Sacramento – The California State Legislature took another giant step toward building a clean energy future with the passage of five significant clean energy bills that will continue California’s leadership in promoting clean renewable energy.
“Despite the undue influence of utilities and the fossil fuel lobby on energy-related bills, the legislature is sending several strong clean energy bills down to the governor,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate with Environment California. “Signing these bills will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs, reduce millions of tons of air pollution and make California once again a clean energy leader.”
AB 920 (Huffman), AB 64 (Krekorian), SB 14 (Simitian) and SB 32 (Negrete McLeod) were all poised for passage as the end of the session neared.
AB 920 (Huffman): This bill will require all of the state’s electric utilities to pay solar customers for any surplus electricity generated on an annual basis. Current law only allows for a credit for electricity generated during the day to count toward electricity used during the night. At the end of the year, if a solar system owner has a surplus of electricity credits, they get zeroed out. The best that a solar customer can get is a “zero” bill. AB 920 would change this by requiring utilities to pay solar customers for the solar electricity sent back to the grid on an annual basis.
“It’s like your cell phone company zeroing out your rollover minutes every year,” said Del Chiaro. “Yet in this situation, solar electricity has significant value to the state of California and should be compensated as such. It is only fair.”
PG&E is strongly opposed to the measure.
AB 64 (Krekorian) & SB 14 (Simitian): AB 64 and SB 14 are companion bills that together set California on the path toward producing 33% of its electricity from renewable resources like solar and wind power. While there was much controversy over amendments to the bill that add in language for PG&E to potentially build large hydroelectric dams in British Columbia and call it renewable energy as well as amendments pushed by British Petroleum and Chevron that put 7,000 MW of fossil fuel burning combined heat and power plants ahead of renewable energy, the two bills still stand to become the biggest renewable energy mandate in the country.
“Developing clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power is a no-brainer for California given our abundant renewable energy resources and our potential for economic development from green energy,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro. “California must continue to lead the country toward a clean energy future.”
SB 32 (Negrete McLeod): SB 32 is California’s first significant foray into establishing a feed-in-tariff program. This bill would require the state’s electric utilities to buy solar electricity generated on warehouses, parking lots and other large spaces that could be home to large solar systems. Different than current solar policy, SB 32 would allow property owners to supersize their solar systems well beyond meeting their on-site electricity needs.
“This bill supersizes solar power in California,” said Del Chiaro. “Finally, all those empty warehouses in Los Angeles will become mini solar power plants generating pollution free electricity at the time California’s needs it most.”
AB 1404 (De Leon): AB 1404 caps the use of offsets to 10% of the greenhouse gas emission reductions expected to come from California’s cap and trade program. By capping offsets at just 10% of the state’s cap and trade program, AB 1404 helps to ensure that California’s biggest utilities invest in pollution reductions that will bring real benefits to California in the form of cleaner air and green jobs.
“AB 1404 was a real bright spot for 2009,” commented Del Chiaro. “Despite fierce opposition from the oil industry and other big polluters, the environmental and environmental justice community prevailed in the name of clean air and green economic development.”
It is unclear at this time how Governor Schwarzenegger will respond to these five policies. He has thirty days to take action. If no action is taken, in the form of either a signature or a veto, the bills become law.
“Governor Schwarzenegger should sign all of these bills,” said Del Chiaro. “They are good for California’s environment, consumers and economy, and they will help solidfy his legacy as a governor who understands that protecting the environment and rebuilding our economy go hand in hand.”