Nukes Nixed, Transmission Lands Expanded in Early Leg

By Published On: April 11, 2008

Bills to revive nuclear construction in California died while several renewable energy bills were sent back for amendments by two Assembly committees that chewed through a raft of legislation April 7. Bill vetting at the Legislature is still in the early stages with much of the legislative language in flux. In the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, two bills by Assemblymember Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine) failed to win enough votes for passage, according to the committee. AB 1776 was aimed at repealing state law that blocks building new nuclear power plants until a permanent solution for high-level radioactive waste is developed. The current planned federal site for nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, remains in limbo. DeVore’s AB 2788, which also did not pass, would have eliminated state regulatory power over siting nuclear plants. Also heard by the Natural Resources panel was AB 2432, authored by Assemblymember John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). The bill expands funding for the California Energy Commission to include planning and deployment of climate change mitigation measures in addition to energy efficiency and other research grants. It was passed and sent back to the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. The same day, the Utilities & Commerce Committee passed the following bills: AB 1755–Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes’ (D-Arleta) transmission corridor bill expands the timeline of investor-owned utilities’ to plan for high voltage lines. Current law allows utilities to keep land designated for a transmission corridor for five years, according to Fuentes. “It’s become a barrier to transmission planning,” he said. The bill allows utilities to keep the land in their ratebases as long as the CEC allows. The bill was forwarded to the appropriations committee. AB 2224–This “green jobs” bill by Assemblymember Hector De la Torre (D-South Gate) attempts to standardize solar installation curricula in city colleges and high schools. “It’s a growing segment of our workforce,” said Del la Torre. California Manufacturers & Technology Association government relations vice president, Dorothy Rothrock, expressed concern that ratepayer funds would be used for workforce training instead of research and development. AB 2269–Aiming at the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, this Fuentes bill “clarifies” that solar photovoltaic panels can be owned by a third party with the resulting power sold to the utility. The author “doesn’t want LADWP to own panels and dry up the market,” explained Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), committee chair. Randy Howard, LADWP power engineering manager, said that the for-profit sector isn’t participating “much,” leaving it to government and non-profits. AB 2404–By Assemblymember Mary Salas (D-Chula Vista), this bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission, along with water agencies, to review water savings and energy use. It went to the Natural Resources Committee in amended version. AB 2804–This measure gives additional time for completing large photovoltaic projects for developers who get state subsidies. Assemblymember Mary Hyashi (D-Hayward), the author, said the current time limits have “been tough” on large projects.

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