The CPUC welcomed Nancy E. Ryan, Ph.D, as its newest Commissioner after Governor Schwarzenegger announced her appointment on January 27, 2010.
Commissioner Ryan is an economist with expertise in energy markets, climate change policy, and the public health and ecological impacts of energy production. Since February 2009, she has served as the CPUC’s Deputy Executive Director for Policy. She joined the CPUC in January 2006 as President Peevey’s Chief Energy Advisor and served as his Chief of Staff from April 2007 to February 2009. While at the CPUC Commissioner Ryan has played a key role in developing policies in the areas of climate change, electricity market design, and renewable energy. In the course of these efforts she has helped to build and enhance the CPUC’s working relationships with its sister energy agencies and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as the Legislature and Governor’s office.
Prior to joining the CPUC, Commissioner Ryan was Senior Economist and Deputy California Director at Environmental Defense Fund, where she led policy initiatives focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and power plants, curbing air pollution from diesel engines, and restoring rivers and watersheds.
Commissioner Ryan, 49, received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Economics from Yale.
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The CPUC approved allocation of approximately $113 million to natural gas customers arising from settlements approved by the San Diego Superior Court to address scarcity in the natural gas market in 2000-2001 and manipulation of the published price of natural gas from 1999-2002.
Settlement funds will be distributed to the customers of the following utilities in these percentages:
- Pacific Gas and Electric Company: 46.7%
- Southern California Gas Company: 31.49%
- San Diego Gas and Electric Company: 14.42%
- Long Beach Gas and Oil Department: 4.07%
- South West Gas: 3.32%
Proceeds will be returned to the respective utility’s customers through a one-time credit to the procurement rates for each utility.
The proceeds are a result of settlements in two groups of cases. One group of cases relate to civil suits filed in 2000 alleging that major pipeline companies conspired to create a scarcity in the natural gas delivery market, which contributed to the energy crisis of 2000-2001. The other group of cases relate to a set of civil cases filed in 2003, which alleged that traders of natural gas manipulated the published price of natural gas in the California market from 1999 to 2002.
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The CPUC has approved three matching grants totaling $27,778,681 from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to bring high-speed Internet broadband services to unserved and underserved areas of the Central Valley, North Coast, and Northeastern California.
The projects are:
1) California Valley Broadband Project by California Valley Broadband, LLC would build a wireless network to serve communities in the counties of Fresno, Madera, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, and Stanislaus. The project will receive 10 percent matching grants from the CASF contingent upon approval for 80 percent matching grants from the federal broadband stimulus portion ($7.2 billion) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). California Valley Broadband, LLC would construct a wireless network using WiFi and WiMAX frequencies to deliver Internet services, including VoIP, at speeds of up to 20 mbps download and 6 mbps upload to an estimated 40,905 potential unserved households and 36,290 underserved households. It would serve potential new subscribers, create an estimated 560 construction and related jobs, stimulate economic output and growth, and improve the lives of the residents of the Central Valley area.
2) Northeastern California Broadband Project by Broadband Associates International, Inc. (BBA) involves the construction of 640 miles of fiber optic infrastructure from BBA’s existing backbone at State Highway 299 for an overall coverage of approximately 6,000 square miles to serve schools, colleges, health centers, businesses, and residents in the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Tehama, and Yuba. The project will receive 10 percent matching grants from the CASF contingent upon approval for 80 percent ARRA funding including a 10 percent matching fund waiver or a total of 90 percent from the federal broadband stimulus portion of the ARRA.
3) Sea Ranch Project by Verizon California, Inc., would install new fiber optic line to serve unserved and underserved portions of the Sea Ranch - (Yardarm-95480 cluster), Cazadero, and Timber Cove areas along the northern Sonoma County coast. The project would provide Internet speeds of 7 mbps download and 0.768 mbps upload. The project spans 20 square miles and would serve approximately 232 households. The project will receive a 40 percent matching grant from the CASF and will not apply for ARRA funding.
The CASF was established on December 20, 2007, to provide 40 percent matching infrastructure grants to broadband providers willing to put up the matching 60 percent of funds and to serve the nearly 2,000 California communities that are currently unserved and underserved by broadband.
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The CPUC has established a California Solar Initiative (CSI) Thermal Program to provide incentives for the installation of solar water heating (SWH) systems in new and existing homes and businesses in the territories of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company.
Beginning May 1, 2010, residential customers who install certified SWH systems will qualify for a state rebate of up to $1,875. Actual incentive payments will be determined by the thermal output of the system. The typical system that displaces natural gas will initially earn a rebate of $1,500, while the typical electricity-displacing system will qualify for a rebate of $1,010. Incentive levels will decline in four steps as the solar thermal market grows, similar to the general market CSI-photovoltaic program. Commercial and multi-family customers who install certified SWH systems will qualify for up-front incentives of up to $500,000 beginning on June 1, 2010.
The CSI Thermal Program will be funded by $250 million in collections from natural gas ratepayers, pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 1470, as well as up to $100.8 million in funds already authorized and currently being collected through the general market CSI photovoltaic program and earmarked in Senate Bill 1 for solar thermal projects such as solar water heating. Monies collected under AB 1470 from natural gas ratepayers will fund incentives for solar water heating systems that displace natural gas usage, while funds collected through CSI from electric ratepayers will fund electric displacing solar water heating systems.
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