Legislature Approves New Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development

California is notorious for being in flames in what seems like an endless wildfire season. Factors including climate change and an increasing population in locations with flammable materials—like fuel and dry brush—all contribute to wildfires and the unpredictable damages they cause.

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Will California’s power grid withstand heatwaves this summer?

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) projects electricity supply for summer 2021 to be better than last year. Although a series of policy changes and redesigns of ISO’s system has occurred, along with improved communications and coordination protocols, the power grid is still prone to be overstressed during extreme heat waves—according to the ISO’s summer outlook released this month.

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Grants awarded to protect vulnerable communities from PSPS

The State of California is distributing $50 million in Community Power Resiliency grants aimed to protect local and vulnerable communities from the effects of utility-initiated power shutoffs. The grants will be distributed through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES).

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After California’s Costly Firestorms, A Wildfire Innovation Office Emerges

California’s 2020 wildfire season broke records. The state reported more than 9,600 wildfires that burned nearly 4.4 million acres, killed 31 people, destroyed 10,000-plus structures, and left Californians with more than $12 billion in damages. The increasing devastation, combined with last year’s losses, has spurred lawmakers to consider a new Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development for advanced fire prevention and suppression.

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Governor announces key energy agency appointments

Gov. Newsom made several appointments to key energy agencies this week.  Darcie Houck to the CPUC, Sivia Gunda to the California Energy Commission, and Mary Leslie and Jan Schiori to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) Board. Details of the announcement included: Darcie Houck, 51, of Davis, has been appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission. Houck has served as Chief Counsel for the California Energy Commission since 2019. She was an Administrative Law Judge at the California Public Utilities Commission from 2016 to 2019, a Partner at Fredericks Peebles & Morgan from 2005 to 2016 and Staff Counsel and [...]

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Will governor’s $1.5 billion zero-emission vehicle plan lose steam?

As part of his $227 billion 2021-22 budget, Gov. Newsom proposed nearly $1.5 billion to support his executive order to make all new vehicles zero-emission by 2035, but the plan faced criticism at its first budget hearing, with Republicans and Democrats saying not so fast.

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California approves $115 million for hydrogen fueling stations

The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a plan on December 9 that will invest up to $115 million to increase the number of fueling stations in California that support hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Up to 111 new hydrogen fueling stations will be built in the state by 2027 under the new plan.

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Appliance energy standards targeted in latest lawsuit against feds

A lawsuit was filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with a coalition of 15 attorney generals and New York City, on November 9 to challenge the Department of Energy’s (DoE) “failure to review and amend energy standards” for 25 product categories of consumer and industrial products. The product categories include refrigerators, heaters, air conditioners, electric motors, and more. The DoE has violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act by missing several mandatory deadlines for reviewing and updating the standards, according to the lawsuit. “For the better part of four years, the Trump Administration has utilized a playbook of [...]

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CAISO changes leadership structure

Beginning Monday, November 9, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) will reorganize its executive-level leadership structure with the hope of better management of the state's electricity grid. Under the Chief Operating Officer (COO), the restructuring will bring together several critical functions including market policy, planning, operations, technology, and program management, according to a news release. A new leadership team designed the structure to promote more efficient integration and coordination across these key functions.

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PG&E Warns 500,000 Customers of PSPS

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) warned late on Friday (10/23), that nearly half a million of its customers to lose power amid planned Public Power Safety Shutt-offs (PSPS) as early as Sunday.  If the PSPS takes place, this would be the 5th this year for utility and the third in consecutive weeks.  PG&E revealed further stated that this time the PSPS could place impact nearly half a million homes and businesses or roughly 1.5 million people in 38 counties across Northern and Central California. 

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Changes in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee Staff

While the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee’s makeup is bound to change after the election, Assemblyman Chris Holden recently announced staff. Laura Shybut, Senator Jerry Hill’s Chief of Staff, will become the new chief consultant to the committee.

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PG&E Says PSPS to Begin Today, Could Last 3 Days, 24 Counties Affected

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) updated its possible Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) alert this morning, stating that they continue to monitor a potentially strong and dry offshore wind event forecasted to start Wednesday evening.  Given the expected conditions, PG&E began its one-day advance notifications to customers in areas where PG&E may need to proactively turn power off for safety to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines.

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PG&E Warns of 3rd PSPS Event of the Year for Northern California

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) today issued a press release warning its customers that the third Public Power Safety Shutoff (PSPS) of the year may be called this week, as a result of a forecast of high winds and dry conditions coupled with temperatures reaching the mid 90’s.  PG&E stressed that the most difficult period this week could be Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning.  However, PG&E also stated that a second event may materialize on Thursday afternoon and could last through Friday. PSPS events are designed to reduce the threat of wildfires that could be caused by high winds and [...]

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CAISO, CPUC, CEC Issue Preliminary Report on Blackouts

The Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee will be holding an oversight hearing with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and California Energy Commission (CEC) aimed at reviewing a report on the rolling blackouts triggered in August. The Preliminary Root Cause Analysis 121 page report issued by the three energy agencies today offered the following three key findings.

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