Urgency legislation to enact a 33 percent renewable energy mandate passed the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee on a 10-3 vote at the end of last week. Opposition to the repeated effort to raise the renewables portfolio standard from 20 percent for investor-owned utilities and public utilities diminished with a weakening of the bill's mandate. Supporters lauded the ability of SBX1 2 by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to create in-state jobs. Opponents largely focused on the measure's cost and restrictions on short-term contracts. Assemblymember Stephen Bradford (D-Los Angeles), committee chair, urged solid estimates for job creation under the 33 percent renewable energy bill, as well as for jobs created by the 20 percent renewable law. "Where are they going to be, and when are they going to come?" he asked. Public utilities, investor-owned utilities, utility worker unions, and ratepayer and clean air advocates support the bill. Some large energy user representatives and direct access providers continue to oppose it. "We have enough proposed projects to double the amount of renewables under the bill," said Scott Wetch, California Coalition for Union Employees lobbyist. He pointed to a recent California Independent System Operator study showing almost 43,000 MW of renewable energy projects in the grid operator's transmission queue already have been approved, 35,000 MW of which would be in California. SBX1 2 gives the CPUC the authority to cap costs to utility ratepayers. It also gives utilities and other energy service providers an out if they miss the bill's 25 percent mandate in 2016 and 33 percent standard in 2020, as long as the shortfall is due to lack of transmission or non-performing contracts. To diminish the out-of-state versus in-state renewable supply debate, the measure lays out resource preferences. First is in-state renewable energy, second is out-of-state renewable power within the west, and third is use of renewable energy credits. The credits represent the renewable attributes of out-of-state renewable power projects sold separately from the actual energy they produce. The credits are restricted to 25 percent of any portfolio initially and later limited to 10 percent. Simitian said that failure of his bill would create conflicting mandates. He noted that without his bill, the 33 percent renewable energy regulations developed by the Air Resources Board would be in effect as would the 20 percent renewable mandate under the California Public Utilities Commission's jurisdiction. The bill heads to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee next. On a 9-3 vote, the committee also passed a bill by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) seeking to direct $8 million of California Energy Commission funds to green job training academies. SBX1 1 seeks to curb the state's school drop-out rate through clean energy job training and build up the green jobs workforce. Discussion continues on which Energy Commission fund to tap in order to pay for the training program. Other energy bills recently passed include: ABX1 13 by Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez (D-Indio), which seeks to ease the way for renewable projects seeking public land in the desert by opening expanded species mitigation options to wind and geothermal facilities, in addition to solar projects. It passed the Assembly floor on a 58-15 vote March 7. ABX1 14 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) is an urgency bill permitting the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority to offer financial assistance for privately-issued loans for renewable energy and energy and water efficiency retrofits on homes and small businesses. It seeks to partially fill the void created by disruption of the regional Property Assessed Clean Energy programs by federal housing mortgage agencies (see related story on page 9). It passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee 11-5 on March 2. It awaits a vote on the Assembly floor.