In the News

Steven Weissman in the news:

Solar program faces utilities’ challenge

Steven Weissman quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), Oct. 15, 2015

“People are trying to understand what should be legitimately considered a benefit,” Weissman said. “Is net metering adding costs or reducing costs to the system? That’s the question underlying this whole debate. There’s no clarity on that and no uniformity in the approach used to analyze that around the country.”

9th Circuit orders regulators to take closer look at California energy crisis claims

Steven Weissman quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), April 30, 2015

The decision will have a broader effect beyond the California dispute as it will force FERC to subject wholesale energy sales across the country to more scrutiny, said Steven Weissman.

Exploring ‘claw backs’ as a CPUC tactic to improve utility safety

Steven Wiessman quoted on, April 20, 2015

“The commission interface is with the company itself and not with individuals,” Weissman, who previously served as a CPUC administrative law judge, said in an April 16 interview, noting that utilities have relative freedom in how they spend the money the commission awards in rates — including with respect to executive compensation.

CPUC lobbying rules need reforms to end culture of ‘lawlessness’

Steven Weissman quoted in SNL Financial (registration required), March 12, 2015

“This agency has extraordinary independence and a lack of checks and balances that would normally apply to voting members of the state Senate,” he said. “There is almost no court review of CPUC proceedings.”

Regulators’ e-mails with PG&E blasted as culture of ‘lawlessness’

Steven Weissman quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, March 11, 2015

Steven Weissman … said the current standards reflect a “cultural divide” with similar agencies in other states that ban such lobbying altogether. “California does not even discourage” the contacts, Weissman said. “To the contrary, it welcomes them.”

Scandal-rocked utilities commission struggles with leadership challenge

Steven Weissman quoted in San Francisco Business Times, December 19, 2014

Weissman … says the California Legislature “in its wisdom,” decided not to make the agency subject to stricter California rules regarding “back-channel” communications between other state agencies and those they regulate.

White House issues new draft NEPA guidance

Steven Weissman quoted in E&ENews PM, December 18, 2014

“Basically, they’re saying you could level over 160 acres’ worth of trees before you reach any level of significance, or burn 25 million pounds of coal,” he said. “It’s all very interesting because there’s no particular number that’s magical here; this is just an effort to set a benchmark [to prevent] too much attention on projects that would have smaller effects.”

Could FERC put a price on carbon?

Steven Weissman quoted in Utility Dive, July 28, 2014

“It is not a huge step for FERC to take more direct climate change action,” Weismann says. “It is likely in time there will be a price on carbon. Including a carbon adder in wholesale electricity rates now would help ensure that electricity demand is met using the generating resources with the lowest environmental cost and help guide utilities in directions that would not leave them vulnerable to sudden cost increases later.”

Your rooftop solar questions answered

Steven Weissman interviewed by KALW City Visions, May 12, 2014

“There was a study done by Congress in 1980 saying that in order for solar to cut through, there was going to have to be a reduction from the current price, which at that point was about ten dollars per installed watt down to one dollar per installed watt, and they predicted that would happen in 1988. Well we didn’t get there, then, but there’s been a dramatic shift in the last handful of years, and now solar is very much within that range.”

Climate change threatens energy infrastructure

Steven Weissman quoted in Climate Central, March 10, 2014

The GAO report does not question scientific findings on global warming, and it shows that many energy companies recognize the risk they face from climate change, said Steven Weissman….“This nonpartisan report should shift the burden of proof for any firms or agencies that are dragging their feet,” Weissman said, adding that the report could focus the attention of the public and policymakers on the need to strengthen all public infrastructure to better stand up to climate change.


San Bruno officials suspect PUC judge under pressure to go easy on PG&E

Steven Weissman quoted in San Jose Mercury News, December 2, 2013

Steven Weissman, director of the energy program at UC Berkeley Law School and a former PUC administrative law judge, said it would be acceptable for the executive director and the administrative law judges to discuss “procedural and staffing issues,” but added that “it would be typical for the executive director to discuss these things with the chief ALJ (administrative law judge) rather than going directly to the judge on the case.”

Complex networks make up US power grid

Steven Weissman interviewed by National Public Radio, August 14, 2013

“From one perspective, there should be zero tolerance for the kind of outage that’s going to create physical and economic inconvenience for people. On the other hand, one major inconvenient episode every 38 or 40 years may not be all that bad. So the question is: how much do you want to spend? What do you want to sacrifice in order to get to a higher level of reliability?”

Court decisions could mean $1.5B in refunds from Calif. power crisis

Steven Weissman quoted in Greenwire, April 5, 2013

“There’s a history of the cases not leading to anywhere near the full amount of the deal showing up in cash,” said Steven Weissman.… One example of a cash-free settlement would be to adjust charges for BPA or WAPA electricity in the future, he said.

Calif. reaches out to neighbors in push for green power

Ethan Elkind and Steven Weissman quoted in Environment and Energy Publishing, January 18, 2013

Green electricity isn’t available if clouds are out or the wind is not blowing…. “It helps to balance it out if you have a lot of different resources to compensate,” Elkind said. “At some point, the state’s going to have to go in that direction, where we start to bring in renewable resources from all across the Western region.”

“The extent to which you expand the ISO’s control area, you’re also expanding the ability to have a first point of interconnection between renewable energy projects and the ISO’s grid,” Weissman said.

Gov. Brown appointees face test as CPUC tackles nuclear, pipeline safety

Steven Weissman quoted in Environment & Energy Publishing, January 7, 2013

“I’ve noticed that Peevey and [former Commissioner Timothy] Simon tended to vote as a bloc almost all of the time, and the question was who they could get to go along with them,” said Steven Weissman, a former administrative law judge at the CPUC who now serves as associate director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment. “I think the voting blocs are not necessarily something that makes for the best policy.”

New study recommends mass adoption of electric vehicles

Ethan Elkind and Steven Weissman quoted in The Daily Californian, September 9, 2012

“Electric vehicles are important to our environmental concerns, public health, quality of life and national security,” said Ethan Elkind…. “They are important to the economy because you would have a domestic source of fuel instead of having to import foreign oil.”

The magnitude of environmental benefits is not the same in all states because it depends on which energy source is used to generate electricity. In states like West Virginia, electricity is produced by coal as opposed to cleaner energies used in California, said Weissman.

Recovering the waterfront is important because people want to live here

Steven Weissman interviewed by Diari Mes (page 8), July 2, 2012

“I think to advance, it is necessary to combine strong political leadership with a concern for urban design and a participatory democratic process that will generate enough public support. Leaders must be able to describe the future they want for their city, and citizens must create this vision and support it so it functions.”

University report takes stab at Brown’s lofty renewables goal

Jeffrey Russell and Steven Weissman report cited in Greentech Media, June 11, 2012

The Governor’s office asked CLEE’s Weissman and Jeffrey Russell to expand on the UCLA conference stakeholder input with further research and analysis and build a comprehensive outline of how to overcome the many remaining planning, permitting, financing, construction and interconnection barriers slowing California’s DG.

“There is going to have to be a lot done on the utility level,” Weissman said. “The utilities … tend to look at their resource needs on a service territory-wide basis. But in order to make distributed generation a significant factor and a positive contribution to the grid, there is going to have to be a renewed emphasis on local resource planning.”
This story appeared in a number of sources including ClimateWire, San Francisco Business Times, Daily Democrat, and KQED News.

State caught in middle of electric car station dispute

Steven Weissman quoted in Daily Journal, May 29, 2012 (registration required)

Ecototality may have its work cut out for it in the lawsuit, said Steven Weissman. “The courts have over time given tremendous deference to the PUC about the way it resolves cases that involve ratepayer funds.”

Marin residents facing July deadline to pick power provider

Steven Weissman interviewed by KCBS-TV, ConsumerWatch, May 29, 2012

“It’s a dramatic increase in the amount of renewable power being provided to customers,” said Steven Weissman. He said nothing’s for sure in the energy markets, but believes over time, Marin Clean Energy’s rates should be comparable to P.G. and E’s. “I don’t think you’re going to have a significantly different bill,” Weissman told ConsumerWatch.