State Legislation – Advocacy
(Last update – May 7, 2019)
This year in the state legislature there are a few bills that this campaign are watching closely and taking positions on that are important for the future of Clean Energy in the state and locally. They are mostly bills that affect Community Choice Energy and are going through a process of being amended and require close monitoring. Our campaign’s discussion of bills occurs 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 is also tracking. 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, some key ones this year are AB 56 which calls for the establishment of a central buying authority for energy. The degree to which it is used is important for the way Community Choice Energy programs do what they do as they were set up to procure their own energy and this bill would impact that. Who does the buying and how much and for what purposes is key. The bill is getting better but we have been opposed to the bill as it has been written. Our most recent Letter of Opposition on it was during the Assembly Natural Resources Committee hearing on April 22. It has passed onto the Assembly Floor for a vote as of May 16 and given some recent improvements we may take no position as what the CPUC is discussing may be worse and this bill could be the best version we can get. There is a kind of Solar Bill of Rights Bill that we support, SB 288, which fits with our goal of supporting local, clean energy and are efforts to protect roof-top solar. Another bill we are engaged with right now is the microgrid bill by Senator Stern, SB 774, which needs to be made better before we can support it as right now if gives the investor-owned utilities too much control over them and they have not been very supportive in the past. There are a number of others that we are looking at and bills can come up at any time that we need to be ready for (usually these will be ones we will want to oppose) right up to the last days of the legislative session in late August. 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 not as much a focus of the Clean Energy/Clean Air Campaign so much, as it was of everyone in 350 Bay Area 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 last year 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.
And the other bill we were focused on was SB 237 which ended up passing and was signed into law despite even our letter writing efforts to the Governor to get him to veto it. We were strongly opposed even though it was amended to make it slightly less of a problem. It allows more businesses to contract on their own directly with energy service providers for their energy. These can be very short term contracts that are not transparent and hard to regulate. This will make it very difficult for Community Choice Energy programs that have these businesses in their territories as they may not know how much energy to purchase in their longer term contracts as they can’t predict what businesses will do this and keep doing this. It is also bad for the state’s clean energy goals as cost is the primary motivator for the businesses and they can choose to purchase fossil-fuel generated energy at lower cost. It passed in the Assembly Appropriations Committee (Here was our Letter of Opposition), and then on the floor soon after. It was a “gut and amend” bill, which is a tricky way some legislators have of putting something through very quickly and with almost no discussion in policy committees and even then, only on one side of the legislature. We thought we could convince the Governor that that isn’t the way to make consequential energy policy but he still signed it. Perhaps there is a way to stop it’s implementation in the CPUC or by passing another bill this year before it is scheduled to take effect.
Please consider getting involved with us this year to help with legislation. If interested, send an email to Ken Jones at Ken@350BayArea.org.