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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 […]

PG&E Sparked Last Fall’s Kincaid Fire, CalFire Finds

16 Jul

Following an investigation, Cal-Fire concluded July 16 that Pacific Gas & Electric was responsible for starting the Kincaid Fire near Geyserville, in Sonoma County, last October. The fire began Oct. 23 and burned until Nov. 6, destroying 374 structures and scorching nearly 78,000 acres. The announcement comes less than a month after PG&E emerged from […]

A 21st Century Distribution System Will Provide Economic Recovery

15 Jul

In response to the Covid-19 economic downturn, energy sector stakeholders are calling for a national transmission system and grid modernization but California should take a state-centric approach. “Local level economic recovery can come from distribution system modernization,” V. John White, Center for energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies executive director, told Current. The benefit of investments […]

Shorts

14 Jul

More than one third of California’s electricity last year was fueled by solar, wind and other qualifying renewables under the state’s clean energy mandate. According to the California Energy Commission, 36% of retail electric sales were supplied by renewable resources, exceeding the 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard’s 2020 mandate. “As we move to 100% clean electricity […]

Newsom Beefs Up Fire Fighting Budget, Adds Social Distancing Plan

9 Jul

As summer temperatures increase, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the addition of 858 fire fighters in CaFire ranks and six new California Conservation crews. Safety protocols to avoid the spread of Covid-19 will be in place for firefighters and those evacuated. “Even in a challenging budget climate, we have undertaken major action and made significant investments […]

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,” […]

PG&E Has $17B on Hand for Fire Victims & Cities

1 Jul

Updated July 2 Pacific Gas & Electric announced July 1 it funded much of the cash portion of its $13.5 billion settlement with victims of wildfires from 2015-18, as well as the Oakland Ghost Ship warehouse fire. PG&E funded the victim trust with $5.4 billion in cash. It will receive a further $650 million cash […]

CA Budget Seeds PG&E Alternative

1 Jul

There is a clue in the new budget agreed to by lawmakers and the governor that they are serious about taking over PG&E and turning it into a non-profit utility. The budget contains a provision for a $50 million loan to the new entity under the newly enacted SB 350. That law says PG&E would […]

Bill Creating a Public Gas & Electric Becomes Law

30 Jun

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law June 30 legislation creating a state takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric if it is unable to complete its $58 billion in post bankruptcy financing by Sept. 30. If poorly maintained utility equipment causes another fire or disaster that also would trigger the takeover under SB 350 by Sen. […]

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 […]

The Buzz

11 Jun

After months of few energy items on the California Public Utilities Commission business meeting agendas, this week’s one is dense, and action packed. After honoring the death of George Floyd, the five utility regulators approve Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to install diesel-fueled generators to provide power during safety outages. The CPUC also signs off […]

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 […]

PG&E Takeover Bill Passes Key Assembly Vote

9 Jun

Updated June 10 Legislation to allow California to seize Pacific Gas & Electric’s electric and gas infrastructure if the company fails to finance its $58 billion reorganization plan by the end of September or starts another large fire passed the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee on a 12-2 vote. “It is a bill I hope […]

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 […]

JUICE: Small is Beautiful

2 Jun

As appalling as Pacific Gas & Electric’s track record of safety deficiencies has been over the years—from sparking massive wildfires to gas pipeline blowouts—turning it into a centralized public utility could be worse. It could create one big albatross hanging on Californians’ collective neck.   The high stakes matter is riddled with financial, legal, and […]

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 […]