Federal energy regulators on March 17 once again rejected arguments by the California Public Utilities Commission and others that a 50-basis-point incentive adder on Pacific Gas & Electric's transmission rate for membership in an independent system operator is not just and reasonable. The CPUC and other state entities had requested rehearing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's July 2019 decision that the incentive for PG&E's participation in the California Independent System Operator is appropriate (see CEM No. 1548). The CPUC had appealed the adder to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which remanded it to FERC, leading to the July 2019 decision and the March 17 denial of rehearing [ER14-2529].

Sunnyvale-based Oklo submitted the first combined license application for an advanced reactor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the company announced March 17. This is also the first privately funded application for a commercial advanced reactor. The company is working on a small advanced fission reactor called Aurora, which is able to generate 1.5 MW of power in remote or off-grid locations. Oklo recently received a grant from the Idaho National Laboratory for access to spent nuclear fuel to both develop and demonstrate its microreactor technology. The parties are finalizing that agreement (see CEM No. 1580).

The McKinleyville Community Services District's board of directors approved a five-year employment agreement with Patrick Kaspari, who will serve as the district's general manager effective June 1. The action taken at the March 4 meeting concludes the process of finding a replacement for Greg Orsini, the current general manager, who announced his retirement in August. The two will work together through Orsini's retirement, which is scheduled for July 17. Kaspari is a licensed civil engineer with GHD Inc. in Eureka. He has been the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District engineer since 2008 and has worked on various projects with MCSD.

Thousands of Utahns lost power on March 18 after a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck the Salt Lake City area at about 7 a.m. local time. According to a Rocky Mountain Power news release, approximately 73,000 customers experienced power outages. Company spokesperson David Eskelsen told California Energy Markets in a phone interview that power was restored to all customers by around 11 p.m. "Most outages were caused by protective devices on the electric grid activating to prevent damage to utility and customer equipment," the release said. This is the largest earthquake to hit the state since 1992.