Legislation Asks for Credit Where (Power) Credit Is Due

By Published On: April 8, 2011

Legislation to allow local governments and schools to be credited for excess power sent into the grid for systems sized up to 5 MW from off-site alternative power sources passed the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee April 4. AB 512, by Assemblymember Rich Gordon (D-Los Altos), aims to reduce public entities’ utility bills by increasing the credits they get for surplus power. Currently, only excess power from renewable projects up to 1 MW can be used to lower investor-owned utility bills. Sonoma County, for example, installed a 1.4 MW fuel cell and the power often gets sent to the grid instead of used by the county. It gets no credit for that energy. AB 512 is to be heard next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Two other energy bills won approval on a 14-0 vote with no discussion, including a measure allowing the state to tap into $70 million stemming from 2000-01 energy crisis settlements. AB 1390, by the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee, allows California’s attorney general to access the $70 million collected as refunds from energy deals signed during the crisis and later challenged as unjust. The refunds were directed to the 2000-01 crisis-created Electricity Oversight Board. However, the Board was defunded and eliminated during the 2008-09 budget cycle by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. AB 1390 allows the attorney general to step into the board’s shoes and collect the funds from JPMorgan Chase, which refuses to release the money without an order, according to the bill analysis. AB 1391, another committee bill, eliminates the requirement that the California Public Utilities Commission report to the Legislature on the cost of net metering because the mandate was satisfied in March 2010.

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