State Legislation – Advocacy
(Last update – July 14, 2019)
This year in the state legislature there are a few bills that this campaign has been 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. 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 is likely to be back next year. There are a variety of bills we are Opposing 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 (was amended to be better), SB 350 (the author pulled the bill July 8th so probably dead) and AB 1584. There was a kind of Solar Bill of Rights Bill that we supported, SB 288, 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. The author decided to give up on the bill on the Assembly side but there will be efforts to get key components of it inserted in another bill as we go through that last month of this legislative season starting in August. 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 as it gave the investor-owned utilities too much control over them and they have not been very supportive in the past. The author gave up on the bill on July 5th but may try to bring it back next year. 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.