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California Energy Bills Move Despite Budget Crisis

July 13, 2009
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Even though California utilities have been spending billions of dollars pushing renewables and energy efficiency while preparing for stringent greenhouse gas (GHG) emission restrictions that start in 2012, a host of legislative proposals dealing with all of those issues and more were kicked around in an all-day meeting of the state Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee last Tuesday. Most of the 34 items passed.

Despite the ongoing state budget crisis, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger continued a push to reorganize state government, which includes merging various state agencies' energy duties into one cabinet-level energy department..

A veteran energy lobbyist in Sacramento told NGI that passage of some version of the governor's reorganization plan is "definitely a possibility" at this point in the legislative session that ends in September. "The governor has pushed for the various reorganization proposals as part of the budget process including the energy reorganization, and he reiterated the need for the reorganization in a recent letter outlining what must be included in any renewable portfolio standard [RPS] bill to get his signature," the lobbyist said.

The lobbyist, who attended Tuesday's Senate energy committee meeting, said the legislature has a "full plate" when it comes to energy proposals at this time, despite the unresolved budget issues. He does not think the budget situation is going to affect the energy proposals this year.

"In listening to the debates, it doesn't appear as if members believe there is any reason to withhold moving energy proposals forward," the lobbyist said.

Some legislation deals with further fine-tuning the state's renewable and energy efficiency programs, such as a proposal to create feed-in tariffs (AB 1106). Amended versions of several of the measures were passed and sent on through the legislative process. One bill that would revise aspects of the state renewable goals leading up to a 33% renewable requirement by the end of 2020 (AB 64) was sent back to the Senate Rules Committee for further clarification.

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