California Public Utilities Commission

Resolving Interconnection Disputes to Speed Clean Technology Deployment

New California agency dispute resolution process in need of expert panelists

When a homeowner or business wants to install clean technology like renewable electricity generation or energy storage either for on-site usage or as a grid service, they occasionally run into problems obtaining approvals from the local electric utility to connect that resource to the electrical grid. The owner must enter into an interconnection agreement with …

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To Be or Not to Be an Energy Utility

Questioning the continued existence of California’s largest energy utility

What can we do to ensure the safety of the massive electric and natural gas delivery systems that we rely on every day? Eight years after the horrific explosion and fire stemming from one of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E’s) natural gas pipelines in San Bruno, California, the state’s legislators and utility regulators …

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Guest Bloggers Jennifer Garlock and Michelle Melton: California Enacts Law to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ride-Hailing Companies

Governor Brown Signs SB 1014, Allowing Innovative Approaches to Emissions Reduction

As part of its broader efforts to tackle climate change, California has set its sights on a new, and fast-growing, source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. On September 13, Governor Brown signed SB 1014, making California the first U.S. jurisdiction to require that ride-hailing companies—also known as transportation network …

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The End-game for Diablo Canyon?

A landmark agreement supports the closure of a controversial nuclear plant.

Today’s announcement that the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has reached an agreement with several environmental and labor groups to plan for the eventual shutdown of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is a stunning development, when viewed in an historical perspective. PG&E has agreed not to seek new licenses for its power plant that …

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How to Erode Public Confidence in Regulatory Decisions: Meet With Parties Behind Closed Doors

A scandal at the California Public Utilities Commissions brings a questionable practice to light.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has an unusual way of doing business. Most state and federal regulatory agencies prohibit private, closed-door discussions with interested parties about contested matters (ex parte communications). Even though it makes decisions affecting the welfare of Californians and the disposition of billions of dollars, the CPUC does not discourage ex …

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California’s Flawed Approach to Electric Vehicle Public Charging

Legal settlement to commit $100 million to new charging stations has not been effective

Back in 2000, rolling blackouts descended upon California and eventually cost Governor Gray Davis his job.  The crisis was caused by deviant corporate behavior, and one of the companies involved, NRG, finally settled with the state in 2012 for damages related to its conduct.  But instead of being punished, the California Public Utilities Commission allowed …

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With Utility Power Purchases, Does the Environment Matter?

When does the approval of a contract trigger environmental review?

If an electric utility asks regulators to approve a contract to purchase power from someone else’s power plant, should the regulators consider the environmental implications before saying yes or no? Of course they should. But let me ask the question again, using a bit of California legalese: Does a decision by the California Public Utilities …

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California Poised to Take a Major Step Forward on Energy Storage

Energy storage isn’t called the “Holy Grail” for nothing. Without it, we simply cannot meet our long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals. To decarbonize the energy supply, intermittent renewable energy from the sun and wind must be stored for later dispatch when those resources aren’t available. We’ve covered this subject extensively here and here. Now California …

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The San Bruno Explosion and the Public Trust

Do you remember the horrific Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, that killed eight people and burned down dozens of homes? Two years later, there are still several proceedings pending before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to figure out who should bear costs resulting from the …

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When gas pipelines explode, who is at fault?

It is almost a year since a natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California killed 8 people and destroyed 38 homes, and the National Transportation Safety Board has now issued it report.  The Board found that pipeline owner Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), as well as state and federal regulators, were responsible for …

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