The prolonged legislative stalemate that has left California without a budget six weeks after the July 1 deadline threatens to prevent any other legislation from being passed this session, which is slated to end in early September, leaving several major energy proposals to be taken up next year.
Proposals to concentrate liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility siting in the California Energy Commission (CEC), ban incandescent light bulbs after a given year, and push solar water heating in the state all may have to be revived next year, as so-called two-year bills.
Set to come back from an abbreviated summer recess, state lawmakers in both houses have canceled all hearings on proposed legislation that had been set for Aug. 20-24, leaving only one week to get bills out of appropriations committees in each house before an Aug. 31 deadline.
A veteran Sacramento lobbyist in the energy sector said the legislature would most likely hold hearings the second week it is back from recess, but it is suspected that there will need to be a resolution of the budget stalemate between the lawmakers and the governor before any work on other legislation is resumed.
In June the legislature moved Senate Bill 412 out of the Senate to the lower house Assembly. The proposal would effectively delay for another year action on a proposed LNG receiving site, pending a broad natural gas needs study by the CEC. Major energy utilities in the state are skeptical because of some of the bill’s provisions.
SB 412 author Sen. Joe Simitian has characterized the legislation as attempting to set a review and approval process for the pending LNG terminal proposals, of which there are four offshore and one slated for Long Beach harbor, but the onshore proposal and at least one of the offshore sites have been rejected by state or local authorities so far.
The solar water heating bill (AB 1470) passed out of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee on a 6-3 vote in the spring 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 light bulb 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.
Subsequently, with an amendment to stop it from being an outright ban on the sale of less efficient incandescent light bulbs, AB 722 passed out of the lower house California Assembly. Rather than establishing a ban on a particular bulb, the revised AB 722 would set an efficiency standard for bulbs.
“It just so happens that current incandescent bulbs would not be able to meet the proposed standards, but the industry tells us there may be new incandescent bulbs that would meet the requirements in two to three years,” according to a spokesperson for Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, the chief author of the proposed light bulb requirements. The bill’s effective date is now to be phased in with increasingly tough standards in four steps between 2010 and 2016; previously the ban was targeted for 2012.
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