California's energy policy committees in the lower house Assembly and Senate moved three energy bills on to their houses' respective appropriations committees following action Monday and Tuesday. Included is a solar water heating bill designed to make a concerted run at displacing natural gas-fired water heating, which is the most common source of water heating in the state (see Daily GPI, April 25).

The water heating bill (AB 1470) passed out of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee on a 6-3 vote, with a number of solar energy and environmental groups supporting it, and lone opposition from Sempra Energy, the nation's largest natural gas distributor through its two utilities, Southern California Gas Co. and San Diego Gas and Electric Co.

Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, chair of the utilities/commerce panel, got his proposal (AB 722) to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012 out of committee and also passed on to the Appropriations Committee.

Finally, a proposal (SB 412) was heard to redesign California's state review of proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal sites, centered on the California Energy Commission (CEC) having the power to study and determine the need for any given project. The measure was passed out of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee, with no specific date yet set for its hearing.

SB 412 would establish the LNG Terminal Evaluation Act to "make a LNG needs assessment study that assesses demand and supply for natural gas and alternatives to natural gas to meet energy demands and to determine the number of LNG terminals, if any, needed to meet the state's projected natural gas demand." The CEC would be designated to do this as an extension of its existing role developing California's biennial integrated energy policy report (IEPR).

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