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The Buzz

18 Feb

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chief calls the multi-day power outage in Texas a “humanitarian crisis.” FERC is looking into what went wrong during the unusually icy conditions. It urges politicians, the media, and others to not speculate on the cause of the loss of power. Soaring demand in Texas, frozen power plants, and massive […]

FERC Chair: Texas Outages a “Humanitarian Crisis,” Agency Opens Door to Enviro Justice

18 Feb

The massive days-long power outage caused by frigid weather across Texas and the Midwest, resulting in numerous deaths, is a “humanitarian crisis,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Rich Glick declared. He and his fellow commissioner urged against pointing fingers at any one energy resource causing the power shortages, whether gas plants or wind turbines, at […]

News Roundup: CAISO Calls for Conservation, PG&E Reaches 10M Securities Settlement

17 Feb

Updated Feb. 18 In a reversal of high heat and demand causing rolling blackouts in California, Texas suffered far larger and longer blackouts this week because of unusually icy conditions. More than 4 million customers lost power because thermal power plants were unable to operate. Wind turbines also froze. “Extreme weather conditions caused many generating […]

The Buzz

11 Feb

The ever-growing tab from months of unpaid utility bills will soon come due. Who gets saddled with that debt, currently $1.15 billion, remains to be seen? The California Public Utilities Commission will look at repayment options. Unpaid bills of $1 billion and climbing gets dwarfed by the $15 billion in additional spending the private utilities […]

More Fossil Power to Meet Summer 2021 Peak Demand Expected

11 Feb

In anticipation of high summer demand, including when the sun sets, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered investor-owned utilities to line up more supply resources, expected largely to be gas-fired power. That runs counter to the state mandate to ramp down fossil-fueled electricity to zero. “Customers deserve a reliable grid,” CPUC President Marybel Batjer said […]

The Buzz

4 Feb

State regulatory staff propose further crimping demand response, much to the dismay of advocates of these behind-the-meter resources. Making matters worse for them is the disparity in treatment between DR and fossil power plants. The City of San Diego plans to issue a second request for bids for electricity and gas services because the long-time […]

CPUC is Heading Backwards on Demand Response Forward on Gas Plants

4 Feb

Instead of increasing demand response to help avoid blackouts during intense heat, a California Public Utilities Commission staff proposal would continue restricting its use on grounds some resources failed to show up during the August outages. At the same time, the fleet of gas plants are getting increased financial support in order to play a […]

Shorts

19 Jan

The federal D.C Circuit Court of Appeals Jan. 19 struck down the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy rule, which loosened greenhouse gas limits on power plants. “For four years, the Trump administration has propagated the outright lie that the Clean Power Plan relied on regulatory techniques never used before, and the EPA constructed an unsupportable […]

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 […]

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 […]

CPUC Speeds Up Effort to Bring More Power Online

8 Oct

The California Public Utilities Commission vowed Oct. 8 to accelerate its usual process in order to make more energy resources available by next summer. It also promised to modernize planning to reflect extreme heat, particularly as solar and wind supplies decrease with the setting sun.  The commitment was made two days after the California Independent […]

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 […]

The Buzz

18 Sep

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 […]

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: The Road from Coal to Green Hydrogen

28 Jul

Back in 2006, the California legislature passed a bill limiting imports of electricity from coal-fired power plants in other states, as well as from new and upgraded in-state natural gas facilities. SB 1368 by former Sen. Don Perata (D-Oakland) was groundbreaking, requiring utility supply contracts to not exceed a greenhouse gas emissions cap. It sent […]

Grid Managers Ease the Way for Growing Energy Storage Paired w/ Solar

23 Jul

The California grid operator agreed to allow owners of power plants that include both solar and batteries to operate the two sources in tandem. The California Independent System Operator board approved the change July 22 in response to the surging trend of pairing energy storage with solar projects. It is aimed at filling the 3,300 […]

Sacramento Makes Bold Move to 100% Clean Power by 2030

20 Jul

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District board voted unanimously the evening of July 16 for an extremely aggressive carbon neutral power target: 100% in just ten years. Previously the utility had aimed for 2040. California’s all out carbon neutral electricity mandate is set for 2045. “The threat of climate change is too great for anything short […]

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 […]

Hard Times for Independent Generators

12 May

Updated May 13 The six merchant generators with operations in California saw their net income fall, some slightly, others significantly. All have felt the impact of the pandemic and resulting drop in commercial and industrial power demand. But the companies have largely been able to keep their construction projects on track. Calpine: Earnings declined for […]

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