In the Assembly, Paul Krekorian (D-Glendale) is pushing ambitious legislation, AB 64, which calls on both publicly- and investor-owned utilities to reach a 35 percent renewable energy level by 2020. It would expand the use of \u201cfeed-in\u201d tariffs and create a new authority to streamline the siting process for transmission lines to bring renewable power from remote areas into cities that could even build and operate lines if need be. \u201cCalifornia is uniquely situated right now to obtain global leadership in the renewable energy field,\u201d Krekorian told Circuit March 19. \u201cWe have every advantage.\u201d AB 64 is coauthored by Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and is similar to legislation moving in the state Senate, SB 14. The Glendale Democrat, who chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Renewable Energy, said his bill has a \u201cterrific\u201d outlook because legislative leaders in both chambers, as well as the governor, support increasing the state\u2019s renewable energy portfolio standard from the existing 20 percent requirement in 2010. With its money for renewable energy, the federal economic stimulus bill adds more impetus. \u201cThis is an opportunity we cannot miss,\u201d Krekorian exclaimed. A legislative aide said that although many energy bills are pending, increasing the renewable energy standard likely will be the key focus for lawmakers in Sacramento this year. An aide to Bass agreed that renewable energy is a chief priority. In addition to the 35 percent requirement in 2020, AB 64 sets an interim green power standard of 25 percent in 2015 and a long-range goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2035. To reach such levels, Krekorian said the key task for lawmakers is to remove barriers to developing renewable energy to unleash its environmental and economic benefits. \u201cThe single biggest barrier,\u201d he said, \u201cis the lack of transmission infrastructure.\u201d Krekorian said his bill would create what he called \u201ca one-stop shop\u201d for approving renewable energy transmission projects in California. It would reduce what now is ten years that typically transpire between when projects are proposed and ultimately built. The measure would create a new state office known as the Renewables Infrastructure Authority, which would have a nine-member board including the heads of the state\u2019s existing major energy agencies. The authority would designate renewable energy zones within California and assume authority for permitting transmission from those areas into the grid. The authority would have the power of imminent domain. It also would be able to raise $6.4 billion in revenue bonds in order to build renewable power generating projects or transmission lines to move renewable energy. The authority could own and operate the lines, paying off the bonds with proceeds from an energy transmission tariff. It also could build the lines and then sell them to utilities to pay off the bonds or enter into joint venture arrangements. \u201cI\u2019m not wedded to any one particular approach for how to achieve the end result,\u201d Krekorian said, acknowledging that the governor has outlined a different strategy in his energy agency reorganization proposal and that other ideas abound. \u201cI\u2019m open to all those ideas,\u201d he said, \u201cbut the time must be reduced.\u201d AB 64 also would require utilities to offer feed-in tariffs from renewable energy projects with generating capacities of up to 5 MW. The cumulative capacity of facilities eligible for the tariff from investor-owned utilities would be capped at 500 MW. The cumulative capacity of facilities eligible for the tariff from publicly owned utilities would be capped at 250 MW. The goal of the provision is to simplify renewable energy sales deals, cut the paperwork load for regulators, and create \u201cpredictability for investors\u201d by specifying that utilities must purchase energy from projects at a set rate over the long term. The bill would specify the specific payments to generators for terms of up to 20 years. As the legislation moves, Krekorian said it may be amended to raise the size of projects eligible for the tariff. He added that developing price criteria for feed-in tariffs will take additional time. Prices must be set, he said, to make sure utility customers are not overpaying for renewable power, but also so project developers are not underpaid. At a hearing of the select committee March 18, California Public Utilities Commission energy division director Julie Fitch said that the most difficult aspect of developing a feed-in tariff is determining the price for power. AB 64 also would allow utilities to meet part of their green energy standard requirement by purchasing renewable energy credits generated out of state. Krekorian emphasized that allowing the credits would give utilities some flexibility in complying with the ambitious standard and help contain the cost of power. However, he said he believed the bulk of the green power should be generated in California so the state can capture the benefits, including new jobs and economic development and cleaner air. Instate generation also will cut the need for long distance transmission lines, he said. His remarks were echoed at the select panel hearing by Scott Wetch, a labor lobbyist, who called the prospect of utilities using large amounts of out-of-state renewable energy credits to meet their green energy standard the equivalent of \u201cthe North American Free Trade Agreement\u201d for the building trades in California. It would compromise one of the original goals of the state\u2019s renewable energy portfolio standard, namely to create jobs and develop California\u2019s economy, he said.