Impacts of COVID-19 Virus on Electricity Demand

LCG, March 27, 2020 -- Jeremy Platt, an energy scientist, Palo Alto has made some early analysis of impact of COVID -19 on electricity demand using the grid operators data published by LCG. Data from several areas of the country offer early and near real-time views of impacts of the economic slowdown due to evolving regional and statewide coronavirus mitigation strategies.

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California PUC Targets Doubling Renewable Energy by 2030

LCG, March 27, 2020--The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) yesterday unanimously approved a new emissions target for its electric sector that would double California's clean energy capacity through 2030 and effectively block new natural gas-fired electric generating facilities.

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Industry News

California Capsule: Bush Disappoints Davis

LCG, May 30, 2001President Bush met with California Gov. Gray Davis for slightly more than a half-hour yesterday in a Century City hotel room in what was described as a cordial, businesslike session, but failed to give the governor what he wanted.

"He just listened and said he was against price caps," Davis said afterwards.

Davis, for his part, left his waterfront rhetoric in Sacramento, instead praising Bush for calling for a faster federal permitting process for new power plants. Bush told Davis that his administration would look into questions surrounding the high price of natural gas in California, which Davis also praised.

In the end, Davis said "We have an agreement to disagree, but it's a big disagreement." Andrew H. Card Jr., Bush's chief of staff, conceded the point, but added that there were more areas of agreement than disagreement.

Card said the meeting with Davis "was a very, very friendly and constructive conversation." He added that Bush told Davis that he had asked Pat Wood, newly appointed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to visit with the governor to further explore a way out of California's energy problems.

Davis, who places much of the blame for the energy crunch on FERC, said he would sue the federal agency to force it to impose "just and reasonable" wholesale rates on power producers, and would "pursue every course possible" including pressing his case in Congress, where defection of a Republican senators has changed the balance of power in the upper chamber.

Bush said placing the blame wouldn't solve the problem. "For too long, too often, too many have wasted energy, pointing fingers and laying blame. Energy is a problem that requires action, not politics, not excuses but action. Blame-shifting is not action, it's a distraction."

Bush said his administration would be guided by a test: "Will any action increase supply at fair and reasonable prices? Will it decrease demand in equitable ways? Anything that meets that test will alleviate the shortage, and we will move swiftly to adopt it."

Appeals Court Won't Order Price Caps
Even before President Bush turned down Gov. Davis' plea for federal electricity price caps, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a suit brought by state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton and state Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, both Democrats, asking the court to force FERC to impose controls on wholesale electricity prices in California.

In its order, the court said the matter does not warrant the "intervention of this court."

In their suit, Burton and Hertzberg told the court "The citizens of California are suffering immediate irreparable harm as a result of FERC's abrogation of its duty to establish just and reasonable rates over electricity."

The two lawmakers said they would consult with their lawyers before deciding whether to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Farm Town Won't Go Along with Blackouts
Four times since early March, blackouts have rolled across Northern California, but they rolled right past the town of Lodi, a farming community with an ancient municipal utility that has kept the lights on while they blinked out elsewhere.

An Lodi intends to keep the light and air conditioners on during any blackouts California suffers through this summer.

Lodi, which is 30 miles down State 99 from Sacramento, is the tokay capital the place where more tokay grapes are grown than anywhere and is pretty independent. The town's municipal utility dates to the late 19th Century, when Ed and Frank Carey formed a water and power company they sold to the city in 1910 for $35,000.

AB 1890, the legislation that in 1996 restructured California's electric industry into its present mess, exempted municipal utilities, and Lodi figures it ought to be exempt from the results of the measure. Steve Marin, a former city councilman, said "It doesn't make sense that we should participate in blackouts when we have done everything we can to make sure we can avoid that."

So far, Lodi is the only municipal utility among the 30 or so in California that has baldly refused to turn out the lights when called upon to do so, but others are paying attention. This week, Riverside, a city five times the size of Lodi, said it might pass when asked to turn off the power. This is a snowball that could grow.

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