Dixie Fire Plume 0723

A smoke plume from the Dixie Fire in Butte County, which PG&E says might have originated from its equipment.

The Dixie Fire in several counties in Northern California, which Pacific Gas & Electric is under investigation for possibly causing, has burned more than 1,000 structures, which would trigger the next step of the California Public Utilities Commission's six-step enforcement process if PG&E is found responsible. The Dixie Fire, which was about 31 percent contained on Aug. 13, is now the largest single wildfire in the state's history, and has burned about 510,000 acres and destroyed 1,109 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. PG&E's approved 2020 bankruptcy reorganization plan set a 1,000-structure wildfire destruction threshold as part of an enhanced enforcement process that ends with a review of the utility's certificate of public convenience and necessity.

The CPUC proposed to approve a $3.9-billion settlement agreement between PG&E and numerous stakeholders for decommissioning activities at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. PG&E in previous applications proposed to spend $4.8 billion on decommissioning chores, an amount that San Luis Obispo County agreed with, the proposed decision says. However, The Utility Reform Network disagreed with PG&E’s proposed cost projection and asked the commission to look more closely at seven project areas, including waste disposal and spent-fuel management. The proposed decision could be voted on in September, but not sooner.

Central Coast Community Energy is preparing to enroll 42,000 new customers in Carpinteria, Goleta, and the unincorporated areas of southern Santa Barbara County. Service to those areas is scheduled to launch in October. The first of four notices will be mailed to eligible customers starting this month. The community choice aggregator also plans to hold several community outreach events, including virtual webinars in English and Spanish. The areas' incumbent utilities are PG&E and Southern California Edison. The CCA, which launched in 2018, currently provides service to roughly 350,000 customers in Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz counties.

Construction on the Casa Diablo IV binary geothermal project in Mammoth Lakes is underway, two California CCAs contracted to offtake 14 MW from the Ormat Technologies plant said in an Aug. 11 news release. Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Central Coast Community Energy said the facility is the first new geothermal plant to be built in California Independent System Operator territory in 30 years, and will help the CCAs fulfill a new CPUC procurement order that requires 1,000 MW of new zero-carbon generation with a capacity factor of at least 80 percent to be on line by 2026. Ormat said the facility uses a closed-loop binary-process technology that eliminates the emissions that would occur naturally with traditional flash-steam production. When fully operational, the plant should generate 30 MW per year. The remaining 16 MW is earmarked for delivery to the City of Colton. The contract is one of a dozen joint power-purchase agreements signed by the two CCAs. 

The second tranche of Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project funding opened—and promptly closed—on Aug. 10. The roughly $12 million available for new voucher requests was wholly subscribed within 30 minutes, program administrator CALSTART told California Energy Markets. The new voucher requests were available on a first-come, first-served basis. The amount of available funding was reduced based on requests made by public entities or for Class 8 vehicles performing drayage operations since the first wave in June. CALSTART said additional funds could be available in fall; however, this is contingent upon the California Air Resources Board making funds available.

PG&E on Aug. 10 signed a 15-year resource-adequacy contract with Recurrent Energy for 150 MW and 600 MWh of energy storage in Phase 2 of the company's Crimson solar-plus-storage project. The contract will be effective when the 350-MW/1,400-MWh Crimson project, located in Kern County, is on line in summer 2022. Recurrent is touting it as "one of the largest battery energy storage projects in the world." Recurrent also has a long-term storage contract with SCE for 200 MW/800 MWh from Phase 1 of the project. "The newly signed agreement with PG&E is specifically in response to a decision by the CPUC in March for the California utilities to 'take actions to prepare for potential extreme weather in the summers of 2021 and 2022,'" Recurrent said in a news release. Recurrent Energy, the U.S. project-development arm and subsidiary of Canadian Solar, now has roughly 5 GW of solar-plus-storage projects in development.

Bloom Energy and New York-based Daroga Power, an investor and developer of distributed-generation energy projects, on Aug. 10 closed an infrastructure portfolio fund that will allow Daroga to deploy 32.85 MW of Bloom Energy solid-oxide fuel cells. Daroga said $21.5 million in funding was privately raised. In addition, Bank of America committed up to $68 million of tax equity while Silicon Valley Bank provided roughly $135 million in debt financing. No additional financial details were disclosed. To date, roughly 6 MW of fuel cells in Daroga's portfolio are operational. The other fuel cells "are committed to 17 market-leading and Fortune 500 commercial and industrial off-takers under long-term energy services agreements" and will be deployed by the end of 2022. California is one of the states in which the technology will be deployed; however, Daroga did not provide any specifics. Daroga's website shows several existing projects throughout the state, the largest of which is a 1.7-MW fuel cell project located north of Chico. Bloom Energy is providing the fuel cells for the portfolio and will maintain the equipment under a long-term maintenance and operation agreement. Daroga Power will oversee operations and financial performance.

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