As California’s state legislature starts its final week Tuesday with several renewable energy and resource adequacy issues on its plate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revitalized proposal to reorganize the state’s energy bureaucracy into a cabinet-level energy department has been put off until next year’s second part of the current two-year session. The governor’s eleventh-hour attempt to push a proposal that was earlier in the year rejected as part of a new bill (AB 1165) was set aside by a legislative committee last week.

Meanwhile, the governor’s year-old push for a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar solar energy bill (SB 1) is scheduled to go back before the lower house Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee on Wednesday in Sacramento. At the end of last week amendments were still being made to the proposal and major utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the solar industry, itself, were still unsure they could support the legislation.

Two major stumbling blocks are the cost of the program, for which the latest amendments were attempting to remove a $1.8 billion cap on the cost of the program’s subsidies over the next ten years, and the solar industry’s concern with the current requirements for prevailing wage and union contractors for eligible solar installers. Late Friday one utility source said it was still uncertain whether SB 1 could be supported when it comes up Wednesday, two days before the close of the legislature until December.

Schwarzenegger, an original proponent for the solar bill, is opposed to the existing prevailing wage requirements for prospective contractors.

The governor tried to make another push for creating a state cabinet-level energy department last Wednesday when he reintroduced a variation of his earlier-rejected proposal (see Power Market Today, Sept. 1).

While SB 1 continued to receive support for its overall goal of installing abut 3,000 MW of rooftop solar systems on homes and businesses over the next ten years, other key issues faced an uncertain future as the lawmakers moved into their final week of action. The other bills that were still alive last week include: an updated statewide renewable portfolio standard (SB 107), electricity resource adequacy levels (SB 380), and establishing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) siting review process (AB 426) centered in the California Energy Commission.

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