The second PG&E bankruptcy was precipitated by climate change but also by historic patterns and practices of the investor owned utility as well as California land use and energy policy. Moving past the bankruptcy, California electricity providers will face a more challenging environment where costs are newly paramount and progress on clean energy goals will have to be achieved even as the grid goes through a necessary cycle of investment and revitalization. All of this must be acheived while maintaining reliability as renewables provide an unprecedented share of total electricity. Getting the policy and investment mix right will be particularly important given the structure of PG&E's reorganization and the consequent risks for future ratepayers and the state of large catastrophic wildfires. Looming behind all of this is the very real possibility of a third bankruptcy and a transition to a public ownership model. There is very little margin for error as the State seeks to achieve greater building and transportation electrification in pursuit of its 2030 and 2045 climate goals. It’s a tremendous challenge that will not be achieved without profound innovation in energy technologies and service models.
Speaker bio:Michael Wara is a lawyer and scholar focused on climate and energy policy. He is Director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program and a senior research scholar at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, where he provides fact-based, bipartisan, technical and legal assistance to policymakers engaged in the development of novel climate and energy law and regulation. He also facilitates the connection of Stanford faculty with cutting edge policy debates on climate and energy, leveraging Stanford’s energy and climate expertise to craft real world solutions to these challenges.
Wara’s legal and policy scholarship focuses on carbon pricing, energy innovation, and regulated industries. He collaborates with economists, engineers and scientists in research on the design and evaluation of technical and regulatory solutions to climate and energy challenges. He is also an expert on international environmental law with a particular focus on the ozone and climate treaty regimes.
Free and open to all.