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Updates to energy related bills in the 2017-2018 California legislative session


By Brian Nese, Parissa Florez and Kimberly HellwigStoel Rives’ Energy Team has been monitoring and providing summaries of key energy-related bills introduced by California legislators since the beginning of the 2017-2018 Legislative Session. June 2, 2017 was the deadline by which the legislature was required to pass bills out of the house of origin.  Failing to meet that deadline does not automatically prevent a bill from proceeding through the legislative process; however, such failure will prevent the bill from being considered by the full legislature or the Governor during the first half of the Legislative Session.  Below is a summary of bills we have been following that have most recently changed.  We will continue to monitor and update these energy-related bills as the legislative session proceeds.

Assembly Bills

AB 79 (Levine, D): Electrical generation: hourly greenhouse gas emissions: electricity from unspecified sources.
STATUS: Ordered to Senate June 1, 2017.

  • Initially introduced as a bill to decrease the amount energy consumed from coal-fired generation resources, AB 79 was revamped to require, by January 1, 2019, the State Air Resources Board (CARB), in consultation with the Independent System Operator (ISO), to regularly update its methodology for the calculation of emissions of greenhouse gases associated with electricity from unspecified sources. The bill would require the CPUC and the CEC to incorporate the methodology into programs addressing the disclosure of the emissions of greenhouse gases and the procurement of electricity by entities under the respective jurisdiction of each.

AB 457 (Cunningham, R): Saline water conversion: Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant.
STATUS: Ordered to Senate June 1, 2017.

  • AB 457 was introduced solely to enact legislation requiring a feasibility study of repurposing of local water produced by water desalinization facility at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.
    • As amended, this bill now proposes to require the CPUC, as part of the commission’s regulatory actions related to the proposed decommissioning of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and consistent with the goal to mitigate negative impacts to ratepayers, to cause a study to be conducted on the feasibility of repurposing the water desalination facility at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant for purposes of desalinating water for local use.

AB 546 (Chiu, D): Land use: local ordinances: energy systems.
STATUS: Ordered to Senate June 1, 2017.

  • Existing law, the Planning and Zoning Law, among other things, requires the legislative body of each county and city to adopt a general plan for the physical development of the county or city and authorizes the adoption and administration of zoning laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations by counties and cities and requires a city, county, or city and county to approve an application for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, as defined, through the issuance of specified permits unless the city or county makes specified written findings. Existing law further provides that the implementation of consistent statewide standards to achieve the timely and cost-effective installation of electric vehicle charging stations is a matter of statewide concern.
    • If passed, AB 546 would require on or before September 30, 2018, for a city, county, or city and county with a population of 200,000 or more residents, or January 31, 2019, for a city, county, or city and county with a population of less than 200,000 residents, require the city, county, or city and county to make all documentation and forms associated with the permitting of advanced energy storage available on a publicly accessible Internet Web site.
    • In addition, AB 546 would authorize the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to provide guidance on energy storage permitting, including streamlining, best practices, and potential factors for consideration by local government in establishing fees for permitting and inspection.

AB 634 (Eggman, D) Real property; solar energy systems.
STATUS: Ordered to Senate May 15, 2017.

  • Previously a bill related to employment agencies, now AB 634 specifies that an association may not establish a general policy prohibiting the installation or use of a rooftop solar energy system for household purposes on the roof of the building in which the owner resides and, an association may not require approval by a vote of members owning separate interests in the common interest development in those circumstances.

AB 797 (Irwin, D): Solar thermal systems.
STATUS: Ordered to Senate May 15, 2017.

  • The Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007, until August 1, 2018, requires the Public Utilities Commission, if it determines that a solar water heating program is cost effective for ratepayers and in the public interest, to implement a program to promote the installation of 200,000 solar water heating systems.
    • AB 797 would revise the program to, among other things, promote the installation of solar thermal systems throughout the state, reserve 50 percent of the total program budget for the installation of solar thermal systems in low-income residential housing or in buildings in disadvantaged communities, and extend the operation of the program through July 31, 2020.

AB 1400 (Friedman, D): Public Interest Research, Development, and Demonstration Program and Electric Program Investment Charge program: microgrid projects: diesel backup generators.    
STATUS: Ordered to Senate May 30, 2017.

  • AB 1400 was originally introduced as a bill related to migratory birds and urban wildlife. However, on March 28, the bill was completely revised.  Existing law creates in the State Treasury the Electric Program Investment Charge Fund to be administered by the Energy Commission and requires the CPUC to forward to the Energy Commission at least quarterly moneys for those EPIC programs the CPUC has determined should be administered by the Energy Commission for deposit in the fund.
    • This bill would prohibit recipients of moneys awarded under the above two programs from expending those moneys for the purchase of fossil fuel generators.

Senate Bills

SB 71 (Wiener, D):  Electricity: solar energy systems.
STATUS:  Ordered to Assembly June 1, 2017

  • Originally introduced as a bill relating to the installation of solar photovoltaic systems or solar water heating systems in solar zones, SB 71 was revised and now focuses on the requirement of solar electric or solar thermal systems to be installed in the solar zone. Existing regulations on building standards require certain residential and nonresidential buildings to have a solar zone, as defined, on the roof of the building that is designated and reserved for solar electric or solar thermal systems and that meets certain specifications relating to minimum area, orientation, and shading, among other things.
    • If passed into law, SB 71 would require the Energy Commission to consider requiring, and would authorize the Energy Commission to update the building efficiency standards to require, a rooftop solar energy generation system, appropriately sized to be cost effective, to be installed in the solar zone of those buildings, during the construction of those buildings, by January 1, 2020, for residential buildings, and by January 1, 2023 for non-residential buildings.

SB 338 (Skinner, D):  Net-load peak energy.
STATUS: Ordered to Senate May 30, 2017.

  • Existing law requires the CPUC to adopt a process for each load-serving entity to file an integrated resource plan and a schedule for periodic updates to the plan to ensure that the load-serving entity meets, among other things, the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and the requirement to procure at least 50 percent of its electricity from eligible renewable resources by December 31, 2030. Existing law requires a local publicly owned electric utility with an annual electrical demand exceeding 700 gigawatt hours, on or before January 1, 2019, to adopt an integrated resources plan and a process for updating the plan at least once every five years to ensure that the utility satisfies, among other things, the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and the requirement to procure at least 50 percent of its electricity from eligible renewable resources by December 31, 2030.
    • This bill would require the CPUC and the governing boards of local publicly owned electric utilities to consider establishing policies and procedures to ensure that load-serving entities or local publicly owned electric utilities meet net-load peak energy and reliability needs while reducing the need for new electricity generation and new transmission in achieving the state’s energy goals at the least cost to ratepayers.

SB 518 (De León, D): California Clean Energy Jobs Act: citizen oversight board.
STATUS: Ordered to Assembly May 31, 2017.

  • The California Clean Energy Jobs Act made changes to corporate income taxes and provided for the transfer of $550,000,000 annually from the General Fund to the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund for five fiscal years beginning with the 2013–14 fiscal year. Moneys in the fund are available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for purposes of funding eligible projects that create jobs in California improving energy efficiency and expanding clean energy generation.
    • This bill would appropriate otherwise unallocated moneys in the Job Creation Fund, as determined by the Energy Commission as of Mary 1, 2018 relating to improving energy efficiency at public schools, and community colleges.
    • In addition, commencing with the 2018-2019 fiscal year, this bill would establish the Clean Energy Job Creation Program with the purpose of funding specified projects in public schools, universities, and colleges that create jobs in California improving energy efficiency and expanding clean energy generation and would subject those projects to requirements similar to those imposed under the California Clean Energy Jobs Act.
    • Finally, the bill would extend the operation of the board and of its authority and duties indefinitely.

SB 549 (Bradford D) Public utilities: reports: moneys for maintenance, safety and reliability.
STATUS: Ordered to Assembly April 20, 2017; amended in Assembly May 31, 2017.

  • Existing law places various responsibilities upon the CPUC to ensure that public utility services are provided in a manner that protects the public safety and the safety of utility employees.
    • SB 549 would require an electrical or gas corporation to annually report to the CPUC each time that capitol or expense revenue authorized by the CPUC for maintenance,  safety  or reliability is redirected for other purposes and require the CPUC to include the report in the docket of an appropriate proceeding and serve the report pursuant to the service list of that proceeding.

SB 584 (De León). California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program.

  • The bill was revised on May 1, 2017 to state the intent of the Legislature to enact statutory changes relating to the Budget Act of 2017 and deletes all prior language relating to the requirement for all electricity to be generated by eligible renewable energy resources by December 31, 2045.
  • SB 584 was introduced as a bill that would require all electricity sold at retail to be generated by eligible renewable energy resources by December 31, 2045.  This proposed legislation is now reflected in Senate Bill 100.


This article was first published on the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law blog, and has been reprinted with permission. 

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