State lawmakers are away from the Capitol this week for spring recess, but awaiting their return is a stack of new bills aimed at affecting energy policy. So far, none of the measures up for consideration April 12 and 13 has taken on marketwide significance. AB 2006, the bill on a core-noncore split for direct access proposed by Assembly speaker Fabian N??ez, will have its hearing April 19. But the other measures cover a wide area of interest, from Pacific Gas & Electric?s bankruptcy to deriving power from trees picked over by hungry bark beetles. Bills to be heard April 13 in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee include:<ul><li><b>SB 1624:<\/b> This bill by committee chair Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) would allow the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, a branch of the California Public Utilities Commission, to participate in court cases where commission decisions are reheard. In agency proceedings as well, ORA would be treated as any other party, which would include the ability to ?compel the production or disclosure of any information it deems necessary to perform its duties from entities regulated by the commission.?<\/li> <li><b>SB 1776:<\/b> Also by Bowen, this measure would extend until 2007 the California Energy Commission?s ability to expedite the review of thermal power plant projects. At present, this provision under state law expired at the beginning of 2004. Another Bowen bill, SB 1859, will not be heard next week. The bill would move the CEC out of the Resources Agency hierarchy and put it under the state Environmental Protection Agency instead. According to Capitol sources, the bill is undergoing amendment.<\/li> <li><b>SB 1478:<\/b> Senator Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto) introduced this bill to require utilities to hold competitive solicitations for green power. SB 1478, which would also limit the amount of public funding available to a renewables project, would head off potential iterations of Southern California Edison?s maligned TrueSolar Energy deal (see <i>Circuit<\/i>, Feb. 27, 2004).<\/li> <li><b>SB 1716:<\/b> Under this bill by Senator Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), the California Power Authority?s assets would be handed over to the Energy Commission, and the CPA itself would be abolished. As yet, no language has been included regarding who should inherit the agency?s $5 billion in bonding authority, which some have suggested could be put toward badly needed transmission lines (see <i>Circuit<\/i>, March 12, 2004).<\/li> <li><b>SB 1398:<\/b> This bill by Senator Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) would put a stop to utility tariffs thought to dampen more widespread use of distributed generation resources (see <i>Circuit<\/i>, Feb. 27, 2004).<\/li> <li><b>SB 1201:<\/b> Brought forward by Senator Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), SB 1201 would change rules under which the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) can acquire electricity. In addition to being able to receive federal preference power on request from an electric company, the bill would allow BART to obtain power produced by a municipal utility. SB 1201 has been classified as an ?urgency? statute that would take effect immediately.<\/li> <li><b>SB 1296:<\/b> Also pegged as urgent, this bill by Senator Nell Soto (D-Pomona) would encourage investment in power systems that use wood waste for fuel?specifically, waste generated by bark beetles in the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego. Such facilities would be exempt from Department of Water Resources bond charges or other typical departing-load surcharges. Pending their conversion to energy, the moribund trees constitute ?extreme peril? because of potential wildfires, erosion, or other environmental instability, according to the bill.<\/li><\/ul>On April 12, the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, under chair Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno), will hear the following measures:<ul><li><b>AB 2303:<\/b> This bill by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would block insolvent utilities from charging ratepayers for executive bonuses and would eliminate tax benefits associated with those payouts (see Circuit, March 19, 2004). AB 2303 has also been referred to the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.<\/li> <li><b>AB 2652:<\/b> This bill by Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) focuses on proposals for repowering generation units. AB 2652 would require state regulators, in reviewing utility procurement plans, to give preference to renovated power plants meeting efficiency and environmental criteria. Utilities would have to give priority to resources that cut down on grid congestion. In addition, the Energy Commission would have to set rules for accelerated review of repowering projects, as well as priority standards for environmental and efficiency performance.<\/li> <li><b>AB 2642:<\/b> Under this bill by Assemblymember Joe Canciamilla (D-Pittsburg), the CEC, in consultation with the CPUC, would have to report to the Legislature by 2005 on the costs and benefits of having gas-fired power plants use fuel more efficiently.<\/li> <li><b>AB 2593:<\/b> Brought forward by Thomas Calderon (D-Montebello), the bill would curtail ratepayer contributions to the state?s self-generation incentive program (during one program year) if the CPUC determines that enough funding is available to cover expected incentives.<\/li> <li><b>AB 2685:<\/b> By Assemblymember Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), the measure calls for a new Energy Independence Board to facilitate power projects rated at less than 50 MW (see <i>Circuit<\/i>, March 19, 2004).<\/li> <li><b>AB 2803:<\/b> This bill by Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood) would attempt to evaluate economic impacts wrought by the decisions of state regulators. A new Office of Economic Development would be established within the CPUC to review both positive and negative effects in areas such as market prices, jobs, and technological innovation.<\/li> <li><b>AB 2967:<\/b> Supported by Assemblymember Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale), this bill would disintegrate the CPA and mirrors SB 1716 described above.<\/li> <li><b>AB 1889:<\/b> Introduced by Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), this bill would delete from state law provisions concerning the failed California Power Exchange.<\/li><\/ul>Missing from the menu is another Oropeza bill, AB 2432, which would require utilities stricken by blackouts to deliver periodic outage update notices in writing to all customers. Assembly U&C members will hear the bill April 19.