State Legislation – Advocacy
(Last update – October 29, 2019)
This year in the state legislature (session was over on Sept.13) there were a few bills that this campaign had been watching closely and taking positions on that were important for the future of Clean Energy in the state and locally. They were mostly bills that affect Community Choice Energy and had gone through a process of being amended and required close monitoring. Our campaign’s discussion of bills occurred mostly in regular meetings of 350 Bay Area Action’s Legislative Committee where you can see quite a few other bills that 350 Bay Area Action had also been tracking. That is also the page you can find links to our most recent Letters that we submitted to the legislature. Supporting legislation to raise the threshold for how much electricity in California must come from renewable sources and stopping legislation that tries to hamper Community Choice Energy, a very effective way to increase the pace of development of local, renewable energy, are high priorities of this campaign and complements our work on similar issues in rule-makings at the CPUC.
So, a key one this year was AB 56 which called for the establishment of a central buying authority for energy. It passed on the Assembly Floor by one vote on May 31. In its first hearing on the Senate side, though, thanks in part to our efforts and those of many groups, the bill did not get enough votes in that hearing on July 10th to move forward. A big win for now but it may be back next year. There are a variety of bills we Opposed that, each, in one way or another, infringes on the Community Choice Energy build-out that has happened in the Bay Area and is now expanding to other parts of the state, Among those are SB 155. While it eventually passed we were able to get it amended to the point of having almost no effect on CCA’s), SB 350 (the author pulled the bill July 8th and it died) we had been opposing because it also pushed for a state centralized buying mechanism in some situations and would take choice away from Community Choice programs needlessly. We also opposed AB 1584 pushing for penalties on the public community energy programs was also amended, but it did pass and was signed into law and eventually signed by the Governor. We think it will have a negligible effect though partly because of the amendments that our opposition may have helped get. We had added another later in the year as we had capacity to track more, SB 520, which we Opposed because it looks past Community Choice Energy programs as being able to be Provider of Last Resort (POLR) while anointing the IOU’s for that task even though they are bankrupt or threatening to be. It also passed and was signed into law. That one was, sadly, that no one was able to stop but we expect it may end up being changed as Community Choice Energy spreads and becomes the way energy is procured and everyone sees how reliable and secure these non-profits are.
There was a Solar Bill of Rights Bill that we supported which fit with our goal of supporting local, clean energy and our efforts to protect roof-top solar. It was allowed to be thoroughly gutted, so as not to say much of anything, behind closed doors by Senate leadership as it went through Appropriations and onto the Senate floor where most Senators voted for it, but the author turned it into another bill on a different subject on the Assembly side.. We expect the concept will come back in another bill next year Another bill we had been engaged with was a bill that proposed a way to create and operate microgrids by Senator Stern, SB 774. We pushed for it to be made better, so we could support it. It gave the investor-owned utilities too much control over them and they have not been very supportive of microgrids in the past. The author gave up on the bill on July 5th but may try to bring it back next year. With so much focus on the effects of PG&E’s bankruptcy there are not as many bills this year related to clean energy as there were last year. .
Last year, of course, there was SB 100 (sets a goal for the state of reaching 100% clean energy for electricity by 2045) which was former President Pro Tem Senator Kevin De Leon’s bill from 2017. In September of last year, it had passed the Assembly, barely, right at the end of the legislative session, which was all it needed to do at that point after having passed the Senate in 2017.. And then in early September, just before the Global Climate Action Summit, Governor Brown signed it into law, making Hawaii and California the only two states with that goal signed into law. This bill was a high priority of the Legislative Team and many in 350 Bay Area worked hard on this. It was a focus of the Clean Energy/Clean Air Campaign, but also of everyone in 350 Bay Area Action working on legislation. And there were so many other organizations also working on it. Here is the website where you can still see by clicking on “supporters” at the top and scrolling down, all the groups that were pushing for SB100 to pass: https://ca100.org/ .
AB 813 was back lin 2018 as the grid regionalization bill that we were very concerned about. Here was our Letter of Opposition to the Bill. It was defeated right at the end of the legislative session by the new President Pro Tem, Toni Atkins, saying she would not bring it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. It appeared that our efforts in lobbying our State Senators in the Bay Area, and others around the state, worked. We urged people to take action on it HERE, where you can see our talking points and links to information about it, as well, which can help you see why we continue to be so concerned. It may be a bill that comes back this year.
Please consider getting involved with us this coming year by January to help with legislation in the next legislative session. If interested, send an email to Ken Jones at Ken@350BayArea.org.