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California Energy Markets / This Week
[CEM 1544 / June 21, 2019]
PG&E Enters Into $1 Billion Wildfire Settlement; Newsom Proposes New Fund
Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to a $1-billion payout to resolve wildfire claims filed against it by cities, counties, districts and public agencies in Northern California, the company announced on June 19. The payouts concern the 2015 Butte Fire, 2017 North Bay wildfires and 2018 Camp wildfire. However, they resolve only a fraction of the liabilities facing the bankrupt utility. Also, Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 21 proposed to establish a new “Wildfire Recovery Fund” for utilities to stabilize their financial health, ensure “fair compensation” for wildfire victims, and protect ratepayers from rate spikes.
PG&E Attorneys Protest Exclusion from CPUC Stress-Test Protections
Attorneys for Pacific Gas & Electric criticized a California Public Utilities Commission proposed decision that would prevent the utility from accessing the “stress test,” a regulatory mechanism that would cap utility shareholder exposure to wildfire costs. The CPUC’s proposed decision, issued on May 24, excludes utilities that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from applying to be evaluated under the test. But in June 13 comments, PG&E attorneys suggested that the stress test regulatory framework could help it emerge from bankruptcy as an economically viable entity.
Southwest Power Pool Lays Out Plans for New Western Energy Imbalance Service Market
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The Southwest Power Pool plans to begin operating a Western Energy Imbalance Service Market in December 2020, and has laid out a detailed plan for the initiative including energy trading and settlement, governance, an executive committee and a market monitoring unit. SPP, which has operated such markets before, said it needs some utilities to sign up by Aug. 1 to make the effort happen.
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