Line Risk

14 Jan

Details on the key causes of the mid-August blackouts are out, and consistent with an earlier analysis. They highlight market and planning flaws and a system thin on the cushion of extra power, or resource adequacy, the grid requires. The final analysis also points to an acute concern over two scenarios: a sudden loss of […]

Shorts

12 Jan

The Public Advocates Office announced it saved California ratepayers more than $3 billion in utility rates last year. “The impacts of COVID-19 and the increasing frequency of wildfires have made our advocacy that much more important for Californians,” Elizabeth Echols, Director of CalAdvocates, said Jan. 11. She stressed the need for affordable safe utility services–from […]

CPUC Orders Utilities to Line Up More Resources for Peak Summer Demand

11 Jan

To avoid rolling outages due to electricity supply shortages, state officials direct the three investor-owned utilities to line up additional resources by mid-February. The aim is to ensure peak demand and demand as the sun sets, known as net peak, are met this summer.   Under a Jan. 8 proposed decision by an administrative law […]

The Buzz

7 Jan

Three is not a charm for Pacific Gas & Electric. Its problematic 1,150 MW Unit 2 at its Diablo nuclear plant is down for a third time because of a new issue. The soonest it will be back online is the end of May. A quintet of community energy agencies receive solid credit ratings, which […]

More Community Aggregators Come of Age, Get Rated

7 Jan

Community energy organizations in California continue to do well on their early investment credit ratings, with five of the entities now rated. Two Bay Area community energy organizations, which supply energy to former private utility ratepayers, are the most recent to receive solid grades. Silicon Valley Clean Energy received an “A” from S&P Global Ratings […]

News Roundup: New CPUC Executive Director

6 Jan

The California Public Utilities Commission named a new executive director to replace the former chief Alice Stebbins, who was fired in August. Rachel Peterson, who has been the Acting Executive Director, became the new director Jan. 5. “It is a great move for the CPUC,” Arthur O’Donnell, energy analyst and journalist, and former CPUC staffer, […]

Edison Reimagines California’s Distribution System

5 Jan

Distributed energy’s explosive growth makes integrating it in a way that supports the power system critical, according to a new white paper from Southern California Edison. The paper forecasts significant growth of distributed energy resources (DER) in California and “we want to have the system technologies to see and manage their impacts,” SCE VP of Asset […]

FERC Votes 2-1 Against Interfering in CAISO Market

17 Dec

The California grid operator dodged a bullet Dec. 17 when federal regulators voted down an order that would have required the California Independent System Operator to prove its mid-August outages were not caused by an unreasonable market tariff. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Rich Glick said FERC has already exacerbated problems in three eastern regional […]

CPUC Acts to Advance Electric Vehicles

17 Dec

The California Public Utilities Commission has passed three more measures to promote electric vehicles. “These decisions will help with rates, charging behavior, infrastructure, and investment in underserved communities,” Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen said Dec. 17. In the first action, the Commission eliminated demand charges for commercial owners of electric vehicles in San Diego Gas & Electric […]

Integrating Variable Resources and Flexible Demand

7 Dec

What is the best way to mix in growing levels of intermittent renewable resources in networks such as California’s, as it marches towards a 100% clean energy portfolio by 2045? Among the usual suspects are better interconnections, and more generation diversity, including more storage and price responsive demand, a resource traditionally neglected. A newly released […]

PG&E Rates Climb and Climb Again

3 Dec

As Californians pay higher electric bills because work and other activities are confined to home, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a request from Pacific Gas & Electric to increase its revenue this year by $9.1 billion, a nearly 7% increase over last year. In 2021, there will be an additional $316 million rise […]

Diablo Canyon Unit Down Again

3 Dec

One of two main units at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant is down for the third time. Soon after Unit 2 was restarted over the Thanksgiving weekend after a month-and-a-half long outage, Pacific Gas & Electric again had to take it offline. The problem continues to be with an electric generator component that was […]

Four More NorCal Cities Ban Natural Gas in New Buildings

3 Dec

San Jose, Oakland, plus two Silicon Valley cities—Los Altos and Sunnyvale—voted to restrict natural gas use in new construction. San Jose and Oakland both voted Dec. 1 that beginning next June and August respectively, most new residential and commercial construction will be all-electric. Both city councils are expected to cast their final vote on the […]

CAISO’s Energy Imbalance Market Has Taken Big Steps but Faces Competition

2 Dec

California’s energy imbalance market had a good 2020. It passed $1 billion in total benefits, added two powerhouse participants, and filed its first plan for expanding into day-ahead trading. But the question of how California can share decision-making with other states continues to block that expansion and potential participants are looking at alternatives. The voluntary EIM […]

San Francisco Utility Chief Charged with Bribery

1 Dec

The Department of Justice announced Nov. 30 it has charged the head of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Harlan Kelly, with accepting bribes. Later that same day, Kelly announced he was retiring a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule. He said it was both “painful” to end his 35-year career because of “false allegations” and impossible […]

Guest Juice: Solar Gets Better, Cheaper

24 Nov

By Feiridoon Sioshansi Solar projects, particularly the utility-scale variety, are now considered the cheapest way to generate power in California and many other parts of the U.S., according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s new report 2020 Utility-Scale Solar Data Update. It provides the latest trends in ground-mounted solar projects larger than 5 MWAC. It […]

Chatterjee Stands by Carbon Pricing Support, FERC Launches Transmission Rating Fix

19 Nov

The first meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission since the presidential election, and the first since President Trump removed Neil Chatterjee as chair, began unusually late. Chatterjee began by saying he presumably was demoted earlier this month because of his support for opening the door to state carbon pricing. But “It was the right thing […]

CAISO Rules Evolve to Accommodate Solar Plus Storage

19 Nov

To accommodate the growth in battery projects paired with solar plants, the California grid operator’s board Nov. 18 further loosened constraints and will allow project operators to send more or less power into the market than initially bid. Allowing deviations from original bids aims to use more renewable power produced by combined solar-battery generators, reducing […]

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