On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (“the Court”) issued a decision in Winding Creek Solar LLC v. Peevey (“Winding Creek decision”), finding that the California Public Utilities Commission’s (“CPUC”) Renewable Market-Adjusting Tariff (“Re-MAT”) program violated the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”). The Court also found that the CPUC’s “Standard Contract” for generators less than 20 MW failed to comply with PURPA, throwing into question the effectiveness and pricing associated with a significant amount of renewable energy generation currently under contract.
In late August 2014, the California Assembly and Senate unanimously voted in favor of Senate Bill 1414 (“SB 1414”), which was introduced by Senator Lois Wolk and co-authored by Assembly Members, Kevin Mullin and Das Williams. On September 29, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1414 into law. SB 1414 requires utilities to adjust their resource adequacy plans and utilize cost-effective demand response (“DR”) programs to change their demand for electricity during key times. In exchange for adjusting their electricity consumption, participating DR customers will receive incentives for providing a clean resource to the grid. The reduced demand for electricity will require less generation, which in turn will reduce the need for new power plants and help integrate renewable sources of energy. Read More
There’s a busy week ahead for those who are involved in energy storage on the US West Coast.
In California, the three investor owned utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric) have now applied to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for review and approval of their energy storage procurement plans. The plans explain how each IOU intends to procure by 2020 its share of the 1,325 MW energy storage target set by the CPUC in D. 13-10-040. The CPUC will be holding a workshop to provide information on the applications from 10am to 4pm on Friday, March 14, 2014, at the CPUC’s auditorium at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. There is also a call in number for the workshop: 866-830-4003, Participant passcode: 9869619.
A little to the north of California, energy storage is becoming a focus of attention in Oregon. Renewables Northwest will be holding its Second Energy Storage Meeting in K&L Gates’ Portland Office, 1 SW Columbia St, 19th Floor, from 10am to Noon on Thursday, March 13. The meeting will help interested parties prepare for an energy storage workshop organized by the Oregon Department of Energy and the Oregon Public Utility Commission, which will be held from 8am to 4:30pm on Wednesday, March 19 at the White Stag Building, 70 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209. You can register for the workshop here.
Still further north, K&L Gates will be sponsoring a Washington Clean Technology Alliance meeting on Progress and Promise in U.S. Grid Energy Storage, Including Washington State, featuring special presentations by Dr. Imre Gyuk, U.S. Department of Energy, and Richard Locke, Washington State Department of Commerce. This event will be held on March 20, 2014 from 4:00 to 6:30 pm at K&L Gates’ offices in Seattle, 925 4th Ave, Suite 2900. Advanced tickets are required, and they’ll be on sale through March 16. You can obtain tickets for the event here.
K&L Gates attorneys will be attending each of these events, and we look forward to seeing you there!
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.