Zoo Storage

Representatives from the San Diego Zoo and EDF Renewables cut the ribbon on the zoo’s battery storage system Jan. 21. In attendance, from left, were Alex Martinez, EDFR; Raphael Declercq, EDFR; San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer; Paul Baribault, San Diego Zoo; City Councilmember Chris Ward (District 3); and Michael Robinson, EDFR.

Pacific Gas & Electric on Feb. 7 announced that former Alcoa Vice President Francisco Benavides will be the utility's new chief safety officer. Benavides will report directly to PG&E CEO Bill Johnson and will start his position on March 9. He served as vice president of environmental, health and safety at Alcoa and brings 30 years of industrial safety, health and environmental experience to his new role, PG&E said.

Southern California Gas Co. on Jan. 30 opened a new, public compressed natural gas fueling station that will offer only renewable natural gas. The facility, at SoCal Gas’ Bakersfield operating base, is the utility's 15th public CNG fueling station in operation and one of several across the San Joaquin Valley in an area which reportedly has the worst particulate-matter pollution in the state, according to the California Air Resources Board. Several utilities and commercial fleets have committed to increasing the use of RNG as part of their sustainability efforts, SoCal Gas said.

EDF Renewables North America and San Diego Zoo Global marked the addition of battery storage at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park at a Jan. 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 1-MW/4-MWh battery storage facility is designed to reduce energy costs through deploying the battery to offset demand spikes, thus reducing demand charges. Under the contract with EDF Renewables, the zoo only pays based on actual utility bill savings resulting from the battery's operation. 

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is the first organization in the United States to change its energy-efficiency metric from energy savings to avoided carbon emissions, the utility said Feb. 3. The change is designed to encourage building electrification. SMUD estimates owners of new all-electric homes in its service area will save $325 a year and existing homeowners that transition their residences to all-electric appliances, such as electric HVAC heat pumps and water heaters, will save $500 a year on average.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Jan. 24 filed to the rate-case docket of Tucson Electric Power currently under review at the Arizona Corporation Commission a request for just transition for coal communities in Arizona [E-01933A-19-0028]. Nez in the letter suggested that Arizona utilities, beginning with TEP, provide seed funding for the transition at a rate of $100,000 per megawatt of ownership for early coal plant retirements "to help fund economic diversification and resilience efforts on the Navajo Nation and in nearby communities." He said his administration is already responding to a $30-million to $50-million shortfall for fiscal year 2021 due to revenue reductions from coal plant and mine closures.

Brad Borman was appointed permanent legal division director at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Borman previously served as acting director of the division beginning in 2016. He will continue to oversee the provision of legal advice to the commission on matters ranging from human resources and employment litigation to inspection of public-records requests and updates to agency policies. He will also represent utility division staff before the NMPRC in regulatory proceedings and work with staff to develop staff positions and witness testimony before the commission.