Legislation to increase gas pipeline safety and count large hydro projects towards the 33 percent renewables mandate await hearings. Since the state created its renewables portfolio mandate, a number of municipal utilities have objected to excluding hydropower facilities 30 MW or greater from the definition of renewables under the state’s alternative power standard. A new bill, SB 971 by Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), modifies for publicly owned utilities the state’s 33 percent Renewables Portfolio Standard approved last year. The measure allows the munis to count their large hydropower supplies towards their alternative energy mandate. Cannella, who introduced a similar bill last year that died, said his aim is to reduce ratepayers costs attributed to the 33 percent renewable mandate. Merced Irrigation District customers, for example, would save $500/year on utility bills if large hydro qualified as renewable, he said. He acknowledged during a press conference earlier this month, “It is going to be a tough fight.” Large hydro was initially excluded from the definition of qualifying renewable resources because of its impact on fish and other aquatic species. A hearing in the Senate Energy Utilities & Commerce Committee is set for April 17. AB 2559 by Assemblymember Jean Buchanan (D-San Ramon) directs the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure that a city or county is notified by a gas utility when it undertakes pipeline inspection, remediation, or replacement work pursuant to a new integrity management plan. The measure aims to increase coordination between the CPUC, gas utilities, and local agencies. The bill is sponsored by the CPUC. Another bill, AB 1703, by Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-San Bruno), requires utilities to report to the CPUC settlements or judgments greater than $50,000 that arise from civil actions brought by an employee, former employee, or contractor claiming safety violations.