Hoping last week’s transmission emergency that resulted in isolated rolling blackouts will make a difference, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday reintroduced his plan to reorganize the state’s scattered energy functions into one cabinet-level Energy Department.
The latest proposal (AB 1165) would consolidate staff and functions of several departments, commissions and offices. It is similar to earlier proposals rejected by a nonpartisan state commission and the state legislative leadership.
Similar to the governor’s broader government reorganization proposal released last May, the intent of this revised proposal is “to make government more accountable to the people, make energy policy more cohesive, reduce duplication and improve communications with the legislature, stakeholders and the people,” according to an announcement from Schwarzenegger’s office.
“The people and businesses of California deserve a stable, affordable and reliable source of energy,” said Schwarzenegger. “Last week’s transmission line hiccup should be a wake-up call to us all that more generation and more transmission are badly needed and this reform will help achieve those goals.
“We need to streamline the state’s energy bureaucracy, and implement a comprehensive strategy that will address California’s needs. I look forward to working with the legislature to overhaul our dysfunctional energy system.”
To date, state lawmakers have ignored the governor’s reorganization plans, which include folding the California Energy Commission (CEC) under the newly formed energy department with the head of that department being a member of the five-member CEC. The legislation also would transfer high voltage transmission line siting from the California Public Utilities Commission to the CEC.
The CEC, the defunct state power authority, the Electricity Oversight board, and the energy scheduling portion of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) would all be consolidated in the new department, which the state’s Little Hoover Commission urged the legislature to reject earlier this year (see Power Market Today, June 27).
Schwarzenegger has repeatedly pushed the need for more transmission capacity in the state, and last week, he sent a letter to the state legislature, outlining his comprehensive energy policy goals, which are pretty much as they have been all year.
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