Rachel Peterson is the new acting executive director at the California Public Utilities Commission, replacing Alice Stebbins, who says she will sue the commission over her dismissal (see CEM No. 1606). Peterson joined the CPUC in 2011 and most recently served as deputy executive director for safety enforcement and policy, the CPUC said in a Sept. 10 tweet.

Clean Power Alliance on Sept. 10 approved two solar-photovoltaic and battery storage projects that will provide about 365 MW of generating capacity and 205 MW of battery storage in Southern California by the end of 2023. The Rexford 1 project, located in Tulare County, will provide about 300 MW of solar capacity and 180 MW of battery storage capacity on private farmland. Construction will begin in 2022, finish in late 2023, and create about 400 union construction jobs, according to CPA, which provides power to about 3 million people in Southern California. The community choice aggregator signed a 15-year power-purchase agreement with 8minute Solar Energy for Rexford 1. The Chalan project in Kern County will provide about 65 MW of solar capacity and 25 MW of battery storage capacity by December 2023. The project's developers submitted an interconnection request to the California Independent System Operator in April 2018. The project's power will be sold through a 15-year PPA with Origis Energy, a solar and energy storage company based in Miami.

Lightsource bp said it secured $20 million in financing and plans to begin construction on the 16.5-MW/13-MW-AC Wildflower Solar project. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is the sole offtaker from the "pollinator friendly" solar farm, which will be sited in Rio Linda, outside Sacramento. Power from the facility will support SMUD's Neighborhood SolarShares program. The goal of the site's pollinator-friendly features is to support biodiversity and boost yields of agricultural land in the area. 

Work on a demonstration of a new type of energy storage project has begun in Scotland. Gravitricity says its approach uses weights suspended in abandoned mineshafts to charge and discharge energy. Power is either absorbed or generated when the weights are raised or lowered via a winch system. The prototype is being constructed in a 17-yard-tall shaft and will have a 250-kW capacity. Testing and refinements are expected to be incorporated into a 4-MW project, slated to start construction in 2021. The technology, which can produce between 1 MW and as much as 20 MW of peak power, reportedly has a 50-year life span, can be operated without any cycle limits or degradation, and costs less than lithium batteries, according to Gravitricity. The duration of the output can range from 15 minutes to as much as eight hours, depending on how the units are configured. The company's founder and the inventor of the technology, Peter Fraenkel, is credited with inventing the world's first tidal energy turbine.

Monterey Bay Community Power on Sept. 8 unveiled a new name and logo as well as a new operational strategy. Now known as Central Coast Community Energy, the CCA intends to reach 100-percent renewable energy by 2030, which is 15 years ahead of California's target. The name change was warranted by the CCA's expansion, it said. The City of Buellton is the latest member to join, which means it now serves some 400,000 residential, commercial and agricultural customers in 29 cities and four counties. Tom Habashi remains chief executive officer.

NV Energy on Sept. 6 issued its second call in recent weeks asking customers to conserve energy between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. to offset increased demand due to a record-breaking heat wave across the western U.S. Las Vegas hit 114 degrees on Sept. 6, the hottest temperature ever recorded in the city in September, according to the National Weather Service. NV Energy did not reissue the call to cut back on energy usage, and temperatures in Las Vegas dropped to 88 degrees by Sept. 8, the NWS reported.