A select legislative committee in Sacramento is fine-tuning legislation that would form a new state agency that could borrow and spend $6.4 billion to finance renewable energy projects. The measure, AB 64, also sets a 50 percent alternative power goal by 2035 The bill would set a 25 percent green power standard for utilities by 2015. The bar would rise to 33 percent by 2020 and to 50 percent over the next 15 years. \u201cRenewable energy is critical,\u201d said Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank), coauthor of the legislation along with Speaker of the Assembly Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo). The Burbank Democrat chairs the new Assembly Select Committee on Renewable Energy that is developing the legislation. During the panel\u2019s first hearing March 12, Krekorian said the committee would meet weekly through early April to examine the \u201cvexing challenges\u201d in pursuing higher levels of renewable energy on the state\u2019s grid. Blakeslee said the bill aims to eliminate the real barriers to green energy that have become apparent under the state\u2019s 20 percent renewable energy standard. These include problems related to transmission siting, project financing, and utility procurement of green energy The panel began this week with how to streamline the transmission line siting process to more quickly develop renewable energy. As currently drafted, the bill would put the new authority in charge of the process. \u201cTransmission getting built is the number one hurdle,\u201d testified Linda Brown, San Diego Gas & Electric director of transmission planning. \u201cIt\u2019s a minimum of five to seven years to get a license to build it.\u201d Duplicative procedures slow transmission siting, said Les Starck, Southern California Edison vice president of local public affairs. He recommended that the California Public Utilities Commission defer to the California Independent System Operator\u2019s assessment of the need for new transmission projects. Under the current state process, the grid operator is first to assess the need and economic justification for proposed transmission projects. Then, the project proponents seek a license from the CPUC. Stark explained that the CPUC often independently assesses the need and economic reasonableness of the project, duplicating what the grid operator already has done. In addition, he suggested that the CPUC work jointly with utilities and other transmission project proponents on environmental analysis, rather than carrying out its own independent assessment after the developer already has reviewed the environmental impacts of a new line. CPUC deputy director Ken Lewis agreed that working with utilities \u201cupfront\u201d can cut the time for approving transmission projects. However, while lawmakers work to streamline transmission siting to connect remote utility-scale renewable energy facilities to the grid, Donne Brownsey, Solar Alliance lobbyist, urged deployment of distributed solar systems within utility distribution areas. She pointed out rooftop systems are quick to install because they do not require environmental review and extensive permitting. She added that up to 27,000 MW of distributed solar systems could be installed within utility distribution systems and that the price for photovoltaic panels is falling. Next on the panel\u2019s agenda are two hearings to delve into the utility renewable energy procurement process. Then in April, the panel plans to hold a hearing on what technologies and facilities are needed to achieve 33 percent green power by 2020.