Weekly Energy Digest for April 10, 2020

by | Apr 10, 2020

A few energy-related news stories and commentaries we’ve been reading this week …

California

PG&E Customers Getting a Credit on their April Bill, but it’s Not Extra

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. forwarded to some customers an email from the California Public Utilities Commission saying their April bill will include a credit that “may help offset energy costs from higher usage as Californians have stayed at home during the recent month in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” (San Francisco Chronicle, April 9)

Cow Poop Could Fuel California’s Clean Energy Future. But Not Everyone’s on Board

At this dairy farm outside the San Joaquin Valley town of Pixley, Schlyer’s company turns cow droppings into energy. Left untouched, the decomposing manure might otherwise spend months sitting in open lagoons, getting broken down by bacteria in a reaction that produces methane gas, a powerful planet-warming pollutant. (Los Angeles Times, April 9)

Del Mar to Reconsider Clean Energy Alliance

Del Mar may end its participation in several long-planned programs or projects, including the recently certified three-city Clean Energy Alliance, in the fiscal year beginning July 1 because of economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. (San Diego Union-Tribune, April 9)

PG&E Bankruptcy Judge Won’t Approve Attempt to Halt Fire Victim Votes

The judge presiding over the massive PG&E Corp. bankruptcy on Tuesday declined to sanction an attempt to halt wildfire victims’ voting on the company’s restructuring plan, a setback for a group of lawyers that has tried to force changes to a crucial $13.5 billion settlement deal. (San Francisco Chronicle, April 8)

California Issues First New Fracking Permits Since July 

California issued 24 hydraulic fracturing permits on Friday, authorizing the first new oil wells in the state since July of last year and angering environmental groups who have been pressuring the state to ban the procedure known as fracking. (Associated Press, April 4)

Another Member of Fire Panel Resigns, Criticizes PG&E Plan

Karin Gowins, the former comptroller for Paradise, told The Associated Press Friday that she resigned from the bankruptcy committee overseeing the claims of wildfire victims so she can publicly lambaste what she believes is a deeply flawed, $13.5 billion settlement with PG&E. (Associated Press , April 4)

PG&E Plan Has Broad Support From Fire Victims, Lawyers Say

Lawyers for more than half the wildfire victims who negotiated a $13.5 billion settlement with PG&E Corp. say their clients plan to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the bankrupt utility’s reorganization plan. (Bloomberg, April 3)

 

Nation/World

Saudis, Russians Bury Differences, but Mexico Threatens Oil Deal

Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed in principle Thursday to lead a 23-nation coalition in massive oil-production cuts after a monthlong feud and a drop in demand due to the coronavirus crisis devastated oil prices. But following more than 11 hours of negotiations, Mexico abruptly exited the talks, jeopardizing a final pact. (Wall Street Journal, April 9)

7 Transmission Projects That Could Unlock a Renewable Energy Bounty

Big U.S. transmission projects linked to renewables have a poor track record. But the stakes — and potential payoff — are high, so developers charge onward. (Green Tech Media, April 9)

The Policy and Politics of the COVID-19 Oil Market Crash

Two energy economists discuss supply, collusion, jobs, and the impact on gasoline prices… this week’s blog post is a podcast.  Last Wednesday, I sat down (from a safe 2000 mile distance) with University of Chicago Professor (and Energy Institute alum) Ryan Kellogg to talk about how the sudden downturn in oil demand is affecting oil policy and politics in the U.S. (Energy Institute at Haas, April 6)

Coronavirus Crisis Prompts Martinez Refinery to Cut Back, Sell Hydrogen Plants

The sale comes as PBF and other oil companies scramble to cut costs and raise revenue as shelter-at-home orders imposed around the United States have drastically reduced travel and slashed demand for gasoline and other fuels. (KQED, April 7)

Pandemic Slows Driving, Drops Gas Prices and Swells Inventories. How Many Refineries Will Shut Down?

Numbers just released by the federal agency in charge of collecting and analyzing energy data confirms how much the spread of the coronavirus has affected driving habits of Americans and, by extension, what it has done to the sheer volume and price of gasoline in the space of just a couple of weeks. (San Diego Union-Tribune, April 3)
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