Weekly Energy Digest for April 3, 2020

By Published On: April 3, 2020

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


PG&E Fire Victims Seek Changes to Settlement After Coronavirus Selloff

Lawyers for victims of California wildfires sparked by PG&E Corp. are demanding modifications to their $13.5 billion settlement with the company because of concerns that the deal may no longer deliver the expected amount. (San Francisco Chronicle, April 3)

Your PG&E bill will be up to $63 cheaper in April

In a nice bit of timing, your PG&E bill could be up to $63 cheaper in the next billing cycle. PG&E is issuing one of its twice-annual California Climate Credits, a state government program that provides discounts in April and October for residential and small business customers. (San Francisco Chronicle, April 2)

Garcetti Authorizes Shutting Off Utilities to Nonessential Businesses Violating Safer at Home

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that he’s authorized the Department of Water and Power to shut off service to nonessential businesses that continue to operate despite the strict Safer at Home restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Los Angeles Times, April 2)

Levin Raises Questions About San Onofre Nuclear Waste Transfers, Sewage spill

Rep. Mike Levin, who made his concerns about nuclear waste at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station a prong in his successful 2018 congressional campaign, has sent a letter to the CEO of the parent company of the utility that operates the plant posing questions about two separate events disclosed last week. (San Diego Union-Tribune, April 1)

7,000 gallons of sewage from San Onofre nuclear plant spills a mile into the ocean 

Officials at Southern California Edison, the plant’s operator, said the sewage amounted to a “non-radiological release” that entered the ocean through a conduit from Unit 2 at the facility, also known as SONGS. The plant has not produced electricity since 2012. (San Diego Union-Tribune, March 28)

Sempra Executive Abruptly Quits, Receives Severance Package Worth About $6.9 Million

A top executive at San Diego-based Sempra Energy has suddenly resigned after less than one year with the company and, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, will receive a severance package that comes to about $6.9 million that includes cash payments and shares of Sempra stock. (San Diego Union-Tribune, April 1)

Largest US Dam Removal Stirs Debate over Coveted West Water 

Now, plans to demolish four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath’s lower reaches — the largest such demolition project in U.S. history — have placed those competing interests in stark relief. Tribes, farmers, homeowners and conservationists all have a stake in the dams’ fate. (Associated Press, March 30)

PG&E CEO Earned $18.5 Million on Paper. He Can’t Use Most of it

PG&E Corp. CEO Bill Johnson earned $18.5 million last year, but only on paper. Most of his total 2019 compensation is effectively worthless for now, a new regulatory filing shows. (San Francisco Chronicle, April 1)

PG&E Thought it Had a Deal with California Wildfire Victims. Then Came the Coronavirus

Like a lot of Paradise residents who lost their homes in the Camp Fire, Michael Zuccolillo is furious at PG&E Corp. and isn’t thrilled about the utility’s plan for paying wildfire victims to get out of bankruptcy. But in a world suddenly consumed with economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, he isn’t sure he and his fellow wildfire victims can afford to walk away from PG&E’s most recent offer. (Sacramento Bee, April 1)

PG&E Says Camp Fire Criminal Fine Won’t be Paid with Victims’ Fund

PG&E Corp. said Monday that it no longer plans to pay $4 million related to the 2018 Camp Fire criminal case from a $13.5 billion trust intended to compensate individual fire victims. Instead, the cost will be borne by insurance companies who are party to a separate $11 billion settlement in PG&E’s bankruptcy case, the company said in a statement. (San Francisco Chronicle, March 31)

PG&E, a ‘Killer Company,’ Admits to 85 Felony Counts. Now What?

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. tried to avoid the stain of a criminal conviction over its geriatric power line that sparked California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire. (San Francisco Chronicle, March 30)

Coastal Gas Plant Will Shut Down by 2023 as Fossil Fuels Dry up in California

The long-awaited sale of 51 acres of prime waterfront real estate in Redondo Beach has been finalized — and it includes a commitment to shutting down the site’s gas-fired power plant, in the latest sign of California’s transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels. (Los Angeles Times, March 30)

Commentary: PG&E makes two deals to survive

In any other week, major actions affecting Pacific Gas and Electric’s chances of emerging from bankruptcy as an intact and operational utility would have been big news. (Calmatters, March 30)

Commentary: Can We Stop Paying Utility Bills for a Bit?

Here’s what I have in mind: regulators should enact a temporary utility bill moratorium. This could provide some much needed liquidity as we hunker down and try to ride out the coronavirus. (Energy Institute at Haas,  March 29)



Trump to Meet With Oil CEOs About Helping Industry

President Trump is set to meet Friday with the heads of some of the largest U.S. oil companies to discuss measures to help the industry weather an unprecedented oil crash, people familiar with the matter said. (Wall Street Journal, April 1)

Goldman on how the ‘largest economic shock of our lifetimes’ will permanently alter energy markets

The coronavirus pandemic will likely be a “game-changer” for energy markets, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs, with carbon-based industries such as oil thought to be sitting “in the cross-hairs.” (CNBC, March 30)

Whiting Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as Oil Prices Hover at $20

Shale producer Whiting Petroleum Corp said on Wednesday it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the first major casualty of a free fall in crude prices to $20 a barrel. (Reuters, April 1)

Whiting Bosses Got $14.6 Million Bonuses Before Bankruptcy

Whiting Petroleum Corp.’s board approved $14.6 million in cash bonuses for top executives days before the shale oil producer filed for bankruptcy. ( Bloomberg News, April 1)

Oil Companies on Tumbling Prices: ‘Disastrous, Devastating’

The use of gasoline and other fuels is dropping as Saudi Arabia and Russia increase production, sending oil prices to their lowest level in a generation. (New York Times, March 31)

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