Bills covering liquefied natural gas (LNG), bans on incandescent light bulbs and solar water heating are buried in committees in the California legislature as it moves toward its final week before scheduled adjournment Sept. 14. Only a proposal on customer-produced renewable power generation (SB 451) appeared on Thursday to have any chance of passage, according to a veteran energy industry lobbyist in Sacramento.

Energy legislation has been locked up in “suspension files” in committees in both the state Senate and lower house Assembly, including the LNG bill (SB 412), which would mandate a formal natural gas assessment and comparison of proposed terminals by the California Energy Commission (CEC); the solar water heating incentive bill (AB 1470) and the proposal to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012 (AB 722).

The LNG proposal received editorial attention in the Los Angeles Times Thursday, under the heading “Terminal Stupidity,” criticizing the legislature and urging it to act on SB 412, which orders the CEC to “assess whether the state really needs an LNG terminal given other sources of supply, such as a [Sempra Energy] terminal being built in Baja California.

“It is hard to imagine why anyone not in the pay of the energy companies proposing to build LNG terminals would oppose this legislation, yet after passing through the Senate and two Assembly committees, it is now being held in Assembly Appropriations Committee,” the LA Times editorialized. The newspaper speculated that the inaction was either due to LNG construction union lobbying, which blocked the bill last year, or to”childish bickering” among state lawmakers.

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.

In the meantime, SB 451 was headed for its third and final reading on the Assembly floor before a Thursday vote. It would establish that each power utility would have to pay for customer-generated renewable-based electricity up to its share of an overall statewide 1,000 MW cap for distributed renewable power supplies. Every kilowatt-hour of renewable power produced by a customer’s facilities, including power used by the customer to offset what it gets from the utility, would count toward the utility’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) goal.

A second energy bill still alive, SB1017, would allow a Northern California public-sector utility, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), to get its current power suppliers to transport electricity that EBMUD produces from its own generation facilities. That bill is set to go to the Assembly floor.

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