Legislative Leaders Fast Track 33% RPS Bill

By Published On: February 4, 2011

Democratic lawmakers Feb. 2 released a quartet of urgency measures to increase renewable power resources and create alternative energy jobs. “While we grapple with the state’s immediate fiscal crisis, we also need to take concrete steps to stimulate California’s economy, create more jobs for Californians and prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s high-demand careers,” Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg stated. The key bill in the package is reintroduced legislation raising the state’s renewable mandate from 20 percent to 33 percent for private and public utilities and non-utility energy providers. SB 2x by Senators Steinberg, Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), and Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) sets a one-third alternative energy mandate for 2020. It gives the current 33 percent rule adopted by the California Air Resources Board the force of law. Earlier versions of 33 percent renewables portfolio standard legislation failed because of ongoing disputes over the size of the role that out-of-state renewable facilities should play. Also included in the legislative package are: -SB 148 by Steinberg again attempts to create a funding source for alternative energy jobs to curb high school drop out rates. It sets up an $8 million funding pot at the California Energy Commission to support 90 academies that offer clean technology and renewable job training. It mirrors Steinberg’s SB 1 that former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed last year. -A bill under development by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Oakland) is to replace regional and local funding for residential energy efficiency and solar retrofits, known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. The measure directs the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Authority to administer a Clean Energy Reserve Fund. It would use $50 million sitting in the Renewable Resources Trust Fund to support PACE programs, which were eroded by the federal housing mortgage agencies. Unlike municipal PACE programs, which involved upfront regional-backed loans to home owners and small businesses in exchange for long term property assessments, the yet-unnumbered legislation is directed at lenders. -Legislation under review by Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez (D-Indio) aims to speed up siting and building of renewable energy projects in the state. It too is not yet numbered Another bill undergoing drafting is one by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) that would once again seek to set a public and long term price for renewable resources up to 20 MW in size, known as a feed-in tariff.

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