AB 2006 Sent to Governor; ?Million Solar Homes? Bills Collapse

By Published On: September 4, 2004

As the dust settles on the 2003-04 California legislative session, the state?s major energy bill is in veto limbo, while a second major solar bill is dead. Southern California Edison?s sponsorship of reregulation in the form of AB 2006, carried by Assembly Speaker Fabian N??ez, was sent to the governor August 27. It passed with 43 votes, with three Republicans supporting it. Among other things, the measure would set new conflict-of-interest standards for the California Public Utilities Commission, require hearings for large rate settlements, and require analysis of alternative types of power generation. The final day of the Republican National Convention, Governor Schwarzenegger said he intends to veto the bill. ?I think the speaker made a good attempt to try and set down an energy policy for the state,? said Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno), chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. ?The time clock ran out. It?s a good attempt, but it?s not a perfect solution.? If the governor follows through on his threatened veto, she said, ?Discussion needs to continue. I?d like to see the investor-owned utilities get back into the business of building their own power plants and determine their destiny of fate, and not be at the mercy of the market.? Reyes is concerned that the CPUC has too many ways to stop new generation from being built and prevent utilities? long-term procurement plans from coming to fruition. ?When you have a CPUC that continues to delay, it causes a problem,? she said. ?The utilities have to go to the spot market, and we all agree we don?t want them to go to it often.? The ?Million Solar Homes? proposal?variously known as AB 1652, SB 199, and SB 118?was left on the Assembly floor as the session expired. ?It had too many loose ends to resolve,? said a source close to the committee, adding that the proposal came too late in the session. ?If he?s [Schwarzenegger] still interested, I think my boss is still interested in trying to craft a bill that is going to work. We can take it up next session.? Energy bills in 2004 wrapped up as follows:<ul><li><b>AB 135:</b> With this Reyes bill, the Legislature passed a small piece of the final ?Million Solar Homes? statute, keeping the state?s solar energy subsidies funded until the end of 2008. The money, up to $60 million, will be borrowed from the Renewable Resources Trust Fund. The Senate passed the bill 29-5 August 27, after which the Assembly passed it to the governor.</li> <li><b>SB 1478:</b></li> Byron Sher?s (D-Palo Alto) bill changes the state?s plan for a renewable energy portfolio standard. Rather than requiring utilities to have at least 17 percent of their portfolios served by renewable energy by 2006, the bill would require them to reach 20 percent by 2010. It would also create a renewable energy credit trading system, so utilities that are short on their standard could buy credits from utilities that use more than their required share. It passed the Senate August 27 by a vote of 22-10 and awaits the governor?s signature. <li><b>AB 2473:</b></li> Lois Wolk?s (D-Vacaville) bill would clarify exactly when a fire official or local government could restrict solar panels and solar pool-heating systems. There are already state laws requiring that municipalities allow most such systems. Now, local governments will need ?specified written findings based upon substantial evidence in the record that the proposed installation would have a specific, adverse impact upon the public health or safety.? <li><b>AB 594:</b></li> This bill by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would give the city of San Francisco the right to net metering for up to a megawatt of power generated by its solar facilities. That will make feasible the development of a large solar generating station on an abandoned concrete reservoir. It passed the Assembly 80-0 and awaits the governor?s signature.</li></ul>

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