Live Energy Bills & Ones on Life Support

23 Aug 2018

Bills to move to 100 percent greenhouse gas-free power and to grow energy storage in California are close the finish line. But, legislation to open up direct access was gutted and is unlikely to be put to a vote.

SB 100, to require 100 percent carbon-free power in California by 2045, remains alive as lawmakers move to wind up their legislative session on Aug. 31.

The bill, which passed the state Senate, was amended on the Assembly floor Aug. 20, potentially clearing the way for a vote on the measure by Sen. Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles). The legislation has broad support from environmentalists and community choice aggregators.

An aide to De León told Current that a floor vote in the Assembly is expected next Monday or Tuesday. Subsequently, it would go to the Senate for concurrence given it’s been amended since last year’s  passage in that chamber.

SB 700 by Sen. Scot Wiener (D-San Francisco), to extend the self generation incentive program, providing about $140 million a year to advance energy storage systems to 2026, is expected to come up for a vote on the Assembly Floor next week.

Wiener said that extending the incentive program five years beyond its 2021 sunset date would add 2,000 MW to the existing 700 MW of storage and drive down costs on par with the 10-year rooftop solar subsidy.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s self generation program increased the amount of its annual subsidy from $83 million to $166 million in 2016 to help advance qualifying distributed energy technologies, with most of the money earmarked for storage. The minority of funds are to support wind turbines, waste-heat-to-power technologies, microturbines, and fuel cells.

SB 700 was recently amended to require that the energy storage systems receiving the subsidy be energy efficient and not increase greenhouse gases. It also would disallow distributed technologies that use nonrenewable fuels from reaping the SGIP subsidy as of Jan. 1, 2020.

A report by the CPUC found that the energy storage systems were charging at peak times, increasing emissions, and driving up costs. That was blamed on misaligned rate incentives.

Prospects for a another bill, which would require the investor-owned utilities to invest in 2,000 MW of additional energy storage, dimmed. Sen. Henry Stern’s SB 1347 has been unable to advance, being held in committee since Aug. 16.

A major energy bill, which would have opened the direct access door to non-residential customers also faces grim prospects. SB 237 by Sen. Bob Herzberg (D-Los Angeles) was virtually gutted. It was amended to require the California Public Utilities Commission to develop recommendations by June 2020 on whether to lift direct access restrictions, and if so, to what extent and over what time frame.

As of press time, Hertzberg had not sought a vote on his direct access measure.

SB 1369 by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), promoting development of hydrogen fuel for transportation uses electrolysis instead of natural gas reformation, awaits a floor vote. The legislation would test whether this technology can scale up.

Elizabeth McCarthy

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