Bills Grow Low-Income PV, Cut Lighting Costs

By Published On: April 11, 2013

Legislation to shine light on the cost effectiveness of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs and to finance solar rooftops on low income dwellings sailed through the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee April 8. AB 217 by Assemblymember Stephen Bradford (D-Inglewood) requires the California Public Utilities Commission to create a public database on energy efficiency program costs and savings. “This is a new process for collecting information about efficiency programs and projects’ effectiveness,” said Bradford, committee chair. By June 1, 2014, the CPUC is to create a website with information about the costs and benefits of utility and other efficiency programs. The bill passed on a 10-0 vote. Approved on a 10-1 vote was Bradford’s other bill, SB 270. It authorizes collecting from ratepayers $108 million to continue funding low income solar rooftop installations. “This is one tool and an important one to help low income customers lower their utility bill,” said Rebecca Lee, Division of Ratepayer Advocates senior analyst. The funds would extend the lives of two existing programs to 2021, the Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH) and the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH). Also passing the committee were the following bills: AB 687 by Assemblymember Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina) directs that electricity used to clean up contaminated groundwater at Superfund sites be non-utility-supplied power. Direct Access electricity supplies are expected to reduce the tab of the costly Superfund cleanups where round-the-clock water remediation is in use. The utility bill savings is to be reported to the California Public Utilities Commission. AB 687 passed 8-5. AB 719 by Hernandez requires that cities and private utilities reach an agreement on replacing inefficient street light bulbs with efficient ones. According to the author, street lights are cities’ biggest power expense. “The bill promotes energy efficient street lights and frees up funds in city general funds,” said Hernandez. The legislation follows a negotiated settlement between Southern California Edison and a coalition of Southland cities, which aligns the actual light costs to rates charged (Current, July 6, 2012). Edison and PG&E backed the bill after an amendment was added that directs the California Public Utilities Commission to develop a tariff by March 1, 2014, that determines who funds the street light efficiency upgrades. AB 796 by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) passed 10-3. It requires the California Energy Commission to consider sea level rise when certifying thermal power plants. The bill ensures that rising waters will be taken into consideration, said Murastuchi.

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