The California Department of Water Resources requested an increase in the "nonbypassable charge" in the state's wildfire fund to make up for a fund shortage last year. DWR asked the California Public Utilities Commission to order certain investor-owned utilities to increase the charge from $5.80/MWh to $6.60/MWh from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022, in order to meet a total revenue requirement of about $902 million, as required by AB 1054, passed in 2019. The wildfire fund instituted by AB 1054 helps utilities cover wildfire-related liabilities and therefore is meant to "spread the exposure IOUs have for liabilities from wildfires," DWR said in a Sept. 6 letter to the CPUC. The commission asked IOU representatives and other parties to respond to DWR's proposal by Oct. 8.

The State of California and the Port of Los Angeles have allocated a total of $12 million in funding to AltaSea, a nonprofit corporation, for construction of an energy research and development center at the port's Berth 58. The port agreed to advance the first $6 million of a $40-million funding commitment to AltaSea, which enabled it to start renovation of Berth 58, the site of the initial 60,000 square feet of the 180,000-square-foot Center of Innovation. The funds were granted provisionally, based on AltaSea securing $6 million in matching funds, which were supplied by the state. Construction should start in mid-2022 and the facility should be completed in the first half of 2023.The facility should be the West Coast's largest "blue economy" R&D center, AltaSea said in a news release. This is the first structure to be renovated at its 35-acre Port of Los Angeles campus. The center will have three research clusters, one of which will focus on developing ocean-based energy, such as kinetic-wave, wind and algae-fuel technologies. The site will also house offshore renewable-energy firms and support educational and workforce development initiatives. Among the current anchor tenants are the University of Southern California, the Southern California Marine Institute and Pacific Mariculture. Oceanographer Robert Ballard's Ocean Exploration Trust will build a research and education center at AltaSea.

U-Haul has purchased 1 million gallons of renewable propane for distribution in California. The company, which purports to be the largest U.S. retailer of propane, is working with Suburban Propane Partners to make the fuel available at more than 60 propane-dispensing stores in the state. U-Haul customers used the first million gallons of renewable propane the company secured in 2020; the second million gallons has begun to be available at stores. U-Haul said this should allow consumers to purchase renewable propane well into 2022, and it plans to continue offering the green fuel based on California's clean-fuel rebates. Customers do not pay a premium when they opt to buy renewable propane.

Ohio-based Solar FlexRack in an Oct. 4 news release said that solar infrastructure, including its trackers, has been installed at some 80 solar projects on farms across California. The company said the solar equipment has helped agricultural operations, particularly dairies, "realize drastic savings on monthly utility bills." Danell Brothers Dairy has been able to achieve more than $650,000 in annual savings from utility costs and benefited from the energy resilience provided by solar. "With utility rates for California dairy farms having increased by as much as 54 percent over the last ten years, an increasing number of energy-intensive dairy farms are opting for solar energy to reduce operational costs," Solar FlexRack said in the release. "More than 150 California dairy farms are generating solar energy for on-farm usage," Dairy Cares, a sustainability organization formed by and for California dairies, said in an email to California Energy Markets. The group has compiled data on projects in the state, but no formal study has been conducted. The average capacity of the installations is about 1 MW.

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