One of the bills enacted March 24 to help close the state’s $26.6 billion budget deficit loans $25 million from a California Public Utilities Commission energy-related account to the state general fund. The money is to come from the commission’s utilities reimbursement account. That fund--into which more than $80 million of ratepayer money flows each year--helps finance the commission’s work to regulate public utilities. The CPUC’s total budget is over $1 billion. The bill, SB 84, also loans $175 million from two CPUC funds intended to subsidize telecommunications service in areas considered high-cost or low-income. Under SB 84, the California Energy Commission’s Renewable Resource Trust Fund is set to temporarily part with a $20 million loan to the general fund (see story on page 7). The Trust Fund is used to buy down the cost of power from existing renewable energy projects and provides incentives for the state’s solar homes program. The loans are to be paid back at 2 percent interest. They fill a hole left in the state budget when Gov. Jerry Brown decided not to sell and lease back state office buildings. Counting all the various transfers and loans--including from non-energy-related funds--SB 84 closes the state’s budget gap by about $545 million. The loans come on top of minor cuts lawmakers approved to state energy programs earlier this year, as well as a hiring freeze (Current, March 4, 2011).