U.S. renewable energy consumption surpasses coal for the first time in over 130 years

By Mickey Francis, US Energy Information Administration


Highlights

  • In 2019, U.S. annual energy consumption from renewable sources exceeded coal consumption for the first time since before 1885, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
  • Compared with 2018, coal consumption in the United States decreased nearly 15%, and total renewable energy consumption grew by 1%, largely comprised of wind and solar
  • Natural gas consumption in the electric power sector has significantly increased in recent years and has displaced much of the electricity generation from retired coal plants
  • Since 2015, the growth in U.S. renewable energy is almost entirely attributable to the use of wind and solar in the electric power sector
  • In 2019, electricity generation from wind surpassed hydro for the first time and is now the most-used source of renewable energy for electricity generation in the United States on an annual basis
  • Coal is still being used within the US to generate electricity; 90% of coal used is in the electric power sector and the rest is in the industrial sector

The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions. 


Read more: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=43895

Fires are coming. But PG&E and some cities are holding up battery backups

By Sammy Roth, The Los Angeles Times


Highlights

Solar installation companies are working to get projects done before the next wildfire season starts in Calfornia, but restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is making it hard to do business.

  • Some cities are refusing to issue permits for solar and storage installations as county buildings are closed due to shelter in place mandates
  • The California Solar and Storage Association concluded that 15,000 people have likely been laid off or furloughed based on a survey given to their member businesses
  • In Santa Clara County,  officials initially allowed installations only of solar-plus-storage systems, and installations without batteries were postponed
  • Though business is down by 90% for installers, the California Energy Commission released a statement clarifying that solar and energy storage installers are considered essential electricity industry workers
  • Rooftop panels can help people keep their energy costs down at a time when millions of Californians have filed for unemployment and residential electricity use is higher
  • Electricity generation from small scale rooftop solar installations more than tripled in California between 2014 and 2019 and the state received more solar energy than wind energy this past year
  • More small scale solar on residential and commercial rooftops helps utilities avoid large transmission costs from importing energy from larger-scale solar farms
  • The Public Utilities Commission has started accepting applications for more than $600 million in incentive funding for battery installations in homes that could see their power shut off come fire season

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience, we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. 


Read more: https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2020-04-29/fires-blackouts-solar-batteries-essential

Solar and wind cheapest sources of power in most of the world

By Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg


Highlights

Solar power and onshore wind power are now the cheapest new sources of electricity in the majority of the world’s population.

  • The Levelized Cost of Energy for wind has fallen 9% and solar has dropped by 4%  
  • Prices are especially low in the U.S., China, and Brazil 
  • Improvements in the technology, lower equipment costs, and clean energy goals have made these renewable sources a serious threat to the fossil fuel industry
  • It is unclear if the low prices of oil due to the pandemic will erode the competitiveness of wind and solar

The Climate Center works toward electrifying buildings and vehicles using 100% clean energy sources such as solar and wind to eliminate fossil fuel-based emissions. 


Read More: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-28/solar-and-wind-cheapest-sources-of-power-in-most-of-the-world?sref=ABTRBDIh

Southern California Edison contracts mammoth 770mw energy storage portfolio to replace California gas plants

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media


Highlights

Investor-owned utility Southern California Edison (SCE)  has signed multiple grid battery contracts totaling in 770 megawatts of storage.

  • SCE aims to have these seven projects live by August 2021, making it the fastest turnaround for a project of this size
  • These batteries will be stationed at existing solar farms, creating renewable energy for the grid and providing new energy sources as the state shutters multiple coal fire gas plants
  • These project sites are spread out through the lower half of the state, with some located in Riverside County and the Central Valley
  • In order to secure the proper financing, the California Energy Storage Association and storage companies are asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to expedite the process for reviewing and approving the projects
  • Large scale batteries will be the new norm as California aims to have 100 percent of its energy from carbon-free resources by 2045

The Climate Center’s clean and smart community microgrid initiative for a Climate-Safe California will help ensure that all cities and counties have the funding and technical support to conduct collaborative, participatory planning processes going forward.


Read more: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/southern-california-edison-picks-770mw-of-energy-storage-projects-to-be-built-by-next-year

What’s the ideal way for the microgrid industry to come back from COVID-19?

By Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge 


Highlights

The Clean Energy community called for relief in the recent federal stimulus package as the industry has taken a critical hit due to the COVID- 19 pandemic.

  • Over 100,000 clean energy sector workers have lost their jobs due to business shifting during the pandemic and the industry could lose half of its workforce in the coming weeks, erasing the growth the industry gained during the last year 
  • It was projected that the industry would have contributed $25 billion to the economy
  • Offering the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) as accessible cash payments is a top priority for the industry since many companies won’t have tax liabilities. The ITC is the largest source of savings for solar installations but the credit is dropping from 30% to 26% this year
  • Many solar projects are postponed this year, meaning these projects do not qualify for the 30% ITC unless the project meets certain qualifications 
  •  The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is calling for the U.S. government to invest $450 billion to equip 30 million rooftops with solar panels, providing installation jobs and clean energy for homes
  • The Alliance for Rural Electrification is calling for fast-tracking existing procurement and funding procedures for decentralized renewable energy projects, and electrifying rural health facilities

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read more: https://microgridknowledge.com/microgrid-growth-covid-19/

Oil companies are collapsing, but wind and solar energy keep growing

By Ivan Penn, The New York Times


Highlights

  • Even though the renewable energy sector is facing some losses during the coronavirus pandemic, renewables are set to account for nearly 21% of the electricity in the United States, a 3% increase from 2019
  • Renewables prices have not dropped as much as oil and gas prices during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, small solar companies are taking big financial hits due to canceled projects and are having to lay off employees
  • The cost of building renewable energy sources such as solar and wind farms is cheaper than building natural gas and nuclear plants and can be built at a much faster rate
  • In addition, renewable energy is cheaper to operate compared to coal and oil, allowing utilities to use cleaner electricity
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade group, estimates that half of workers in the solar industry could lose their jobs at least temporarily because of the coronavirus outbreak
  • Government efforts to address climate change have helped drive down costs of wind and solar equipment and made the industry more resilient to economic swings
  • Lobbyists for renewable energy are asking lawmakers to make it easier for their industry to take advantage of tax credits the government provides for wind and solar power

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California platform aims to secure a positive transition for workers and their families whose livelihoods depend on fossil fuel industries. Endorse the platform here


Read more: Oil companies are collapsing, but wind and solar energy keep growing

New study supports distributed clean energy and community energy resilience

by Brian Bienkowski, Environmental Health News


Highlights

Small-scale energy projects are likely to help the world reach climate goals more effectively than larger-scale projects, according to a new study from Science Magazine.

  • The study used existing technologies to see what would help countries lower emissions all the way down to net-zero by 2050 and examined factors such as cost and accessibility 
  • So-called “granular” technologies such as solar plus storage, heat pumps, smart thermostats, electric bikes, and shared taxis had the capacity to lower emissions more so than “lumpy” technologies such as nuclear power, carbon capture, or building retrofits
  • Lead author of the study Charlie Wilson suggests that governments prioritize small scale solutions by “directing funding, policies, incentives, and opportunities for experimentation away from the few big and towards the many small.”
  • Small-scale granular tech is easier to deploy and can create local jobs faster and have a lower investment risk

The Climate Center’s clean and smart community microgrid initiative for a Climate-Safe California will help ensure that all cities and counties have the funding and technical support to conduct collaborative, participatory planning processes going forward.


Read More: https://www.ehn.org/clean-energy-small-scale-2645618293.html

Electrify everything, or aim for beneficial electrification?

My how things have changed. Back in the day, when most of the electricity we used was derived from fossil energy sources, any reduction of electricity use was considered a good thing by those concerned about emission. Now that the grid is on a trajectory toward ever cleaner sources, the dynamic has changed. Fuel switching from fossil gas powered systems to electric systems can, and most often is, a cleaner way to go.

But does this mean that we should electrifying everything, always, everywhere? Or is there a more thoughtful, measured approach that prioritizes electrification that brings the most benefit, socially and environmentally, and leaves room for other clean systems? Let’s also not forget age old common sense: it is rarely ever a great idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Consistent with that wisdom, electrifying everything may leave those who have electrified everything with nothing when there is no, or limited, electricity to be had.

Let’s start by defining these terms. When we say electrify everything, that can easily be construed to mean what it appears to say, that the aim is to simply electrify everything that requires power. For the sake of this article, that is the definition we will use. Beneficial electrification means identifying systems that run on dirty power that can be switched to use electricity with no detrimental social or environmental impacts, thus providing multiple benefits to direct users and others. Beneficial electrification is not necessarily at the exclusion of other options, both powered, and non-powered.

The Regulatory Assistance Project, an independent nonprofit organization, points to three criteria that electrification should meet to count as beneficial. It should:

  • Reduce harmful environmental impacts;
  • Save consumers money over the long run; and
  • Enable better grid management.

If we abide by these criteria, we can identify many candidates for electrification. And if we abide by our non-exclusionary principle, other non-electrified options can be considered. Let’s take a look at few use cases.

Buildings

Solar water heating is the lesser-known solar technology. When most folks think of solar power, they think of solar photovoltaics, the conversion of sunlight to electricity. Solar hot water is the conversion of solar energy to heat and it works without a need for gas or electric power. Solar water heating is a well-established and proven technology has been around since the 19th century and is used widely in many parts of the world. In Israel for example, it is estimated that 90% of households use solar water heating. Although it has significant upfront installation costs, solar water heating meets our three criteria.

I use a solar oven. I have been using it – the same one – since 2008. It is a wonderful way to avoid using gas or electricity and it is downright fun. In full sun, it rapidly shoots to over 300 degrees, hot enough for many cooking tasks including baking. Come over some time and I’ll make you a wild blackberry pie. It is also a great rice cooker – set it and forget it. Just put it out on the deck with the pot of rice & water aimed toward the south. The sun arcs across the sky in just the right amount of time to cook the rice and to then “turn off” as the angle of solar radiance becomes so steep that the temperature drops. When we are ready for dinner the rice is usually still warm enough to just scoop out onto a plate. Solar ovens meets our three criteria.

Lastly, it is critically important to remember to not electrify inefficiency. “Efficiency first,” so the loading order goes. (1. energy efficiency, 2. demand response, 3. clean distributed energy resources). Simply electrifying a bad or inefficient system is not the best way to go about things. The obvious case is solar photovoltaics (PV). Although PV costs have dropped precipitously over the past 15 years, solar panels are still expensive. It makes sense to look at ways to maximize efficiency, which often costs far less than PV, prior to calculating the size of PV array needed.

It is important to consider that a key benefit is in the specific cases where the technology itself is much more efficient. Resistance electric heaters are electric, but not efficient. They use a lot of energy, and potentially can burn more natural gas and have higher greenhouse gas emissions, than burning natural gas in a home heater. Electric heat pump space and water heaters are helpful because they are two to three times more efficient than a gas or resistance electric heater. So it is important to consider what kind of electrification technology we are talking about.

Transportation

Simply electrifying transportation will still leave us with congestion and a system that does not meet the needs of a large portion of the population. To address the transportation question adequately, investments not just in electrification, but in public transit, pedestrian and bicycling amenities should be considered. Beyond that, we can look at advancing ways to reduce the need for travel at all, such as teleworking, and redesigning our urban environments to be more conducive to non-powered transit. This is not to say that powered transportation should not be electrified. It should. The point is that we should look at these systems holistically and aim to address some of the problems that won’t be solved by electrification alone.

For greater penetration of variable clean energy sources (wind and solar), there is a critical need for tandem technologies to be deployed. A clear example is the abundance of solar PV available but not always needed during the day. We need a place to store that energy. So in the same breath that we talk about electrification we need to talk about technologies such as energy storage and automated demand response in order to realize the full benefits.

Let’s not forget about conservation. With the world population projected to reach about ten billion by 2050, resources required for the batteries and other technologies that make electrification possible will not be infinite. Conservation means reducing energy consumption by simply using less of a service, especially where that service itself is frivolous, wasteful, or not really benefiting people.

Lastly, as we consider beneficial electrification, the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts of energy use should be taken into account. Energy democracy, social justice, affordability, and concern for the effect on communities, wildlife habitat, and natural resources must be included as part of the analysis. Yes, we need to scale up renewable energy in the built environment and expand electric vehicle adoption. But if the broader context is not brought to the center of the discussion, a blind push to electrify everything could ultimately be counterproductive to the main problem that electrify everything claims to solve – addressing the climate crisis.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE – March 27, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 disruption, the legislature has gone into recess until April 13 at the earliest. While the legislature is on recess, The Climate Center continues to analyze the bills that were introduced in February, and is in the process of determining positions on many of them. Below are several, but not all, of the key bills we are tracking. For a complete list of the 112 bills we are currently tracking in 2020, click HERE. Our next update will be published here on April 9. Please send updates, suggestions, corrections to woody@theclimatecenter.org

 

Assembly Bills

AB 345 (Muratsuchi) SUPPORT – This bill will, if enacted, establish regulations to protect public health and safety near oil and gas extraction facilities,  including a minimum setback distance between oil and gas activities and sensitive receptors such as schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, residences, hospitals, and health clinics. See The Climate Center’s Letter of Support. STATUS: In the Senate. Read first time. Sent to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment to a policy committee.

 

AB 1839 (Bonta) WATCH – The “Green New Deal” bill. Introduced on January 6, this bill would create the California Green New Deal Council with a specified membership appointed by the Governor. The bill would require the California Green New Deal Council to submit a specified report to the Legislature no later than January 1, 2022. So far the plan is scant on specifics including how goals will be met or how much the State will pay to meet those goals. STATUS: Introduced in January 6. No committee assignment yet. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.  The Climate Center is still assessing the bill and has not yet taken a position.

AB 1847 (Levine) WATCH – This bill would authorize the CPUC (contingent on the Commission finding that an electrical corporation is not complying with State law, rules, or regulations) to appoint a public administrator to the electrical corporation for a period not to exceed 180 days. The bill would vest the public administrator with oversight authority over the electrical corporation’s activities that impact public safety. See the bill author’s factsheet. STATUS: In the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee. No hearing date set.

AB 2145 (Ting) WATCH – This bill would state the intent of the legislature to enact legislation to reform the electric vehicle charging infrastructure approval process employed by the CPUC to help ensure that by 2030 California will safely install enough EV charging ports to meet the demand through public and private investment.

 

AB 2689 (Kalra) Likely Support. – This bill updates Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) confidentiality provisions to allow a broader range of market experts to participate in complex IOU cost recovery proceedings and supports California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) oversight to protect customers from unreasonable or unjustified IOU rate increases. California IOU electric generation rates have increased 49% since 2013. Between 2008 and 2018, IOU customer rates doubled from $29.3 billion to $59.3 billion per year. AB 2689 would result in greater IOU accountability and improved consumer protection, safety, and affordability. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill. STATUS: In the Assembly Rules Committee.
AB 2789 (Kamlager) WATCH – This bill would appropriate $1,500,000 and require the CPUC, in consultation with the CA Energy Commission, to request the California Council on Science and Technology to undertake and complete a study, as specified, relative to electrical grid outages and cost avoidance resulting from deployment of eligible renewable energy resources, battery storage systems, and demand response technologies. The bill would require the PUC to report the results of the study to the Legislature by January 1, 2022. STATUS: Awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.
AB 3014 (Muratsuchi) WATCH – This bill aims to improve the reliability of California electric supply by reforming the State’s resource adequacy (RA) program. Specifically, this bill creates the Central Reliability Authority (CRA), a non-profit public benefit corporation, to purchase residual RA needed to meet state requirements while still allowing load-serving entities (LSEs), such as Community Choice Agencies (CCAs), to maintain their procurement autonomy. The newly created CRA also reduces costly RA purchases currently undertaken by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and greatly enhances the RA market. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill. STATUS: In the Assembly Rules Committee.

AB 3021 (Ting) SUPPORT – This bill would appropriate $300,000,000 per fiscal year in the 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23 fiscal years from the General Fund to the California Energy Commission to administer a program to provide resiliency grant funding and technical assistance to local educational agencies for the installation of energy storage systems. STATUS: Double-referred to Education and Natural Resources committees.

 

AB 3251 (Bauer-Kahan) WATCH – This bill would require that charging of energy storage systems be treated as load in calculations for demand response programs, and that capacity from energy storage systems installed on the customer side of the meter be allowed to be aggregated for purposes of determining resource adequacy capacity; and electricity exported to the grid from the customer side of the meter be allowed to count toward the capacity obligations of load-serving entities. STATUS: In Assembly, referred to Asm Energy Committee.

 

Senate Bills

SB 45 (Allen, et al) SUPPORT – Dubbed the “Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020.” This is a proposed $5.51 billion general obligation bond to be placed on the November 3, 2020 statewide general election. Specifically, $570 million will be made available for climate resiliency initiatives including microgrids, distributed generation, storage systems, in-home backup power, and community resiliency centers such as cooling centers, clean air centers, hydration stations, and emergency shelters. STATUS: Passed out of Senate, in the Assembly, held at the desk.

 

SB 378 (Wiener) WATCH – Would establish customer and local government protections related to Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) incidents. Specifically, the bill requires IOUs to provide annual reports to the Wildfire Safety Division within the CPUC on the condition of their electrical equipment and provide maintenance logs to assess fire safety risk. The bill also requires the CPUC to develop procedures for consumers and local governments to recover costs from IOUs accrued during PSPS events, improves PSPS notification procedures, and makes IOUs subject to civil fines if the CPUC determines that the IOU failed to act in a reasonable and prudent manner. STATUS: In the Assembly, pending committee referral.

SB 774 (Stern) WATCH – SB 774 would require IOUs to collaborate with the State’s Office of Emergency of Services and others to identify where back-up electricity sources may provide increased electrical distribution grid resiliency and would allow the IOUs to file applications with the CPUC to invest in, and deploy, microgrids to increase resiliency. Concerns focus on too much control being placed in the hands of the IOUs over microgrid development when other LSEs and stakeholders can and should play a role. STATUS: In the Assembly committee process with no committee assignment and no hearing date.

 

SB 917 (Wiener) WATCH – This bill renames the California Consumer Energy and Conservation Financing Authority and via eminent domain takes control of PG&E to create the Northern California Energy Utility District and a public benefit corporation, Northern California Energy Utility Services, to carry out day to day operations. The key provision of the bill that is relevant to Community Choice Energy is: “10623: The authority of a community choice aggregator to provide electric service within the service territory of the district shall remain as if the district were an electrical corporation.” STATUS: Triple-referred to Senate Energy, Govt & Finance, and Judiciary Committees.
SB 947 (Dodd) SUPPORT – This bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to evaluate financial performance-based incentives and performance-based metric tracking to identify mechanisms that may serve to better align electrical corporation operations, expenditures, and investments with public benefit goals. STATUS: In the Senate Energy & Utilities Committee.
SB 1215 (Stern) – SB 1215, the “California Emergency Services Act” establishes the Office of Emergency Services in the office of the Governor and provides that the office is responsible for the state’s emergency and disaster response services for natural, technological, or manmade disasters and emergencies. Creates a grant program for microgrids. STATUS: In Senate, double-referred to the Governmental Organization and Energy Committees.
SB 1240 (Skinner) SUPPORT – This bill would require the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the California Independent System Operator, to identify and evaluate options for transforming the electrical corporations’ (Investor Owned Utilities’) distribution grids into more open access platforms that would allow local governments and other third parties to participate more easily in grid activities, as provided. The bill would require the commission to update the identification and evaluation at least once every two years. The bill would require the commission, beginning January 1, 2022, and biennially thereafter, to submit to the Legislature a report on the identification and evaluation of options. The Climate Center is a sponsor of this bill. For more details, see Kurt Johnson’s blog about this bill. STATUS: In Senate – referred to Senate Energy Committee.
SB 1258 (Stern) WATCH – Titled the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act, this bill would enact the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act to require the California Infrastructure Bank (IBank), in consultation with specified agencies to administer the Climate Catalyst Revolving Fund, which the bill would establish to provide financial assistance to eligible climate catalyst projects. STATUS: In the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.
SB 1314 (Dodd) SUPPORT – SB 1314, the Community Energy Resilience Act of 2020, would require the Strategic Growth Council to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. The bill would set forth guiding principles for plan development, including equitable access to reliable energy, as provided, and integration with other existing local planning documents. The bill would require a plan to, among other things, ensure a reliable electricity supply is maintained at critical facilities and identify areas most likely to experience a loss of electrical service. The bill would require the council to establish a stakeholder review board to provide statewide oversight for purposes of the grant program. The bill would require a local government, as a condition of receiving grant funding, to submit its plan and a report of project expenditures to the stakeholder review board within six months of completing the plan. The bill would require the stakeholder review board to annually report specified information about the grant program to the Legislature. The Climate Center is a sponsor of this bill. For more details, see Kurt Johnson’s blog about this bill. STATUS: Double-referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees.

Legislative Update for March 12, 2020

Below are several selected upcoming committee hearings and several, but not all, of the key bills we are tracking. For a complete list of the 44 bills we are currently tracking in 2020, click HERE. Please send updates, suggestions, corrections to info[at]cleanpowerexchange.org. Our next update will be published here on March 26.

SPECIAL NOTE: Due to the Corona Virus situation, legislative hearings are being canceled. Please check committee websites for latest updates.

Key Committees and Committee Hearings
Assembly Bills

AB 56 (Garcia) OPPOSE – This holdover bill from 2019 would empower the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to order energy procurement based on real or perceived shortcomings in the Integrated Resource Plans submitted by Investor Owned Utilities, Direct Access providers, and CCAs. The bill will allow the CPUC to require procurement on any perceived deficiency that may be 12 years in the future. This makes no sense, given that so much lead time would allow a CCA to address any potential problem. This bill needlessly expands the CPUC energy procurement ordering authority and forces the State Treasurer’s Office to take on unwanted energy procurement responsibilities. This bill will financially harm ratepayers by saddling them with expensive and unnecessary long-term energy contracts, compromise local efforts to reach higher greenhouse gas reduction goals, and strip away local energy decision making from 170 cities and counties that are currently serving more than 10 million people through Community Choice Energy. Read the Center’s July 2019 Letter of Opposition, which remains relevant.

STATUS: In the Senate Energy Committee. No activity since 2019.

AB 235 (Mayes) WATCH – This 2019 holdover bill would allow PG&E to issue bonds to cover 2017, 2018 wildfire liabilities that ratepayers could ultimately have to pay for, and allows the CPUC to arbitrarily set a limit on the amount a transmission & distribution utility must pay as a result of catastrophic wildfire that may have been the result of their infrastructure.

STATUS: In the Senate Committee process. No activity since 2019.

AB 345 (Muratsuchi) SUPPORT – This bill will, if enacted, establish regulations to protect public health and safety near oil and gas extraction facilities,  including a minimum setback distance between oil and gas activities and sensitive receptors such as schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, residences, hospitals, and health clinics. See The Climate Center’s Letter of Support.

STATUS: In the Senate. Read first time. Sent to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment to a policy committee.

AB 1839 (Bonta) WATCH – The “Green New Deal” bill. Introduced on January 6, this bill would create the California Green New Deal Council with a specified membership appointed by the Governor. The bill would require the California Green New Deal Council to submit a specified report to the Legislature no later than January 1, 2022. So far the plan is scant on specifics including how goals will be met or how much the State will pay to meet those goals.

STATUS: Introduced in January 6. No committee assignment yet. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.  The Climate Center is still assessing the bill and has not yet taken a position.

AB 1847 (Levine) WATCH – This bill would authorize the CPUC (contingent on the Commission finding that an electrical corporation is not complying with State law, rules, or regulations) to appoint a public administrator to the electrical corporation for a period not to exceed 180 days. The bill would vest the public administrator with oversight authority over the electrical corporation’s activities that impact public safety. See the bill author’s factsheet.

STATUS: In the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee. No hearing date set.

AB 2689 (Kalra) WATCH – This bill updates Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) confidentiality provisions to allow a broader range of market experts to participate in complex IOU cost recovery proceedings and supports California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) oversight to protect customers from unreasonable or unjustified IOU rate increases. California IOU electric generation rates have increased 49% since 2013. Between 2008 and 2018, IOU customer rates doubled from $29.3 billion to $59.3 billion per year. AB 2689 would result in greater IOU accountability and improved consumer protection, safety, and affordability. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill.

STATUS: In the Assembly Rules Committee.

AB 2789 (Kamlager) WATCH – This bill would appropriate $1,500,000 and require the CPUC, in consultation with the CA Energy Commission, to request the California Council on Science and Technology to undertake and complete a study, as specified, relative to electrical grid outages and cost avoidance resulting from deployment of eligible renewable energy resources, battery storage systems, and demand response technologies. The bill would require the PUC to report the results of the study to the Legislature by January 1, 2022.

STATUS: Set for a hearing on March 25 in the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee

AB 3014 (Muratsuchi) WATCH – This bill evolves the state’s resource adequacy (RA) program to improve the reliability of California electric supply. Specifically, this bill creates the Central Reliability Authority (CRA), a non-profit public benefit corporation, to purchase residual RA needed to meet state requirements while still allowing load-serving entities (LSEs), such as Community Choice Agencies (CCAs), to maintain their procurement autonomy. The newly created CRA also reduces costly RA purchases currently undertaken by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and greatly enhances the RA market. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill.

STATUS: In the Assembly Rules Committee.

AB 3021 (Ting) – This bill would appropriate $300,000,000 per fiscal year in the 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23 fiscal years from the General Fund to the California Energy Commission to administer a program to provide resiliency grant funding and technical assistance to local educational agencies for the installation of energy storage systems.

STATUS: Double-referred to Education and Natural Resources committees.

AB 3251 (Bauer-Kahan) WATCH – This bill would require that charging of energy storage systems be treated as load in calculations for demand response programs, and that capacity from energy storage systems installed on the customer side of the meter be allowed to be aggregated for purposes of determining resource adequacy capacity; and electricity exported to the grid from the customer side of the meter be allowed to count toward the capacity obligations of load-serving entities.

STATUS: In Assembly, referred to Asm Energy Committee. Set for hearing on March 25.

Senate Bills

SB 45 (Allen, et al) SUPPORT – Dubbed the “Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020.” This is a proposed $5.51 billion general obligation bond to be placed on the November 3, 2020 statewide general election. Specifically, $570 million will be made available for climate resiliency initiatives including microgrids, distributed generation, storage systems, in-home backup power, and community resiliency centers such as cooling centers, clean air centers, hydration stations, and emergency shelters. The bill includes a provision for grants to local agencies, state agencies, special districts, joint powers authorities, tribes, and vulnerable populations to incentivize installation of microgrids, distributed generation and storage systems, or in-home backup power systems, powered by clean energy systems that provide continuity of electrical service in response to, or anticipation of, disruption due to public safety power shutoffs, wildfire, or other disaster.

STATUS: Passed out of Senate, in the Assembly. Held at the desk.

SB 350 (Hertzberg) OPPOSE – This bill would “authorize the CPUC to consider a multiyear centralized resource adequacy mechanism,” meaning, a central buyer, which would encroach on CCA statutory authority on procurement autonomy. This bill is a tandem bill with AB 56.

STATUS: In the Assembly committee process. No activity since 2019.

SB 378 (Wiener) WATCH – Would establish customer and local government protections related to Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) incidents. Specifically, the bill requires IOUs to provide annual reports to the Wildfire Safety Division within the CPUC on the condition of their electrical equipment and provide maintenance logs to assess fire safety risk. The bill also requires the CPUC to develop procedures for consumers and local governments to recover costs from IOUs accrued during PSPS events, improves PSPS notification procedures, and makes IOUs subject to civil fines if the CPUC determines that the IOU failed to act in a reasonable and prudent manner.

STATUS: Voted out of Sen. Approps Committee on Jan. 23. Heard on Assembly floor January 27, but being held pending committee referral.

SB 702 (Hill) – This bill would amend section 399.13 of the Public Utilities Code to authorize a retail seller of electricity to rely on contracts of 10 years or more in duration or ownership agreements entered into directly by its end-use customer for eligible renewable energy resources located on the customer side of the meter to satisfy the portion of the 65% requirement attributable to the retail sales of that end-use customer.

STATUS: Out of the Senate as of January 23. Now in Assembly. Read first time. Held pending committee referral.

SB 774 (Stern) WATCH – SB 774 would require IOUs to collaborate with the State’s Office of Emergency of Services and others to identify where back-up electricity sources may provide increased electrical distribution grid resiliency and would allow the IOUs to file applications with the CPUC to invest in, and deploy, microgrids to increase resiliency. Concerns focus on too much control being placed in the hands of the IOUs over microgrid development when other LSEs and stakeholders can and should play a role.

STATUS: In the Assembly committee process with no committee assignment and no hearing date.

SB-801 (Glazer, McGuire) – Electrical corporations: wildfire mitigation plans: de-energization: public safety protocol. This bill would require an electrical corporation to deploy backup electrical resources or provide financial assistance for backup electrical resources to a customer receiving a medical baseline allowance if the customer meets those conditions.

STATUS: In the Senate Energy Committee set for March 17 hearing. Removed from agenda.

SB 917 (Wiener) WATCH – This bill renames the California Consumer Energy and Conservation Financing Authority and via eminent domain takes control of PG&E to create the Northern California Energy Utility District and a public benefit corporation, Northern California Energy Utility Services, to carry out day to day operations. The key provision of the bill that is relevant to Community Choice Energy is: “10623: The authority of a community choice aggregator to provide electric service within the service territory of the district shall remain as if the district were an electrical corporation.”

STATUS: On February 12, triple-referred to Senate Energy, Govt & Finance, and Judiciary Committees.

SB 947 (Dodd) SUPPORT – This bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to evaluate financial performance-based incentives and performance-based metric tracking to identify mechanisms that may serve to better align electrical corporation operations, expenditures, and investments with public benefit goals.

STATUS: Hearing set for March 17 in Senate Energy Committee  Postponed due to Corona Virus.

SB 1215 (Stern) – SB 1215, the “California Emergency Services Act” establishes the Office of Emergency Services in the office of the Governor and provides that the office is responsible for the state’s emergency and disaster response services for natural, technological, or manmade disasters and emergencies.

STATUS: In Senate, double-referred to the Governmental Organization and Energy Committees.

SB 1240 (Skinner) SUPPORT – This bill would require the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the California Independent System Operator, to identify and evaluate options for transforming the electrical corporations’ (Investor Owned Utilities’) distribution grids into more open access platforms that would allow local governments and other third parties to participate more easily in grid activities, as provided. The bill would require the commission to update the identification and evaluation at least once every two years. The bill would require the commission, beginning January 1, 2022, and biennially thereafter, to submit to the Legislature a report on the identification and evaluation of options. The Climate Center is a sponsor of this bill. For more details, see Kurt Johnson’s blog in this edition of e-news.

STATUS: In Senate – referred to Senate Energy Committee. Scheduled for a hearing on March 31.

SB 1258 (Stern) WATCH – Titled the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act, this bill would enact the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act to require the California Infrastructure Bank (IBank), in consultation with specified agencies to administer the Climate Catalyst Revolving Fund, which the bill would establish to provide financial assistance to eligible climate catalyst projects.

STATUS: Set for a hearing in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee on March 30.

SB 1314 (Dodd) SUPPORT – SB 1314, the Community Energy Resilience Act of 2020, would require the Strategic Growth Council to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. The bill would set forth guiding principles for plan development, including equitable access to reliable energy, as provided, and integration with other existing local planning documents. The bill would require a plan to, among other things, ensure a reliable electricity supply is maintained at critical facilities and identify areas most likely to experience a loss of electrical service. The bill would require the council to establish a stakeholder review board to provide statewide oversight for purposes of the grant program. The bill would require a local government, as a condition of receiving grant funding, to submit its plan and a report of project expenditures to the stakeholder review board within six months of completing the plan. The bill would require the stakeholder review board to annually report specified information about the grant program to the Legislature. The Climate Center is a sponsor of this bill. For more details, see Kurt Johnson’s blog in this edition of e-news.

STATUS: Double-referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees. It is calendared for the Natural Resources Committee on April 14; Energy Committee, April 21.