PUC Approves 4 PG&E Storage Contracts
The Public Utilities Commission last week approved four energy storage contracts that PG&E Corp. submitted as part of the commission’s order to replace the power its gets from three natural gas-fired plants owned by Calpine.
The four battery projects include a 183-MW facility south of San Jose that will be designed and built by Tesla; a 300-MW project by Vistra Energy; a 75-MW project by Hummingbird Energy Storage; and 10 MW worth of capacity from Micronoc.
Calpine’s Metcalf, Yuba City and Feather River power plants are under reliability-must-run agreements with CAISO, which the PUC opposed. (See CPUC Retires Diablo Canyon, Replaces Calpine RMRs.)
Muni Co-op Officials Indicted in Federal Court over Misuse of Funds
A federal grand jury in New Haven last week handed down indictments of five Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative officials, charging them with conspiracy and theft.
The officials include the cooperative’s CEO, CFO and three members of its board of directors. The charges stem from the use of more than $9 million the co-op received in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for extravagant trips outside the state.
The co-op’s member agreement calls for any excess revenues to be returned to ratepayers. “Instead of protecting these funds … these defendants are alleged to have used the CMEEC Margin Account as a secret slush fund to pay for lavish junkets for themselves and their family and friends, as well as for other inappropriate expenses,” U.S. Attorney John Durham said.
More: New Haven Register
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Bowser Nominates Gillis to PSC
As part of an administration shuffle after her successful re-election bid, Mayor Muriel Bowser last week nominated Greer Gillis, director of the district’s Department of General Services, to the Public Service Commission.
Bowser also appointed Commissioner Willie Phillips as chair to replace Betty Ann Kane, whose term ends at the end of the year.
Gillis has been head of DGS for two years. Prior to that, she served as deputy director of the District Department of Transportation.
More: Washington City Paper
Court Stays Idaho Power Lawsuit Against EPA
A U.S. District Court judge last week agreed to stay a lawsuit brought by Idaho Power against EPA for neglecting to review water temperature standards submitted by the Department of Environmental Quality for the Snake River below Idaho Power’s Hells Canyon Complex hydropower facility.
The state’s request to EPA act on the standards dates back to 2012. The judge gave EPA until March 11 and must submit status reports on its work every 30 days.
“Essentially, this is what we wanted for six years,” an Idaho Power spokesman said. “We’re optimistic things are moving in the right direction. This is definitely a good step forward.”
More: The Associated Press
DEP: New England Clean Energy Connect App Incomplete
The Department of Environmental Protection last week told Central Maine Power that its application to build the New England Clean Energy Connect transmission project is incomplete.
CMP must respond by Nov. 19 with a schedule for how it plans to submit the department’s requested information. The move by the DEP follows similar action by the Public Utilities Commission late last month. (See Maine PUC Move Poses Hurdle for NECEC.)
More: Portland Press Herald
Trial for State’s Suit Against Entergy Delayed
A U.S. District Court judge last week postponed the start of the trial in the state’s lawsuit against Entergy Mississippi for allegedly selling overpriced power to customers from 1998 to 2009.
Judge Carlton Reeves delayed the trial to April, saying that by law he needs to attend to criminal cases first.
Attorney General Jim Hood says Entergy owes $1 billion in overcharges to ratepayers.
More: The Associated Press
Clean Energy Advocates Oust 2 OPPD Board Incumbents
Voters last week elected two new members to Omaha Public Power District’s board of directors, defeating incumbents Tom Barrett and former State Sen. Mick Mines.
Eric Williams and Janece Mollhoff campaigned on supporting clean energy policies and were elected to six-year terms. A third election is still too close to call and is undergoing a recount as of press time.
More: Energy News Network
States Issues Offshore Wind Solicitation
The state last week issued a solicitation for at least 800 MW of new offshore wind projects, part of its goal to procure 2,400 MW by 2030.
Bids are due in February, and winners will be announced the following spring, the state said. Each bidder must submit at least one project that is at least 400 MW, but the state will award 25-year contracts for projects as low as 200 MW.
“This action is a watershed moment in New York’s renewable energy development efforts as we work to establish a secure, reliable and cost-effective clean energy future,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
More: Gov. Andrew Cuomo
FirstEnergy Agrees to Rate Cut — if it Can Raise Rates
FirstEnergy last week filed a settlement with the Public Utilities Commission in which it agreed to cut rates to reflect the new federal corporate tax rate under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — as long as the commission approves a massive upgrade to its distribution system.
Under the settlement, signed by PUCO staff, FirstEnergy customers would see an average decrease of $3.90 on their bills. But approval of the reconstruction project would inevitably raise rates; by how much is unknown.
FirstEnergy has been refusing to lower its rates to reflect the federal legislation, signed by President Trump on Dec. 22, 2017. The company wants approval of the settlement by Dec. 31.
More: The Plain Dealer
PUC Clarifies EVs not Subject to Regulation
The Public Utility Commission last week unanimously approved a policy statement clarifying that electric vehicle charging is a service to drivers and not considered a resale or redistribution of electricity.
“As it relates to electric vehicles, it would not be considered — in terms of a charging station — as resale or redistribution of electricity,” PUC Chair Gladys Brown said at a conference in Hershey. “We wanted to remove that barrier, if someone interpreted it another way.”
Brewery Building Solar Canopies in Parking Lot
The Alchemist, a brewery in Stowe, has partnered with SunCommon and Community National Bank to build two solar panel canopies over 31 parking spaces in its lot.
The canopies, which cost nearly $500,000, will be made up of nearly 400 panels.
“I think this is a really great example of how we can produce clean energy without negatively affecting the natural beauty of our state,” The Alchemist co-owner Jen Kimmich said. “I mean, it’s a parking lot.”