Bills Advancing Green Power Move Forward

By Published On: April 23, 2005

Under a bill similar to the governor?s ?Million Solar Roofs? initiative, a $100 million annual rebate program would be created for solar energy installations hooked to the grid. The goal of Assemblymember Lloyd Levine?s (D-Van Nuys) AB 1546, passed on a 6-3 vote by the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee this week, is to accelerate solar power development to reduce peak demand without affecting rates. The legislation would require the California Public Utilities Commission to open a proceeding to weigh the costs and benefits of this rebate program, which would tap into funds from large customers? interruptible programs and other demand-response programs. The rebates would also be funded by increases in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and public-goods charges. Rebates would start at $2.80/kW of capacity. AB 1546 would also raise the cap of allowable credits for those feeding power back into the grid from renewables systems from the current 0.5 percent of a utility?s total load to 1.5 percent. The California Manufacturers & Technology Association objected to tapping into the program that offers large customers lower power rates in exchange for curbing power usage during peak periods. Committee chair Levine also picked up the pieces of former senator Byron Sher?s nearly successful bill that would have created tradable green tags and codified the state energy agencies? pledge to accelerate the 20 percent renewables portfolio standard by seven years?to 2010. Passed on an 8-3 vote this week, Levine?s AB 1362 would create a clearly defined program allowing buying and selling a renewable supply?s green attribute as a commodity, separate from its power, to enable San Diego Gas & Electric to meet the state renewables portfolio requirement. SDG&E began with far fewer renewable supplies than the state?s two other investor-owned utilities, and the color of its portfolio is further darkened by transmission constraints. Under the bill, renewable energy credits (RECs) could not be counted more than once, revenues from their sale would be credited to ratepayers, and supplemental energy payments could not be used to pay for this tradable commodity. To further inhibit possible double-counting, green power contracts signed before January 2006, where ownership of the green attribute is not designated, would not qualify as a salable green tag. ?The limits are an effort to prevent a wide-open REC market, which might undermine the RPS goal of promoting investment in new renewable resources in California and could create the potential for market gaming,? according to the bill analysis. SDG&E threw its support behind the measure, adding that it wanted public power agencies, along with utilities, to be required to meet the state?s 20 percent renewables rule. A companion bill passed on an 11-0 vote would require a study to be conducted on the feasibility of requiring utilities to have one-third of their supplies renewable by 2020. Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee?s (R-San Luis Obispo) AB 1585 would require the study, to be completed by July 2007, to assess the impact of increasing the renewables standard on deliverability, dispatchability, and public-good funds. A bill by Assemblymember Mike Gordon (D-El Segundo) would require the California Energy Commission to prescribe minimum efficiency standards for distributed-generation technologies. AB 1332, passed on a 10-0 vote, aims to better use energy-efficiency resources. A bill that failed to pass in spite of much debate would have allowed hydropower facilities that produce more than 30 kW to qualify as renewable resources under the state?s renewables standard. It was vigorously opposed as thwarting a key goal of the renewables standard, which is to create new renewable resources.

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