Topic: Infrastructure
July 21, 2017

The proposal to build a major tunnel system under the hub of California’s waterworks won another approval Friday when the state finalized its environmental review of the project. “Today we are approving California WaterFix,” said Cindy Messer, acting director of the Department of Water Resources. DWR’s blessing was expected. But the long-planned project still needs a number of other permits, as well as the financial support of major water districts, before construction can begin.

July 16, 2017

California is poised for a swift transformation of its electricity landscape — and that could bring tumult if preparations aren’t made soon to maintain quality and avoid reliability problems like rolling blackouts, the state’s leading energy regulator is warning. After decades of dominance by investor-owned utilities, electricity markets in the state are becoming more competitive. Ratepayers today have a growing number of choices for powering their lights, laptops and electric cars — from installing rooftop solar panels and consumer-scale batteries to joining increasingly popular government-run electricity programs known as community choice aggregation, or CCA. Currently, investor-owned utilities such as San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric together buy and sell more than 75 percent of the state’s electricity. Their collective share could plunge to 10 percent within the next five years, with CCA programs causing most of the change, according to the state’s most aggressive forecast. More conservative estimates still show major shifts away from the utilities.

July 10, 2017

As inspectors assess the damage and investigate what caused the explosion, Saturday’s incident is emblematic of the challenges facing the nation’s largest municipal utility as it plays catch-up to update its aging power grid, officials said. The blast provided another example of the city's deteriorating infrastructure, which has made headlines after epic bursts of aging water pipes, crumbling sidewalks and gaping sinkholes. There are 70 large transformers in the utility’s network, and 20 of them still need to be replaced at a cost of about $5 million each, officials said. The utility’s ongoing Power System Reliability Program seeks to upgrade or replace thousands of smaller transformers, power poles, circuit breakers and other equipment. Wright said the utility is trying “to make up for what is several decades of deferred maintenance. The concern is that we need to get ahead so that reliability increases.”

June 20, 2017

The California High-Speed Rail Authority promises to “achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in construction” and is committed to operate the system on “100% renewable energy” by contracting for “400 to 600 megawatts of renewable power”. These promises may please environmentalists, but they cannot be kept.

June 14, 2017

Import growth slowed in May at the nation’s dominant West Coast container ports, as broad changes in the global ocean shipping sector appeared to shift supply chain routes toward the East Coast. The neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., which handle the largest volume of container cargo among U.S. ports, reported a total of 749,645 loaded inbound 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a standard measure for container cargo, last month. That was a 2.5% increase over the same period last year, pulling back after year-over-year surges of 26% and 12% in March and April.

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