Western Energy News is one of five regional services published by the Energy News Network. Today’s edition was compiled by Jonathan Thompson.

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UTILITIES:
Pacific Gas & Electric avoids criminal charges for its role in sparking last year’s Dixie Fire and the 2019 Kincade Fire by agreeing to pay $55 million in civil penalties and payments to local nonprofits and educational institutions. (Los Angeles Times)
California regulators fine SoCalGas $150,000 for using ratepayer funds to oppose stricter energy efficiency rules even though public advocates recommended a $255 million penalty. (Utility Dive) 

GRID:
High winds and wet, heavy snow damage utility lines in Oregon and Washington, leaving 100,000 people without power. (Oregonian)
Pacific Gas & Electric launches a pilot project to install up to 9,000 “smart” electric water heaters that pre-heat water and store it for use when the grid is overloaded. (Canary Media)
California regulators allocate $40 million to incentivize purchases of electric heat pump water heaters, on top of a previous $44.7 million. (Utility Dive)

STORAGE:
• The developer of three large-scale battery storage systems in southern California says pandemic-related supply chain constraints will delay the project’s completion. (Energy Storage News)
Colorado researchers explore using depleted oil wells for energy storage by injecting them with compressed gas and then releasing it to spin a turbine. (news release)

SOLAR: Researchers say San Diego will need to blanket inland agricultural areas with solar panels to hit its emissions-reduction targets, but some farmers are resistant to selling their land. (Voice of San Diego) 

HYDROPOWER: State regulators fine Idaho Power $1.5 million for unpermitted pollution at 15 hydroelectricity facilities in the southern part of the state. (Boise State Public Radio) 

OIL & GAS:
A federal court rejects Wyoming environmentalists’ bid to halt a 3,500-well oil and gas drilling project in a critical wildlife migration corridor. (WyoFile)
• Alaska lawmakers approve a $1,300 energy relief payment to residents, in addition to a $1,250 dividend from the state’s oil and gas fund. (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
Wyoming’s oil and gas industry has added 900 jobs during the last 12 months, but employment numbers still fall short of pre-pandemic totals. (Oil City News)   
• Hawaii officials plan to install eight monitoring wells around the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill fuel tanks to track groundwater contamination from the facility. (Honolulu Civil Beat) 

COAL:
• Wyoming’s coal mines add 300 employees to keep up with increasing demand driven by high natural gas prices. (Cowboy State Daily)   
Wyoming researchers develop a coal-derived crop fertilizer that could be used in place of more expensive biochar. (Wyoming News Now)   

NUCLEAR: A California startup proposes storing spent nuclear reactor fuel in mile-deep boreholes constructed using oil and gas horizontal drilling techniques. (Brattleboro Reformer)

TRANSPORTATION:
An audit finds a dozen new electric vehicles owned by the city of Los Angeles sat unused for two years because the city lacked proper charging infrastructure. (LAist)   
Oregon transit agencies expect to receive $153 million in federal funding this year, much of which will fill budget gaps from pandemic-related ridership slumps. (Oregonian)

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Jonathan P. Thompson

Jonathan hails from southwestern Colorado and has been writing about the land, cultures, and communities of the Western United States for more than two decades. He compiles the Western Energy News digest. He is the author of three books, a contributing editor at High Country News, and the editor of the Land Desk, an e-newsletter that provides coverage and context on issues critical to the West.