A bill increasing California\u2019s renewable portfolio standard for investor-owned utilities to 33 percent by 2020 advanced in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee July 9 over the objection of energy companies and the state agencies that regulate them. Another bill requiring a study of proposed liquefied natural gas terminal projects before any could be permitted also moved forward, despite protests by the California Energy Commission. \u201cWe believe this bill is premature,\u201d said Carolyn McIntyre, Sempra Energy regional vice president for state governmental affairs, speaking of the renewable energy legislation. Sempra--which has two utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric and SoCal Gas--opposes the measure, SB 411, authored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). The requirement likely will raise the price of energy and also conflicts with the state\u2019s climate protection law, AB 32, she said. For instance, it would prevent utilities from earning greenhouse gas emission reduction credits under any cap-and-trade system except on renewable energy investments exceeding the 33 percent standard. The climate change law prevents credits for any action merely aimed at meeting an existing regulatory standard, allowing them only for steps that are additional to what is required, she explained. California Public Utilities Commission representative Bryan Crabb asked the panel to amend the bill. He said it should allow regulators to raise the existing requirement that utilities supply 20 percent renewable energy as soon as possible, but should stop short of placing a blanket 33 percent mandate on utilities. However, renewable energy advocates backed the measure. \u201cIt\u2019s a very important bill to get us to begin planning for a larger renewable energy future,\u201d said V. John White, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology executive director. White said that unless a firm target is set, planning efforts to build the additional transmission lines and renewable energy production facilities needed to take the state beyond the 20 percent green energy target will founder. White explained Simitian\u2019s bill maintains \u201coff ramps\u201d if achieving the 33 percent target proves infeasible technologically, for instance. The panel also approved Simitian\u2019s liquefied natural gas study bill, SB 412. It includes significant amendments. Simitian said it \u201cno longer ranks various projects.\u201d Initially it required that the California Energy Commission rack and stack proposed liquefied natural gas terminal projects based on their benefits and corresponding environmental and safety hazards. The new version merely requires the commission to outline the benefits and impacts of proposed projects in a \u201cmatrix\u201d that will allow them to be compared. The measure also is set to allow project proponents to pursue licensing while the commission is conducting the study--although state and local authorities could not give final approval for any permit for a plant until November 1, 2008, the effective deadline for the final report. The commission will have to issue a draft study by April 1, 2008, and include the document in its Integrated Energy Policy Reports beginning in 2009. The bill drew support from environmental advocates. The Energy Commission opposed the measure on grounds it duplicates its current natural gas market assessment work, which already is part of the biannual Integrated Energy Policy Report proceeding. The California Public Utilities Commission also opposed the measure, along with private energy interests, including the Western States Petroleum Association, and Pacific Gas & Electric. In other action, the committee approved: -SB 410--authored by Simitian boosts subsidies for California\u2019s biomass power industry. -SB 103--authored by Senate pro tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) replaces the California Energy Commission\u2019s supplemental energy payment program with a CPUC program that allows utilities to pay above-market prices for green energy subject to a cap of about $600 million through 2012.Unspent money from the Energy Commission program is intended to be refunded to ratepayers. -SB 451--authored by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) allows small-scale renewable energy producers, such as municipal facilities, to sell power to the grid under a CPUC-set tariff rather than just under a net metering arrangement. All of the bills have passed the Senate and now go on to other committees and, if they succeed, to the Assembly floor.