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Shorts

4 Aug

Updated Aug. 6 Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Bernard McNamee will depart the agency Sept. 4. McNamee, whose term formally expired at the end of June, announced Aug. 5 his final day on the commission. He thanked President Trump for nominating him, adding “I will have more to say before I leave.”  Last week, Trump announced […]

Bay Area Aggregators Launch Big Home Battery Backup Plan

30 Jul

Three Bay Area community choice energy organizations announced a deal with Sunrun for 20 MW of new behind-the-meter solar plus battery backup in their territories to keep electricity flowing during shutoffs.  Under this novel agreement announced July 30, East Bay Community Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy will promote the Sunrun residential […]

The Buzz

16 Jul

PG&E sparked last fall’s Kincaid wildfire, CalFire reveals. State regulators launch a cutting edge framework for figuring how big a hit combined utility bills are for low income ratepayers. The scrutinized tab will include electricity, gas, telecommunication and water bills. More than two years after the near-devastating crumbling of the Oroville dam spillway, federal energy […]

Energy Commission Delves into Vehicle-to-Grid Technologies

16 Jul

Much of the focus for providing backup power during shutoffs has been on microgrids, but attention shifted to allowing electric vehicles—small and large—to supply power during outages. Zero emission car and bus batteries can provide local power, but regulatory and financial barriers stand in the way. Speakers at a July 15 workshop convened by the […]

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 […]

CA Prepares to Rely More on Microgrids

7 Jul

Updated July 8 California is trying to deploy microgrids as fast as possible to prevent blackouts during wildfires and power shutoffs. The push going forward is to find out how to make them pencil out, bring them into the 21st century and make them environmentally friendly. “We have got to get cleaner and quieter backup,” […]

CA Gas Utilities Produce Cutting Edge Clean Biogas

23 Jun

SoCal Gas and Pacific Gas & Electric announced June 22 a significant breakthrough in a new electrochemical technology that converts carbon dioxide in raw biogas to renewable natural gas that can be put into pipelines. It is a “critical improvement in the science of upgrading waste emissions to renewable gas,” according to the utilities. This […]

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 […]

Humboldt Towns Protected Against Shutoffs, Locals Say the Change is Overdue

16 Jun

When power is deliberately shut off to avoid fires amid high wind in Pacific Gas & Electric territory, 20 cities along the North Coast won’t have to worry. That is because PG&E reconfigured its 163 MW natural gas fired power plant in Humboldt County so it can disconnect from the grid and continue supplying the […]

Packed CPUC Agenda Includes Approving PG&E Diesel Backup

11 Jun

State utility regulators June 11 addressed the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop and continued systematic racism near and far, including at the California Public Utilities Commission. They also held 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to remember Floyd’s death on May 25. Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma said that while the five commissioners […]

CPUC Okays IOUs $15B Fire Risk Reduction Plans

11 Jun

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday signed off on all the utilities’ 2020 wildfire mitigation plans despite “significant concerns,” raised by staff. The total tab of the plans by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric is an estimated $15 billion. Regulators, however, did not discuss the price […]

JUICE: Falling Off the Clean Energy Wagon

9 Jun

Updated June 11 Since the start of this century, California has been working to wean the electricity sector off addictive and harmful fossil-fueled generation. A homegrown 12-step recovery program has produced impressive strides. But key players, and Pacific Gas & Electric in particular, are allowed to fall off the wagon. State energy regulators approved June […]

The Buzz

4 Jun

Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to reduce wildfire threats and safety outages is half empty or half full, depending on your perspective. While the CPUC President says she is optimistic about the improvements in the 2020 plan, she has doubts about it being successfully implemented. In spite of the concerns, none are raised about its […]

Success of PG&E’s Wildfire Plan Iffy, Lawmakers Told

4 Jun

With the threat of wildfires approaching, lawmakers wanted details on Pacific Gas & Electric’s mitigation plans, including how it will reduce the impacts of its public safety shutoffs during hot and windy conditions. Rachel Peterson, deputy director of the California Public Utilities Commission, reported to the Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee that PG&E was […]

Diesel and Gas Backup Generator Bills Advance

1 Jun

Two bills promoting the use of diesel and natural gas fueled backup generation during planned safety outages passed the Senate Natural Resources Committee May 27. SB 1099 by Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) relieves hospitals and other critical facilities that fire up diesel generators during power outages of any threat–real or perceived–that they will be fined […]

The Buzz

28 May

The California Public Utilities Commission approves Pacific Gas & Electric’s huge debt package to get it out of federal bankruptcy court by the end of June as directed by state legislation.   Moving on a parallel track is legislation setting the stage for California to seize PG&E’s gas and electric assets. Putting the utility under […]

CPUC Gives PG&E Bankruptcy Plan the Green Light

28 May

State utility regulators May 28 unanimously signed off on a $58 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan for Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility. Marybel Batjer, California Public Utilities Commission president, said the plan leaves some important power in the hands of regulators, including the ability to force PG&E to prioritize customer safety. She said that, […]

Hearing on PG&E Takeover Bill Delayed

28 May

A key vote on dramatic legislation allowing the state to turn Pacific Gas & Electric into a state-owned, non-profit power agency was postponed May 28. Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee Chair Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) said the author asked for more time to work out the provisions of SB 350, creating Golden State Energy. SB 350’s […]

Batjer Wins Easy Confirmation as CPUC President

27 May

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously confirmed Marybel Batjer as the California Public Utilities Commission president May 27. Batjer, who appeared by video stream before the committee, faced no opposition from committee members or the public. “We are very lucky to have you,” Senate pro Tem Toni Atkins said before the 4-0 confirmation vote. Batjer was […]

Shutoffs, Microgrids & Digital Divide are the Focus of Passed Bills

27 May

Legislation to mitigate power shutoff impacts, and bolster microgrid installations to keep power flowing during and after fires, were passed by masked members of the Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee May 26. Also included in the small stack of bills approved at the Committee’s first public hearing since issuance of the stay-at-home orders are […]