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The Buzz

6 Nov

Neil Chatterjee, who has served as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair for more than two years, is suddenly replaced. President Trump late Thursday names James Danly the new FERC chief. In blue California, state utility regulators approve Southern California Edison’s plan to issue $337 million in ratepayer-backed bonds to recover the costs of making […]

SCE $337M Ratepayer-Funded Bond Approved

5 Nov

With no discussion, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to allow Southern California Edison to issue $337 million in bonds fully backed by ratepayers early next year. They are to cover the first round of the utility’s recent grid hardening costs. Intervenors who opposed SCE’s initial bond proposal, led by The Wild Tree Foundation, […]

CPUC Suspends Questionable Shareholder Bonuses

5 Nov

The California Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 to halt paying shareholders each year $30-$75 million from ratepayer pockets for unearned energy efficiency savings.  Cal Advocates, the ratepayer advocate at the CPUC, successfully argued there was no evidence that the energy efficiency bonus program has caused the private utilities to prioritize efficiency beyond what is required.  […]

Sempra Energy’s Earnings are Middle of the Road

5 Nov

Sempra Energy’s latest earnings were not as bright as those of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp, nor as dismal as Edison International’s, both of which were reported last week. Sempra’s profits fell to $421 million, or $1.21 a share, compared to $909 million, or $2.93 a share, in last year’s third quarter. At the same […]

PG&E Admits Flaws in Wildfire Reduction Program

3 Nov

Pacific Gas & Electric is acknowledging serious deficiencies in a program aimed at removing trees and limbs near utility equipment in high fire threat areas. Responding to criticisms raised last month, the utility agreed with the federal Court Monitor Mark Filip that its operational decisions “must give greater weight to working the riskiest areas first […]

Guest Juice: Energy Crisis 2.0: It’s Time to Use Our Smart Meters

2 Nov

The rolling blackouts, according to the Preliminary Report on Causes of August Rotating Outages, were fundamentally caused by a California Independent System Operator software glitch and community choice agencies, utilities and direct access providers collectively under-scheduling customer demand in the Day-Ahead Market by ~7% to 8% on Aug. 14 and 15. Ordinarily the under-scheduling wouldn’t […]

New Energy Providers Join Forces Against Entrenched Agency Rules

29 Oct

Bureaucratic red tape at the California Public Utilities Commission prevented East Bay Community Energy from contracting for clean, behind-the-meter electricity last year that could have provided power or lowered demand during the August heat waves. The resources were designated to help meet East Bay’s 2020 resource adequacy obligations. The community aggregator says it also is […]

The Old Must Yield to Clean Microgrids, Advocates Say

27 Oct

California is striving to attain a clean, reliable, and affordable grid, but getting there requires huge changes—from institutional to technological. Part and parcel of this transition is the age-old battle between the established and the newbies, with the former fighting to hold onto turf and the newcomers struggling to get some viable sod in an […]

CPUC Lets PG&E Recover $447M From Ratepayers for Wildfires

22 Oct

The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a request from Pacific Gas & Electric to pass on $447 million of its various wildfire mitigation costs to ratepayers without undergoing a reasonableness review. PG&E will raise residential rates over 17 months, starting this December, by an average $48. CPUC President Marybel Batjer insisted the approval “will […]

CPUC Judge Adds Ratepayer Protections to $337M SCE Bond

20 Oct

The California Public Utilities Commission pushes back against a controversial proposal by Southern California Edison to put its ratepayers on the hook for $337 million in new debt. The utility plans to raise the money from bondholders to cover its costs of hardening power equipment against fire threats, which will be fully repaid by SCE […]

“Super” CCA Collaboration for 500 MW of Long Duration Storage

19 Oct

Eight community choice aggregators are forming a procurement agency to jointly invest in much needed but neglected long duration energy storage. Leaders of the new Joint Powers Agency will issue a groundbreaking solicitation from their “super JPA“ that will pool the eight members’ resources and bid for up to 500 MW of long duration energy […]

The Buzz

16 Oct

The grid operator calls for conservation in the face of spiking temperatures along the Southern California Coast and in the northern part of the state. Peak demand is not the issue: the large Diablo nuclear power plant going offline and fire threats are. Federal energy regulators agree to allow carbon pricing into grid markets. But […]

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 […]

The Buzz

9 Oct

The release of the much anticipated first analysis of the major causes of the mid-August blackouts highlights warnings previously raised. That includes agency resource forecasting and planning missing the mark on climate and a cleaner grid. Major stakeholders—from utilities to community energy—insist that clean reliable resources are needed now more than ever. The California Public […]

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 […]

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 […]

Resurrected Ratepayer-Funded Bonds Lining Up

30 Sep

Updated Oct. 1 Pay attention to Southern California Edison’s request to quickly shift wildfire costs to customers. It plans to do this through a financing mechanism it hasn’t used in 23 years: issuance of less costly bonds paid back fully by ratepayers. Pay attention because a lot more requests for approval of bonds like these […]

FERC Opening Markets to Distributed Resources Not Cause for Celebration in California Yet

29 Sep

Distributed resources advocates across the country celebrated the 2-1 vote approving Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 2222 for opening capacity, energy, and ancillary service markets to aggregated distributed energy. They applauded FERC’s pomise to “usher in the electric grid of the future and promote competition in electric markets.” The celebration may have been premature, especially […]

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 […]

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