Citing its job-creation benefits, California Gov. Jerry Brown Monday asked state regulators to restore programs set to expire at the end of this year because state lawmakers failed to pass bills aimed a extending a public goods charge on private-sector utility customer bills.
The monthly surcharge, averaging less than $2 on a typical residential customer bill, supports energy research and development (R&D), including renewable energy programs. Two bills (AB 724 and SB 870) that were shot down in the final days of the legislative session aimed to extend the charge another 10 years (see Daily GPI, Sept.13).
The measures had received backing from Brown, who characterized the surcharge-supported programs as a job-creating mechanism. Environment California, a Sacramento-based environmental advocacy group, criticized lawmakers for failing to extend the state’s 10-year-old public goods charge.
Brown sent a letter to the head of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Michael Peevey, requesting that he take action so “critical clean energy programs,” as supported by the monthly surcharge, can be maintained beyond the end of this year. “I request that you take action under the CPUC’s authority to ensure that programs like those supported by the public goods charge are instituted — and hopefully at their current levels,” Brown said in his letter.
Even while being openly critical of the Democratic-controlled state legislature, Brown, a Democratic governor, asked Peevey and the CPUC to incorporate “constructive ideas” for the public goods charge-supported programs that emerged from the legislative process of AB 724 and SB 870. “Program reforms were identified during the legislative process as well as ways to create jobs swiftly through investment in energy savings retrofits.”
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