Tag: California

California’s Coastline: to Sink or to Save?

California’s Coastline: To Sink or To Save?

By: Katelyn Holcomb

Early California dreamers built and established themselves along a coastline that is inherently meant to change, but as sea levels rise, the Pacific Ocean engulfs California’s famous beaches and coastline. [1] With every swell, with every storm, and with every passing tide, the coastline erodes; and everything built on that earth—the Pacific Coast Highway, seaside communities, the rail line to San Diego—has nowhere to go.[2] One foot of sea level rise pushes the shoreline inland as much as the length of a football field, yet Californians insist on residing on the edge of the water.[3] Californians play a “game of chicken” with the Pacific Ocean, hoping that it will yield and allow for picture-perfect life along the coast to continue. However, the ocean persistently advances, eating the coastline we have come to admire and love.

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California Becomes the First State with Direct Potable Reuse Regulations

California Becomes the First State with Direct Potable Reuse Regulations

By: Victor Chahin

The American Southwest has recently encountered its driest periods in 1,200 years.[1] California, one of the most populous yet driest states in the United States, continuously grapples with exacerbated drought conditions.[2] Over the past decade, the Golden State has witnessed an increase in both the frequency and severity of dry periods in comparison to wet ones, significantly impacting the state’s water supply and reserves.[3]

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How Grid Resiliency can Help Tackle Climate Change

Americans are experiencing the impacts of climate change on an increasingly acute level every day. The February storms across the nation that resulted in rolling blackouts across Texas and several other nearby states underscored the crisis and raised questions about whether the American electricity grid can withstand the negative effects of climate change, such as extreme temperatures, more frequent and intense storms, floods, wildfires, droughts, and more.

Since 2011, the United States has sustained $135 billion in damages from extreme weather and climate disasters, with more than seventy extreme climate events affecting the Midwest.[i] One recent study showed that investor-owned utilities face a $500 billion resilience investment gap.[ii]

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BLM Poised to Expand Renewable Energy Development on Federal Lands Despite Revoking Amendments to Desert Renewable Energy Plan

The Biden administration recently issued a decision walking back proposed amendments to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP)[i] which, if adopted, would have opened 800,000 acres of land in the California desert for renewable energy development.[ii] Conservation advocates praised the decision while renewable energy developers lamented the loss of an opportunity to expand solar and wind generation in the region.[iii]

Developed during the Obama Administration, the DRECP sets aside nearly 11 million acres of public lands in the California desert for renewable energy development and conservation projects.[iv] Billed as a collaboration between federal and state partners including the California Energy Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, BLM, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the DRECP seeks to capitalize on the region’s abundant sun, wind, and geothermal resources while also preserving the area’s ecological diversity.[v]

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California Governor’s Executive Order Pushes Phase-Out of Gas-Powered Cars by 2035

On September 23, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order (“Order”) directing that “all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles by 2035.”[1] The order’s public announcement emphasizes concern over smog and toxic diesel emissions and notes that half of California’s carbon pollution originates from the transportation sector.[2] The Order prioritizes deploying zero emissions technologies to “reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollutants that disproportionately burden our disadvantaged communities of color.”[3]

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[NEWS, Oct. 12, 2019] Threat of Wildfire Prompts California Utility Companies to Cut Power to Customers

Threat of Wildfire Prompts California Utility Companies to Cut Power to Customers

On Wednesday, October 9, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) began shutting off power to nearly 800,000 customers in northern California. PG&E stated that the outages were necessary to preempt the risk of wildfires brought on by severe weather conditions like high winds and hot, dry air throughout the company’s service area.[1] At the time PG&E initiated the outages, the company anticipated that some customers could be without power for days.[2]

Southern California Edison Company (SCE), the largest utility provider in south-central California, including Los Angeles County, announced on Thursday, October 10, that it would start cutting power to customers in light of the hazardous conditions caused by the Santa Ana winds.[3]  The same day, wildfires broke out in SCE’s service area in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles.[4]  SCE anticipates that over 200,00 customers may be affected by the power outages.[5]

These controlled blackouts, also known as “preemptive de-energizations,” are the foundation of PG&E and SCE’s Public Safety Power Shut-off programs (PSPS), which are part of a comprehensive effort to reduce the risk of electrical infrastructure sparking fires. This is accomplished by temporarily turning off power to specific areas.[6] Following the wildfires that devastated parts of California in 2017 and 2018, the California PUC ordered electric utility companies to submit Wildfire Mitigation Plans[7] and this past summer, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that provides $21.5 billion in funding to help utilities pay for wildfire damage, and make upgrades to the electric infrastructure.[8] The California State Legislature, the California Public Utilities Commission (California PUC), and electric utility companies have, in turn, intensified their efforts to improve the safety of electric infrastructure as the threat of seasonal wildfires is exacerbated by changing climate. Dangerous weather conditions have started to subside, though line inspections may delay power returning to some PG&E customers for up to five days[9] and the fires in Riverside County continue to burn.[10]

Featured Image: National Weather Service Sacramento

[1] See Press Release, PG&E Begins to Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety to Nearly 800,000 Customers Across Northern and Central California, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (Oct. 9, 2019), https://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page?title=20191009_pge_begins_to_proactively_turn_off_power_for_safety_to_nearly_800000_customers_across_northern_and_central_california (last visited Oct. 9, 2019).

[2] Id.

[3] See Press Release, , Santa Ana Winds Prompt SCE Public Safety Power Shutoffs in Some Southland Areas, Southern California Edison Company (Oct. 10, 2019), https://energized.edison.com/stories/santa-ana-winds-prompt-sce-public-safety-power-shutoffs-in-some-southland-areas.

[4] See Joseph Serna, Hannah Fry, & Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Numerous Riverside County homes destroyed by fire; SoCal Edison cuts power to thousands, The Los Angeles Times (Oct. 10, 2019), https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-10-10/l-a-faces-critical-fire-danger-possible-power-outages-as-santa-ana-winds-buffet-southern-california (last visited Oct. 10, 2019).

[5] See Public Safety Power Shutoffs, Current Status, Southern California Edison Co (effective Oct. 11, 2019), https://www.scemaintenance.com/content/sce-maintenance/en/psps.html (last visited Oct. 11, 2019).

[6] See Rulemaking 18-12-005, Decision Adopting De-Energization (Public Safety Power Shutoff) Guidelines (Phase I Guidelines), California PUC, p. 3 (issued May 30, 2019).

[7] See Rulemaking 18-10-007, Order Instituting Rulemaking to Implement Electric Utility Wildfire Mitigation Plans Pursuant to Senate Bill 901 (2018), California PUC (issued Oct. 25, 2018).

[8] See Alejandro Lazo & Katherine Blunt, California Legislature Approves Multibillion-Dollar Wildfire Fund, The Wall Street Journal (July 11, 2019), https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-legislature-approves-multibillion-dollar-wildfire-fund-11562870591 (last visited Oct. 11, 2019).

[9] See Thomas Fuller, Californians Confront a Blackout Induced to Prevent Blazes, The New York Times (Oct. 10, 2019), https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/us/pge-outage.html (last visited Oct. 11, 2019).

[10] Incident Overview, California Department of Fire & Forestry Protection, https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/ (last visited Oct. 11, 2019).

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