In spite of fierce opposition from local agencies, legislation that would give the California Energy Commission authority to designate corridors for high-voltage lines in the state passed the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on a 10-0 vote April 5. SB 1059 by Senator Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) attempts to increase the odds of getting proposed transmission projects built. Escutia said if lawmakers fail to forge ahead on statewide transmission, "We will be forever shackled by bifurcated jurisdictions and NIMBY concerns, and not do what is needed." The committee chair acknowledged muni opposition because the legislation butts onto local land-use turf. She warned, however, "When the lights go out, no one will care who is responsible." Under the proposed legislation, the CEC would be allowed to preempt local land-use authority when picking transmission rights-of-way. The commission would be required to confer with affected cities, counties, federal agencies, and Native American tribes. The bill would also require local entities affected by a proposed high-voltage corridor to incorporate the project's environmental impact report into city and county general plans. The measure would "whipsaw local agencies," said Yvonne Hunter, League of California Cities lobbyist. If a local land-use plan is amended to accommodate the proposed transmission route as required and it is not built, will the general plan have to be subsequently revised? she asked. If so, who would be responsible for paying for the changes? The California Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Sempra support the bill as a means to coordinate and integrate grid planning across the state. Southern California Edison took the unusual position of siding with the local agencies, noting that the bill's intent to work closely with a variety of local and regional agencies and the actual language of the bill don't jibe. Gary Schoonyan, Edison's regulatory affairs director, said the utility supports statewide transmission planning but opposes usurping land-use control because general plans include assessments of a region's growth upon which the utility relies to assess demand. Senator Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles) urged that the bill be expanded to give the CEC authority over transmission. The Energy Commission pushed hard for that authority last year but faced strenuous opposition from the California Public Utilities Commission, and the proposal lost steam. Lawrence Lingbloom, a consultant to the Senate energy committee, said there were no plans to revise the bill to give the CEC transmission siting authority because when utilities build transmission projects, the issue is inextricably linked with ratemaking and recovery of the costs, which are handled by the CPUC. "The Energy Commission has no business making that decision," he said. Escutia agreed to try to rework the bill to diminish the opposition of cities and counties. SB 1059 will be heard in the Senate Local Government Committee April 20. Bill Applies Energy Crisis Lessons to Gasoline Squeeze< Legislation proposing to get a grip on the state's rising use of ever-costlier gasoline mirrors solutions that California is pursuing for meeting rising electricity and natural gas demand. A bill by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), passed on a 7-3 vote, encourages conservation, fuel efficiency, and use of alternatives to move the state toward a ?zero net increase in petroleum consumption by 2010.? SB 757 "is a version of shutting off the lights when you leave the room, not government micromanagement," Kehoe said. It would reduce dependence on foreign fuel sources and improve Californians? health and environment, she added. California is one of the major consumers of gasoline. According to the bill analysis, vehicle fuel efficiency in the state has dropped and consumption has risen by 7 percent between 2001 and 2004. Senator Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) compared the gasoline price spikes to those that occurred in the state?s electricity market in 2000-01. "It is all about market behavior, at least at first blush," he said. Opponents assert that the measure would drive up gas taxes and inhibit refinery investments. The measure heads to the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.