California COVID-19 Update – June 29

The following statistics were gathered from various government websites: State-wide—215,375 confirmed cases, 5,933 deaths (+35 from yesterday-State-wide).         The greater Los Angeles area has 97,894 cases and 3,305 deaths (+20 from yesterday). The Bay Area has 23,738 cases and 568 deaths (+5 from yesterday).   Confirmed cases in 55/58 counties (3 counties have reported no cases). Counties re-opening 51 of 58 (those counties are moving to Phase 3 of 4 as defined by Newsom Administration). Cities, including in the greater Los Angeles Area and several in the San Francisco Bay Area, moving slowly toward Stage 3. Because [...]

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Budget Update: Legislature Restores CalGEM Enforcement Positions

In last week's final budget, the Legislature restored key cuts for the Department of Conservation's Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) division, which regulates the drilling, operation, and permanent closure of energy resource wells.  CalGEM will now receive 25 positions costing $7.2 million.

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SCE Says Nearly 50% of Electricity Delivered to Customers is Carbon Neutral

Announcing the release of its 2019 Sustainability Report on June 8, Edison International stated that 48% of the electricity delivered to 15 million customers last year by Southern California Edison, its largest subsidiary, came from carbon-free sources.

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Commission Says PG&E ‘Making Progress’ but Questions Remain

Testifying at the Senate Energy Committee Oversight Hearing on June 4, California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) staff said that PG&E is improving resiliency ahead of wildfire season, albeit with big unknowns. CPUC Deputy Executive Director Rachel Patterson told the Committee that PG&E is "making progress towards readiness, with some major ifs. The very biggest question will be whether the company can bring all of their lines of effort together into smart and competent execution this year." CPUC staff said that PG&E has already exceeded its target for installed transmission switches, which enable electricity to be remotely rerouted around faulty lines [...]

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Board Chair in Hot Water over Tweet

California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols found herself in an uncomfortable position for a tweet that referenced George Floyd's last words in a rallying cry for environmental justice. https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/ Nichols tweeted:  “I can’t breathe' speaks to police violence, but it also applies to the struggle for clean air. Environmental racism is just one form of racism. It’s all toxic. Government needs to clean it up in word and deed. We who do climate and environmental policy can and must do more.” Her tweet, which resulted in more than 140 likes as of Monday night, also received a [...]

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Commission Approves Utility Bankruptcy Plan

On May 28, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved PG&E’s bankruptcy exit plan, the penultimate milestone for the company before it can close its Chapter 11 case ahead of the State's June 30 deadline. CPUC framed their unanimous decision as a protection of PG&E customers, wildfire victims, and clean energy goals. However, they also acknowledged the uncertainty that lies ahead as regulators and lawmakers alike prepare for the possibility of a state takeover of PG&E if the company doesn't exit bankruptcy on time or commits certain safety violations. “PG&E has consistently failed to demonstrate that it adequately understands the [...]

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Consumer Watchdog: ‘No More Oil Wells!’

On May 20, Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of taxpayers and consumers, transmitted a letter to Governor Newsom requesting he issue an order that no new oil wells be approved without full bonding for their clean-up, as well as a requirement to plug a certain number of idle wells in exchange for a new permit. 

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Feinstein Supports Commission on Resilience Projects

In a letter to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Marybel Batjer on May 7, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) called on CPUC to continue expedited deployment of electric grid resilience projects across California during preparation for the upcoming wildfire season and the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. 

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Commission ALJ Recommends PG&E Bankruptcy Approval

On April 20, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Peter Allen issued a 117-page document endorsing PG&E’s new governance structure, which includes a regional restructuring that aims to establish more responsive operations after years of catastrophic wildfires and last fall's public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events. Allen’s action is another step toward ensuring PG&E can close its Chapter 11 case by the June 30 deadline mandated by AB 1054. 

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Bankruptcy Court Approves PG&E Settlement, Dismisses Last Minute Objections Regarding COVID-19

On April 7, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali rejected an attempt by wildfire victims' attorneys to notify clients that their $13.5 billion settlement with PG&E could be devalued by a stock market impacted by COVID-19.

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