WOODINVILLE, Wash. — Chateau Ste. Michelle has revealed the lineup for its 2023 Summer Concert Series.
The oldest winery in the Pacific Northwest put its 118-acre Woodinville property up for sale late last year. While there’s still no word on its long-term fate, the venue is set to host over 30 performances this summer.
Tickets are set to go on sale for the general public on Monday, April 3, but some shows are already sold out.
Here’s the complete lineup:
James Taylor – May 25 and 26 at 7 p.m. (SOLD OUT)
Backroads Blues Festival featuring Kenny Wayne Shepard and Joe Bonamassa with special guests – May 28 at 6 p.m.
Ringo Starr & his All-Starr Band – June 4 at 7 p.m.
Rodrigo Y Gabriela with very special guest Bahamas – June 8 at 7 p.m.
Elvis Costello & the Imposters with very special guest Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets – June 9 at 7 p.m.
Last Summer on Earth 2023: Barenaked Ladies with very special guests Semisonic and Del Amitri – June 18 at 6 p.m.
Whiskey Myers – June 21 at 6 p.m. (SOLD OUT)
Taj Mahal Quartet and Los Lobos with very special guest North Mississippi Allstars – June 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Kelsea Ballerini with very special guest Georgia Webster – June 24 at 7 p.m. (SOLD OUT)
Leftover Salmon with Railroad Earth and Yonder Mountain String Band – June 25 at 6:30 p.m.
Charlie Puth with very special guest Alexander Stewart – July 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Fitz and the Tantrums – July 8 at 7 p.m.
Diana Krall – July 9 at 7 p.m.
Jason Mraz and His Superband – July 14 and 15 at 7 p.m.
Lyle Lovett and his Large Band with very special guest Shawn Colvin – July 16 at 7 p.m.
Sheryl Crow – July 20 at 7 p.m.
Trampled By Turtles with very special guest Amigo The Devil – July 21 at 6 p.m.
Gary Clark Jr. – July 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.
Trombone Shorty with Ziggy Marley with Mavis Staples and Robert Randolph – July 27 and 30 at 5:45 p.m.
Tori Amos – July 28 at 7 p.m.
RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles – July 29 at 7 p.m.
Amos Lee Preservation Hall Jazz Band – August 2 at 7 p.m.
Michael Franti & Spearhead with very special guest SOJA – August 4 at 6 p.m.
Regina Spektor – August 5 at 7 p.m.
The Australian Pink Floyd Show – August 6 at 7 p.m.
Gipsy Kings featuring Nicolas Reyes – August 20 at 7 p.m.
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová of The Swell Season – August 23 at 6:30 p.m.
Pink Martini featuring China Forbes – August 27 at 7 p.m.
Lindsey Stirling with very special guest Walk off the Earth – August 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Goo Goo Dolls with very special guest O.A.R. – September 2 and 3 at 6:30 p.m.
Steve Miller Band – September 15 at 7 p.m.
Counting Crows with very special guest Dashboard Confessional – September 16 and 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Natalie Merchant – September 22 at 7 p.m.
Tickets for all newly-announced shows go on sale Monday, April 3 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time. For more details on seating options, visit the Chateau Ste. Michelle website.
Eric Clapton is perhaps one of the most respected and influential guitarists ever. His musical tenure in the 1960s and 1970s was one of the blossom periods when western music exploded and was appreciated worldwide. With his illumination career of five decades in this industry, Eric Clapton became the ‘God’ of blues music. Clapton released many albums and singles throughout his musical career and performed at various iconic stages and concerts.
Eric Clapton, one of the most influential guitarists of all time, started his musical journey at an early age. He joined his first-ever band British R&B group, the Roosters, when he was just 17 years old. The peak time of his career was when he joined the Yardbirds and Bluebreakers, where he got worldwide recognition.
Later in the 1960s and early 1970s, Clapton launched many successful bands like Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek & The Dominos. It was the mid-1970s when Clapton embarked on his solo musical journey.
His solo works were also absolute hits, including Slowhands, 461 Ocean, No Reason To Cry, Boulevard, and There’s One In Every Crowd. These kinds of music have distinctive blends of blues, rock, and pop domination in them.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, he was actively collaborating with diverse music artists and experimenting with various genres of music. He was involved in various personal issues like addictions during this phase of life.
One of the most tragic events of his life was when his four-year-old son died after falling from the 53rd-floor building. He expressed his grief through the song “Tears in Heaven,” dedicated to his late son.
Though these setbacks were huge, they didn’t stop Clapton from creating the hits. Tears in Heaven and Layla were hits among his fans from all around the world. He is one of the most influential musicians in the rock and blues genre. This also sets his legacy, which continues to inspire generations of musicians.
Eric Clapton and His Journey with the Yardbirds:
Eric Clapton’s time with The Yardbirds was a pivotalperiod in his early career as a guitarist. He joined the band in 1963 and remained with them for about two years before leaving. Clapton’s guitar-playing style became the band’s signature during his time with The Yardbirds.
He brought blues influence to their music, playing with intensity and style. This also made him very popular and one of the most stylish guitarists in the United Kingdom.
Clapton’s contribution to The Yardbirds’ first two compendiums, Five Live Yardbirds and For Your Love, helpedestablish the band as a major force in the British music scene. The conflict between the band and Clapton started to surface after the hit “For Your Love,”, particularly over their shift towards a moremarketable sound. After he departed from the band, Jeff Beck replaced him as the lead guitarist.
Why did Eric Clapton leave the Yardbirds?
Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds performing together on Layla.
Eric Clapton gave many hits during his short tenure of two years with the band, including “For Your Love.” He left the band in 1965, leaving the band without a lead guitarist—musical differences from the other band members.
Clapton was a blues extremist who wanted to play a more traditional blues style. At the same time, the Yardbirds were moving towards a more experimental and psychedelic sound.
Clapton was also getting increasingly frustrated with the band’s commercial success. He felt their new direction was sacrificing their authenticity as a blues band. He ultimately decided to leave the Yardbirds and join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, where he felt he could play the kind of blues he wanted.
Clapton’s departure from the Yardbirds was a significant loss for the band as he was the songwriter and only guitarist. However, the Yardbirds also helped him to establish himself as one of the most influential guitarists in music history.
Warner Chappell Music has renewed its global publishing deal with producer Marco “MAG” Borrero. A frequent Bad Bunny collaborator, MAG produced 15 of the 23 tracks on the blockbuster album “Un Verano Sin Ti,” which led to his 2022 Variety Hitmakers honor and his No. 1 position on Billboard’s Year-End Hot Latin Song Producers chart. “Un Verano Sin Ti” became the first all-Spanish album to top the year-end Billboard 200 chart as well as earn a nomination for Album of the Year Grammy award.
The Brooklyn-born, Puerto Rican-Dominican producer was mentored by Max Martin — the most successful songwriter-producer of the past 25 years — and over the course of his career has also collaborated with Rauw Alejandro, Arcángel, Bebe Rexha, Imagine Dragons, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato.
MAG said: “Guy, Ryan, Katy and the whole Warner Chappell team have been incredibly supportive over the past few years and I’m excited to continue building on our partnership.”
+ Cutting Edge Media Music, a financing and investment company specializing in music for film, television, video games and other media, has acquired the entire music catalog of the U.K.-based media company First Score Music Ltd.
The acquisition gives CEMM full master and publishing rights to over 75 scores, including films by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s Imaginarium Productions, which is in production on an animated version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” Also included in the acquisition is the film score for the upcoming Imaginarium/Searchlight film “Next Goal Wins,” with a score by Academy Award and Emmy-winner Michael Giacchino (“Up,” “The Incredibles,” “The Batman”), and directed by Academy Award-winner Taika Waititi (“JoJo Rabbit,” “Thor: Love and Thunder”).
The acquired catalog also includes film scores by world class composers such as Carter Burwell, Christophe Beck, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Volker Bertelmann, John Debney, Benjamin Wallfisch, Andrew Lockington, David Newman, Rachel Portman, Mychael Danna, Craig Armstrong, David Buckley and Harald Kloser.
“Imaginarium has a great creative and commercial relationship with Cutting Edge,” said Imaginarium’s Cavendish. Serkis added, “It is incredibly important for us to have partners in the musical sphere who are as knowledgeable, creative and clever as Cutting Edge’s Philip Moross and Tara Finnegan.”
CEMM was represented in the transaction by Tim Hegarty, the head of mergers and acquisitions for parent company Cutting Edge Group.
+ ASCAP President and Chairman of the Board Paul Williams announced organization’s 12 writer and 12 publisher members elected to serve on its board of directors for a two-year term beginning April 1, 2023. In addition to Williams, the writer members who were re-elected in the at-large field are: composer/songwriter Jon Batiste; composer Richard Bellis; composer Bruce Broughton; songwriter/producer Desmond Child; composer Sharon Farber; Writer Vice Chair composer Dan Foliart; songwriter/composer Michelle Lewis; composer/producer Marcus Miller; songwriter Jimmy Webb; and composer Doug Wood. Composer Alex Shapiro was re-elected in the Symphonic and Concert field.
Newly elected as a publisher director is Jon Singer, Spirit Music. The publisher directors re-elected in the at-large field are: Peter Brodsky, Sony Music Publishing; Bob Bruderman, Kobalt; Marti Cuevas, Mayimba Music; Keith Hauprich, BMG US; Dean Kay, Lichelle Music Company; Evan Lamberg, Universal Music Publishing Group; Leeds Levy, Leeds Music; Carianne Marshall, Warner Chappell Music; Mary Megan Peer, peermusic; and Publisher Vice Chair Irwin Z. Robinson, Cromwell Music, Inc. James M. Kendrick, European American Music, was re-elected in the Symphonic and Concert field.
The definitive list of the bestselling albums globally in 2022 has been released, and the No. 1 title is owned by an act that might surprise many…at least those who don’t reside in Asia.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has announced the world’s top-selling albums of 2022 in an annual rundown released on social media by the organization. Sitting pretty atop the ranking is Jay Chou’s Greatest Works of Art.
Although actual sales figures were not released by the IFPI, online sources indicate that the album sold over 7.2 million copies. That’s a serious accomplishment in a world where streaming dominates and sales have largely fallen by the wayside as platforms like Spotify and Apple AAPL Music make accessing music easier than ever.
Unlike many album charts, the IFPI’s list only takes into account pure purchases, as opposed to those releases that were the most consumed, which would also take streaming sums into consideration. However, those albums that perform exceptionally in one metric often do fairly well in others as well.
Greatest Works of Art was especially popular in Chou’s home country of Taiwan, where the vast majority of purchases came from. Although the CD charted internationally, it didn’t achieve the same level of success as it did in the Asian nation.
Chou had been promoting the album for years, releasing occasional singles leading up to its release. Greatest Works of Art is Chou’s first full-length release in six years.
For those who don’t know, Chou is a major star in Asia and has been releasing music since 2000. In addition to his singles and albums, he has also worked in TV and film as a judge and an actor.
Ranking just below Chou’s global success were nine other blockbuster sellers present on the IFPI’s list. K-pop groups BTS, Seventeen, and Blackpink all made the list, as well as Taylor Swift. Greatest Works of Art outperformed them all, but by exactly how much isn’t clear.
Former VAN HALEN bassist Michael Anthony performed at a fundraising event and concert benefiting Save The Heartbeat this past Saturday (March 25) at Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa, California. Joining him on stage at the event were Phil X (BON JOVI),Sammy Hagar (VAN HALEN, THE CIRCLE),Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (GUNS N’ ROSES) and John 5 (MÖTLEY CRÜE),among other musicians. Fan-filmed video of the concert can be seen below.
Save The Heartbeat is a non-profit organization that benefits those that are affected by congenital heart disease (CHD). Danielle and Jonathan Maloof started this charity after their son Remington was born with an undiagnosed congenital heart defect in 2013.
Back in April 2017, Michael announced the loss of his two-week-old grandson, who died of heart disease earlier that month.
The musician opened up about the death of little Rex Becerra, the son of his eldest daughter, Elisha, in a Facebook post.
“I recently lost my grandson Rex after turning just two weeks and one day old. We are tremendously proud of Rex,” he wrote at the time. “In the short time on earth he left a lasting impression that our family will cherish.”
The family opened up about the death in a fundraising page with the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, noting that the boy was “quickly diagnosed with Heart Disease” after his birth on March 20, 2017.
“Within 9 hours of birth he was transported to two hospitals and ultimately landed at Children’s Hospital LA where he underwent open heart surgery,” the family wrote on the page.
They wrote that although the surgery was successful, little Rex never recovered from the procedure. He passed away on April 4, 2017, according to the page.
VAN HALEN and Anthony had not been on good terms for more than a decade prior to guitarist Eddie Van Halen‘s death in October 2020, with Anthony not invited to join the reunion with singer David Lee Roth that began in 2007. The subsequent two tours and studio album, “A Different Kind Of Truth”, featured Eddie‘s son Wolfgang on bass.
Anthony took a pay cut and signed away all of his rights to the band name and logo in order to participate in VAN HALEN‘s 2004 tour, which featured singer Sammy Hagar.
Meanwhile back at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa… Newport Beach resident Michael Anthony throws down some jams at a benefit concert
Madonna has announced a benefit concert in Nashville, joining the outcry against Tennessee’s new law that criminalizes drag performances in public places and anywhere children are present. Bob the Drag Queen, who’s slated to join the singer throughout her forthcoming Celebration Tour, will accompany Madonna for the concert. Benefiting as yet unnamed trans rights organizations, the show happens December 22 at Bridgestone Arena, with the anti-drag law taking effect on April 1.
In a press release, Madonna shared a brief statement about her decision to add the Nashville stop:
The oppression of the LGBTQ+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane; it’s creating an unsafe environment; it makes America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of color. Also, these so-called laws to protect our children are unfounded and pathetic. Anyone with half a brain knows not to fuck with a drag queen. Bob and I will see you from the stage in Nashville where we will celebrate the beauty that is the queer community.
Earlier this month, Brittany Howard, Sheryl Crow, Hayley Williams, Jason Isbell, and more joined forces for Love Rising, a benefit concert that raised money for multiple LGBTQIA+ organizations. Yo La Tengo staged their own protest at the Basement East, with Ira Kaplan donning a dress, wig, and makeup for a set. Madonna’s Celebration Tour through North America and Europe kicks off in July, and Madonna extended the run with a few more dates for late 2023 and early 2024.
Read Pitchfork’s Sunday Review of Madonna’s 2000 album, Music.
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STATELINE, Nev. – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Sammy Hagar & The Circle is coming to the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys on July 14, 2023.
They are the latest act to book for the popular outdoor series. They come during the American Century Championship at Edgewood which is held July 12-16, 2023.
The Red Rocker, singer and guitarist, is back in concert and touring around the country this summer. The multi-platinum member of the Rock and Roll Hall, the outgoing, bombastic frontman of hard rock champions Van Halen first burst on the scene from San Francisco as the lead vocalist of Montrose, whose “Rock Candy” has gone on to become a certified rock classic.
He is no stranger to Lake Tahoe both on the stage and as the owner of Cabo Wabo, which was in Harveys for years, featuring his tequila named after the Cabo Wabo Cantina he founded in Mexico.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle will be releasing their debut album of original material, titled “Space Between,” set for release on May 10 through BMG. Formed in 2014, the acclaimed supergroup features Hagar, bassist Michael Anthony, drummer Jason Bonham, and guitarist Vic Johnson, have quickly established themselves as one of the most emphatic and exciting live acts on the road today, seamlessly ripping through career-spanning hits from Montrose, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar and The Waboritas and Led Zeppelin.
Tickets go on sale to the public Friday, Mar 31 @ 10 a.m. PDT.
Caesars Rewards presale Thursday, March 20 at 10 a.m. with code “Blue.” Other presale opportunities too.
Last November, in a vast conference hall at a Marriott hotel in New Orleans, utility executive Kim Greene took the stage. Greene, the CEO of Southern Company, a Georgia-based conglomerate that owns gas and electric utilities across six states, was the first to speak on a panel titled “The Role for Natural Gas in America’s Clean Energy Future.”
“Natural gas is foundational to America’s clean energy future,” she started, before proceeding to tell the audience about the nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipelines that deliver gas to 187 million Americans and 5.5 million businesses. “These customers are depending on our energy every day,” she said. “So as we look to the clean energy future, the most practical, realistic way to achieve a sustainable future where energy is clean, safe, reliable, resilient, and affordable, is to ensure that includes natural gas.”
The statement, with its head-scratching, circular logic, may sound aimed at an audience of oil and gas industry executives, or perhaps an earnings call. But the seats were filled with utility commissioners — the state-level public servants who regulate gas, electric, water, and telecommunications companies. The panel was the centerpiece event for the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, or NARUC. And Greene was hardly the only industry representative there to lecture on the bright future for natural gas.
The conference provided a glimpse into the collegial relationship utility regulators have with the companies they are charged with regulating on behalf of the public, and the way the natural gas industry is working that relationship to shape how the country moves toward its climate goals. Public utility commissioners hold significant sway over the storied clean energy future. They help decide what energy infrastructure gets built, and when. If a utility wants to raise rates to invest in new power plants, transmission lines, or pipelines, it’s up to these powerful panels to determine whether such multimillion-dollar, long-lived projects are necessary, and how much a company can profit off of them. That means commissioners are not only shaping the energy transition, but determining what it means for utilities and their bottom lines.
At the time of the conference, the industry was scrambling to adapt to new circumstances. President Biden had signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August, making hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies available for clean energy over the coming decade and threatening some utility business models that rely on fossil fuels. Electric companies were staring down the prospect of having to reevaluate the cost assumptions underpinning their capital spending plans, which in many cases include building new natural gas power plants. Natural gas companies faced an existential crisis. The growing push to electrify buildings, and new federal and state incentives that support the shift, could lead to greatly reduced demand for their product. In 2022, U.S. shipments of electric heating systems called heat pumps outnumbered those of gas furnaces for the first time.Some commissions that once approved natural gas projects without hesitation were now bringing more scrutiny to proposals following new state policies requiring rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A handful had even launched investigations into the future of natural gas, tribunals where gas companies were being put on the stand to show how they could evolve to comply with state climate goals. Plus, soaring natural gas prices related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were highlighting the risks of continuing to rely on the fuel.
All of that was surely on utility executives’ minds when they sent a small army of missionaries to the NARUC meeting. The annual conference is hosted by and for utility commissioners, and the sessions in November covered a range of topics, from how to make sure funding from the Inflation Reduction Act benefits low-income customers to planning for the expansion of electric vehicle charging and clean energy storage systems. Those were in addition to at least half a dozen sessions about natural gas. On the conference attendee list, commissioners were outnumbered by people from the gas and electric companies they regulate.
The lobbying effort began almost immediately upon arrival; the conference Wi-Fi password was “committed2clean,” a marketing slogan used by the Edison Electric Institute, the largest trade organization for electric utilities. (Regina Davis, the assistant executive director for NARUC, said the group had the opportunity to set the password as a top sponsor of the conference, and that the organization “did not hear of any complaints concerning the password.”) The American Gas Association, Edison’s counterpart for gas utilities, also sponsored the conference, though they shared the bill with a number of other trade groups that represent renewable energy and nuclear companies.
Industry executives sat on panels and threw parties. The four-day event’s theme was “Connecting the Dots: Innovative/Disruptive Technology and Regulation,” and company representatives worked to convince regulators that they are innovating and disrupting — but that ultimately, the energy systems of the future should look a lot like the energy systems of today.
The Edison Electric Institute and the American Gas Association, the largest trade organizations for electric utilities and gas utilities, respectively, were among the sponsors of the conference. Emily Pontecorvo / Grist
“One hundred and eighty seven million Americans use natural gas in their homes today, that’s more people than voted in Tuesday’s election,” Karen Harbert, the executive director of the American Gas Association, said during a discussion about investor expectations and natural gas. “We’re growing one customer every minute of every day.”
Industry representatives like Harbert often linked the idea that natural gas is essential to a clean energy future with another, seemingly conflicting point — that companies plan to replace natural gas with lower-carbon fuels down the line. The industry is investing in reducing methane emissions from leaking infrastructure in the near term, Harbert said, but “also innovating and delivering new technologies and new fuels through our existing 2.7 million miles of pipeline.”
Harbert and other speakers described using those pipelines to deliver increasing amounts of “renewable natural gas,” a label for methane diverted from landfills and animal feedlots, as well as hydrogen, a gaseous fuel that does not produce CO2 when burned. But she noted that such efforts to cut emissions are “not cheap” and told commissioners utilities “need to be able to get rate recovery on some of the innovation that we are investing in.” In other words, customers should help pay for this experimentation.
During most of the sessions focused on natural gas, none of the panelists chimed in to acknowledge that continuing to burn natural gas will worsen climate change, whether or not methane leaks are reduced. Left unsaid were the reasons many environmental justice and clean energy groups remain skeptical of plans to pursue renewable natural gas and hydrogen, including concerns that they could cost more than other options and perpetuate pollution without meaningfully reducing emissions.
“We respectfully and vehemently disagree with the characterization that our meetings are not open to varied perspectives,” Davis, the NARUC spokesperson, told Grist. “We make a concerted effort to invite diverse perspectives and include representation from consumer/environmental and other constituencies relevant to NARUC’s membership.”
Davis highlighted, among other events, one unique panel that brought critical questions about the future of natural gas to the fore. It featured participants in a series of workshops held in 2021 by the clean energy research nonprofit RMI, which is known for its building electrification advocacy, and National Grid, a gas and electric utility that operates in Massachusetts and New York. They brought together staff from other energy companies and environmental groups — those typically pitted against each other in utility commission proceedings — in an attempt to build trust and find common ground.
The goal was to discuss some of the many potential challenges to cutting emissions from the natural gas system. For example, as homeowners who can afford to switch to electric appliances do so, the shrinking pool of remaining natural gas customers could be left footing the bill for maintaining 2.7 million miles of pipelines, as well as any experiments with lower-carbon fuels that gas companies pump through them.
“There are so many questions and challenges that are unclear, and even controversies and conflicts about what the vision is for the path forward,” Mike Henchen, a principal at RMI, said during his opening remarks about the project. “We wanted to work across that difference in a collaborative, constructive way to see what we have in common and where we can find guiding principles.”
But the panel’s optimistic title, “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work,” did not exactly bear out. Henchen spoke candidly about tensions during the workshops, noting that even words like “transition” had been unexpectedly loaded. He said the participants decided not to examine data together because each interpreted it differently, and it only served to highlight divisions. Ultimately, many points of agreement came down to boilerplate principles like “affordability” and “comprehensive system planning.”
Still, Henchen was proud of the work as a starting place. He contrasted it with the discussions about natural gas that pervaded the conference. “I see words like, ‘natural gas is an unstoppable workhorse,’ and that ‘the industry has reduced its carbon footprints,'” he said. “These kinds of talking points, I feel like we need to get past them.” He looked out at the commissioners in the audience and asked for their help. “This transition is underway, the path is not yet written, and I look forward to your leadership in helping us move it forward.”
But while commissioners will undoubtedly be key players in this transition, another session — a commissioner-led discussion about soaring winter energy costs for consumers — indicated that many of these officials don’t exactly see themselves as being in a position of power.
The conversation began with a bit of recent history from Eric Blank, the chair of the Colorado Public Service Commission. First, he said, the price of natural gas shot up when the pandemic began to wind down, driving up gas and electricity bills. It spiked again after Russia invaded Ukraine. And costs incurred during a brutal 2021 ice storm were piling on top of high gas prices, while people in Colorado were also still paying for system upgrades their utilities had made over the last decade.
“People are hurting, and we’re struggling to figure out what to do. I’m looking forward to seeing if anyone has any solutions,” Blank said, letting out a laugh that suggested he didn’t have high expectations.
Utility commissioners generally have a mandate to secure reliable services for residents and businesses at “just and reasonable” rates. What counts as “just and reasonable,” a standard phrase written into many state laws, is often debated. But it was clear the commissioners felt that between inflation and the war, forces out of their control were putting it out of reach.
Few offered Blank solutions. Instead, the session began to resemble group therapy. Abigail Anthony, a commissioner in Rhode Island, said her state had some programs to help low-income residents, but most customers there were going to see a 45 percent increase this winter. “Nothing prepares people for seeing that.”
“It’s gonna be an ugly time for ratepayers in Georgia,” said Georgia Public Service commissioner Tim Echols, who worried aloud about his reelection in 2023. “We just approved another six natural gas plants. We haven’t hedged as much as you guys have,” he said. “I wish we had.”
Michael Richard, a commissioner in Maryland, nodded toward his state’s renewable energy goals as a potential future lifeline. “That may not have a lot of impact or benefits for this coming year,” he said, “But as we look to increasing electrification and renewable energy in the state, that hopefully will begin to have some positive impact on prices.”
As the commissioners in the room resigned themselves, however reluctantly, to the price volatility of an energy system that’s hooked on natural gas, just outside the room, powerful forces were working to keep it that way. According to David Pomerantz, the executive director of the nonprofit Energy and Policy Institute, these two stories were related.
“I think they’re wrong that there’s not that much they can do,” he told Grist. “It sort of reflects what I would call a failure of imagination in the regulatory community. That’s a hallmark of regulatory capture.”
The Energy and Policy Institute acts as a watchdog of utilities, and has documented the many scandalous ways they try to maintain a grip on regulators and policymakers, such as by offering them bribes or supporting advocacy organizations that appear independent but are backed by corporate interests. But here he was alluding to a more subtle form of influence: the way utilities control the information environment that commissions operate in, creating an atmosphere where it feels like they are the only ones with the answers.
For example, rate cases, in which utilities lay out their capital spending plans and request rate increases, are hard to engage in, let alone follow, without expertise. Many states have a consumer advocate’s office that weighs in; in many cases, nonprofit advocacy groups attend hearings, submit comments, and hire experts to help them analyze utility proposals. But utilities hold tightly onto the system data that underlie those proposals, limiting the ability of commissioners or outside parties to question them or offer credible alternatives. When utilities claim a proposal is good or bad for safety or reliability, it’s hard for anyone else to claim otherwise.
Pomerantz also said too many commissions are reactive, rather than proactive. “They don’t see themselves as setting policy. Their job is to take the cases that are handed to them by the utilities and adjudicate them, right?” he said. “But then the utility’s leading the dance on everything and the commission is just following. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
Davis, the NARUC spokesperson, stressed that commissioners are always looking for ways to increase affordability. “Passing through the commodity cost of natural gas to ratepayers is basically required by U.S. and state constitutional principles and is anything but a symptom of regulatory capture,” she told Grist. “State regulators do not have the luxury or freedom to simply be imaginative at will.”
But Pomerantz offered one possible solution, noting that commissions could require utilities’ shareholders to pay some of the cost of fuel for electricity generation, rather than passing 100 percent of it onto customers, which would not only improve affordability but create an incentive to transition away from fossil fuels. One commission in Hawaii has already implemented a program like this.
To be fair, commissioners occupy an awkward position in the energy transition. They are not technically policymakers, though some commissioners are democratically elected. “In a nutshell, commissions must implement the policies of their states,” said Davis. “Any overreach in their authority will likely result in an action by the courts.” That means they must maintain the appearance of being nonpartisan implementers of the law. But within that implementation lie all kinds of decisions that resemble policy, with major implications for how swiftly, and justly, the transition plays out.
At NARUC’s annual meeting, the utilities were, in one very real sense, leading the dance. The American Gas Association regularly throws a party for the commissioners during the conference. The invitation for the “Big Easy Bash” stated, in three places, that the event was not sponsored by NARUC, nor was it “part of the 2022 NARUC Annual Meeting and Education Conference agenda” — though it did advise attendees to bring their NARUC meeting badge to gain entry.
The party was held at the House of Blues, a concert venue around the corner from the conference building. Bartenders passed out free drinks while a cover band roused the crowd with decade-hopping hits like “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire, and “Ride Wit Me” by Nelly. As everyone on the dance floor threw their hands in the air shouting, “Hey, must be the money!” TV screens around the venue cycled through an American Gas Association presentation. The slides contained statements like, “Somewhere in the U.S. a home or business is signing up for natural gas service at this moment,” and “America’s natural gas utilities are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through smart innovation” under headings like “Natural Gas is Essential for Improving our Environment.”
Once upon a time, there may have been a stronger case for the deference commissions show utilities, said Pomerantz. A decade or two ago, the utilities had technical tools and expertise that no one else did. That’s no longer the case.
“Utilities might have a monopoly on the distribution grid, but they don’t have a monopoly on ideas and information,” he said. “So it’s great for them to have a healthy relationship with regulators, but regulators should also have healthy relationships with a host of other parties who also have good ideas, and who frankly aren’t motivated by, you know, profits.”
The day after teasing new music, three-time Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson revealed she’ll be heading to Las Vegas this summer to perform a 10-date residency at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater.
‘It’s happening, y’all! I’m so excited to announce that I’m finally heading to Las Vegas for 10 shows this summer!’ the 40-year-old Texan pop powerhouse – who boasts 36.6M social media followers – wrote on Monday.
‘I’ll be singing all of your favorites… and yes, I’ll be singing some new ones, too!’
Tickets for Chemistry: An Intimate Night with Kelly Clarkson – which runs July 28-August 19 – go on sale starting this Friday at 10am PST through Ticketmaster.
It marks Kelly’s first major concerts since her 28-date, $17.5M-grossing tour Meaning of Life in 2019.
‘It’s happening, y’all’ The day after teasing new music, three-time Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson revealed she’ll be heading to Las Vegas this summer to perform a 10-date residency at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater
The 40-year-old Texan pop powerhouse wrote on Monday: ‘I’m so excited to announce that I’m finally heading to Las Vegas for 10 shows this summer! I’ll be singing all of your favorites… and yes, I’ll be singing some new ones, too!’
But fans will get a chance to hear Clarkson’s distinctive three-octave soprano pipes sooner than later as her first single off her 10th studio album Chemistry is imminent.
‘When I say soon, I mean really soon,’ the original American Idol champ teased on Sunday.
Rumored track titles on Kelly’s next record include Chemistry, Raw Cuts, Rock Hudson, and Red Flag Collector.
Clarkson penned much of Chemistry about her seven-year marriage to Brandon Blackstock, which acrimoniously ended one year ago.
‘I didn’t want everybody to think I was coming out with like “I’m angry, I’m sad” – like just one or two emotions,’ the Don’t Fence Me In songstress explained.
‘This album is definitely an arc of an entire relationship, you know? And a whole relationship shouldn’t just be brought down to one thing.
‘So there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly kind of thing going on in it. But anyway, chemistry can be an amazing sexy cool fun thing, but it can also be very bad for you.’
Kelly pays her 46-year-old ex-manager $115K per month in spousal support (which ends in January 2024) and $45,600 a month in child support despite him having their daughter River, 8; and son Remington, 6; only one weekend a month – according to TMZ.
Runs July 28-August 19! Tickets for Chemistry: An Intimate Night with Kelly Clarkson go on sale starting this Friday at 10am PST through Ticketmaster
‘When I say soon, I mean really soon!’ But fans will get a chance to hear Kelly’s distinctive three-octave soprano pipes sooner than later as her first single off her 10th studio album Chemistry is imminent (pictured Sunday)
Clarkson penned much of Chemistry about her seven-year marriage to Brandon Blackstock (L, pictured in 2020), which acrimoniously ended one year ago
The original American Idol champ explained: ‘I didn’t want everybody to think I was coming out with like “I’m angry, I’m sad” – like just one or two emotions. This album is definitely an arc of en entire relationship, you know? And a whole relationship shouldn’t just be brought down to one thing. So there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly kind of thing going on in it. But anyway, chemistry can be an amazing sexy cool fun thing, but it can also be very bad for you’
Costly split: Kelly pays her 46-year-old ex-manager $115K per month in spousal support (which ends in January 2024) and $45,600 a month in child support despite him having their daughter River, 8; and son Remington, 6; only one weekend a month (pictured in 2021)
Aspiring rancher: Clarkson also paid Brandon – whom she met through his famous former stepmother Reba McEntire – an eye-popping $1.3M divorce settlement (pictured in 2020)
Clarkson also paid Brandon – whom she met through his famous former stepmother Reba McEntire – an eye-popping $1.3M divorce settlement.
The aspiring rancher and rodeo sponsor – who earns $10K/month – also fathered daughter Savannah, 21; and son Seth, 16; from his 11-year marriage to Melissa Ashworth.
The four-time Voice champ currently coaches the 23rd season of singing competition The Voice, which airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.
Kelly is also the executive producer and Daytime Emmy-winning host of her own weekday talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show – which features Jeff Goldblum, Chase Stokes, and Megan Piphus on Monday’s episode.
‘The Battles Premiere’: The four-time Voice champ currently coaches the 23rd season of singing competition The Voice, which airs Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC
Kellyoke queen! Kelly is also the executive producer and Daytime Emmy-winning host of her own weekday talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show – which features Jeff Goldblum (2-L), Chase Stokes (L), and Megan Piphus (2-R) on Monday’s episode