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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 […]

Newsom Proposes $2.5B for Electric Transportation & Fire Mitigation

11 Jan

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2021-22 budget proposes spending more than $1.5 billion to accelerate electric and other non-fossil fueled vehicles and charging stations, particularly in polluted poor communities. He also plans to direct another $1 billion to reduce wildfire risks in high threat areas—forests and communities.  Newsom’s proposal released Jan. 8 highlights significant exacerbation of climate […]

The Buzz

17 Dec

Federal energy regulators shoot down a proposed order requiring the grid operator to prove the August outages were not caused by its unreasonable tariff. Two of the three voting Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members reject interfering with the California Independent System Operator’s work with state energy agencies to fill grid reliability gaps. The California Public […]

The Buzz

3 Dec

The Diablo nuclear power plant’s Unit 2 shuts down just two days after it goes back online over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The $100 million rebuild of the electric generator part malfunctions for a third time. A watchdog wants to know the cause, who is on the hook for the repair and whether there will […]

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 […]

Air Regulators Fight Diesel Generators but Energy Commission Barely Budges

17 Nov

The need for reliable power clashed with the need for breathable air for nearly five hours at the California Energy Commission on Monday. Companies with data centers again pushed to be allowed to install hundreds of megawatts of new backup generation that runs on diesel fuel. The possibility of this much additional pollution in California […]

San Francisco, San Jose Ban Gas in New Buildings

12 Nov

Natural gas use in new homes and commercial buildings will be banned in the City of San Francisco starting next June. Passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on a preliminary vote this week, the prohibition will be formally approved Nov. 17. Last fall, the San Jose City Council voted unanimously to require all new […]

PG&E’s $7.5B Ratepayer Bond Would Assume Shareholder Debt

10 Nov

Pacific Gas & Electric is seeking regulatory permission to shift $7.5 billion of its 2017 wildfire costs from shareholders to ratepayers. Ratepayer advocate groups, both large and small, strenuously object on grounds it places an inordinate financial risk on utility customers while providing them little or no benefit. “It is morally reprehensible,” April Rose Maurath […]

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, […]

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 […]

The Buzz

30 Oct

Two California private utility parents report third quarter earnings, one bearing good news and the other far from rosy. Pacific Gas & Electric gets a post-bankruptcy bounce. Edison International goes the opposite direction. SoCalGas gets slammed for its climate damaging activities, from undermining home electrification to suing the state for its clean trucks rule. Sen. […]

SCE May Have Sparked Orange County Blaze

27 Oct

Updated Oct. 30 During the most dangerous fire conditions to hit much of the state this year, Southern California Edison has revealed its equipment could have started the Silverado Fire in Orange County early Monday morning. The fire spread to more than 13,400 acres by early Friday, and was 63% contained. The utility’s Oct. 26 […]

Energy Commission Funds Push for Clean Backup Generation

27 Oct

Repeated wildfires and power shutoffs are driving sales of backup generators at homes, businesses, hospitals, and community centers across northern California. Diesel generators are flying off the shelves. But the desperation also is strengthening the push for clean systems that can island from the grid, also store power, and potentially hasten the commercialization of more […]

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 […]

Fact Checking Trump’s and Biden’s Energy Transition Plans

26 Oct

In the presidential candidates’ final debate, President Trump said Vice President Biden’s energy plan could cost tens of millions of jobs. Wind is “extremely expensive” and solar “doesn’t quite have it yet,” he added. Trump avoided answering a question about the health impacts of polluting industries. There is “a moral obligation” to address the climate […]

The Buzz

23 Oct

State utility regulators allow Pacific Gas & Electric to fold $447 million into rates to recoup part of its wildfire tab. Whether these incurred costs linked to different accounts are reasonable will be determined later. Also this week, a majority of the California Public Utilities Commission refuses to back a penalty program aimed at stopping […]

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 […]

No Enforcement Yet Against Solar Swindlers

22 Oct

A proposed penalty program aimed at predatory solar contractors and shoddy solar installations, particularly in poor communities with members who have no or little ability to communicate in English, was nearly shot down on a 3-2 vote by the California Public Utilities Commission. Commissioner Guzman Aceves who proposed the punishments was visibly upset by the […]

News Roundup: Diablo Goes Down during Flex Alert

15 Oct

Updated Oct. 16 Temperatures at the Southern California coast and in parts of northern California are projected to be 15-25 degrees above normal and the state grid operator has called for residents and businesses to conserve electricity. Making matters worse is that the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and its 2,200 megawatts of power went offline. […]

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