Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
If you make a contribution of $150 or more, you will become an official “Friend of the Planet” and receive a Friend of the Planet T-shirt or water bottle. You can also submit opinion essays to us for our consideration for posting on our new “Bright Ideas” op-ed page.
Activists demonstrate inside PG&E’s San Francisco headquarters to protest any possible bailouts for the company to cover costs associated with deadly wildfires. Photo: Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner
It’s been a long road for Pacific Gas and Electric, after facing possible murder charges for its role in California’s recent wildfires as well as lawsuits from survivors, the utility has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As PV Magazine explained, the filing is a financial move that allows PG&E to reorganize its debts, and does not involve liquidation. Along with this, the utility is expected to continue normal operations including supplying power to its customers. As PG&E figures out its plan forward, consumers, wildfire victims, and investors are left with an uncertain future and a likely long legal battle ahead.
The SF Chronicle Editorial Board wrote yesterday that the intervening steps are worth watching. The bankruptcy process has the potential to greatly change the utility’s operations and commitments. Depending on a judge’s rulings, PG&E could be shielded from liability payments to wildfire victims, cancel renewable energy promises vital to clean energy programs or be allowed to raise electric rates. The giant company, California’s largest private utility, might also be chopped into smaller units (or turned into a public utility), a possibility that pleases some consumer groups but angers the labor union representing some 12,000 employees. Another possible scenario is that California’s taxpayers will be forced to bail out the utility to keep power flowing which will raise rates for PG&E’s customers.
Why This Matters: While PG&E has declared bankruptcy before the proceedings for this case may indicate the fate of other utilities in fire-prone states. As climate change increases the likelihood of massive wildfires in Western states, it will become increasingly expensive for utilities to operate. This may spur a big shift to distributed energy, community solar, and rooftop solar plus battery storage as the energy utilities sell to customers becomes too costly.
President Trump trumpeted his trade deal with China, but so far it has been a bust, according to The Wall Street Journal — the Chinese have not purchased nearly the amount of energy (in terms of total dollars) as they promised — only $2B in oil and gas purchases against a commitment of $25B for this year.
A federal judge in Washington, DC ruled yesterday that the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down and empty all its oil until the government completes an environmental review of the pipeline’s impacts, giving the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies downstream, a huge victory. Similarly, late in the day, the Supreme Court refused to overturn the order of a district judge that shut down construction of parts of the Keystone XL pipeline so it is also blocked for now.
Why It Matters: The Dakota and Keystone XL news is greatly tempered by the fact that numerous other pipeline projects can go ahead despite their inadequate permit unless they are individually challenged in court and blocked.
Yesterday, Dominion Energy and its partner, Duke Energy, announced they were ending a 600-mile natural gas project that would have cost at least $8 billion to complete. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, Dominion and Duke canceled the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the face of mounting regulatory uncertainty caused by a federal court […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.