Archive: February 5, 2014

1
Farm Bill Includes Energy Title
2
Imperial Irrigation District Energy Storage RFQ
3
Collision of Cost of Safety and the Cost of Energy

Farm Bill Includes Energy Title

After years of negotiations, the United States House and Senate have passed a comprehensive Farm Bill which will be signed into law by President Obama on February 7 at Michigan State University, the alma mater of Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). On February 4, the Senate voted 68-32 to approve the five-year authorization bill, formally titled the Agriculture Act of 2014. The House passed the legislation last week.

While the bill predictably includes provisions which impact farm programs and also authorizes nutrition programs, in addition, it includes an Energy Title which provides support to many feedstock growers as well as traditional farmers who improve the energy efficiency of their operations.

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Imperial Irrigation District Energy Storage RFQ

The Imperial Irrigation District (IID), the third-largest public power utility in California, recently issued QR 123, the first step in a solicitation for 20 megawatts to 40 megawatts of “battery” storage. The solicitation seeks storage that can accommodate a very broad range of specified operational characteristics, and it may prove challenging for any given storage technology to meet all of those characteristics. The solicitation’s reference to “battery” storage implies that IID is not seeking flywheels or other energy storage technologies.

At this stage, QR 123 is in the nature of a request for vendors to supply their qualifications to “design, engineer, procure and construct a utility-scale energy storage project” that will have the desired operational characteristics. Responses are due February 11, 2014.

Information about QR 123 can be found here.

 

Collision of Cost of Safety and the Cost of Energy

Last December, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) filed its cost of service and rate application for gas transportation and storage. This application was filed in the context of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) being under enormous pressure to increase its safety oversight of utilities, a $14.4 million fine imposed on PG&E for failing to notify regulators about incorrect records on a natural gas pipeline and a looming $2.2 billion fine for the 2010 San Bruno explosion. In this context, it is understandable that PG&E would be very sensitive to safety concerns and would seek to make capital expenditures to improve the safety of its gas transportation system. The catch, of course, is that when a utility spends money, rates go up. For PG&E, this is complicated even further by the risk that a $2.2 billion fine could increase PG&E’s cost of raising money to pay for the capital upgrades it wants to make. When rates go up, large consumers pay attention; and when rates go up a lot, everyone pays attention.

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