With far less fanfare than the recent signing of global warming legislation, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week signed an extensive energy efficiency bill (AB 2021) and eight other energy measures, but vetoed seven. In total, Schwarzenegger signed 910 measures into law and vetoed 262.

Among its final acts before adjournment this year, the California legislature passed AB 2021, establishing extensive energy efficiency programming by utilities. AB 2021 was touted by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine and other supporters as having the potential to reduce statewide electricity demand by 10% over the next 10 years, effectively offsetting the need to build 11 major power plants.

Levine argued that energy efficiency is “the only energy policy that lowers costs, creates reliability and is environmentally friendly,” and in his opinion, both the private- and the public-sector utilities should be responsible for doing their fair share to promote it.

AB 2021 would require the following:

In addition, the governor signed a number of other energy bills: SB 423, allowing new direct access when electric supplies are given to charitable organizations; AB 1632 on energy planning/forecasting; AB 1752, environmental quality; AB 2104 on state alternative rates for energy; AB 2189, covering renewables; AB 2576 for alternative rates under the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC); SB 1505 on alternative fuel from hydrogen; and AB 2723 for solar energy in low-income homes and apartments.

Schwarzenegger vetoed seven measures: SB 204, regarding members in the CPUC or California Energy Commission (CEC); AB 993 on energy efficiency training; AB 1337 on the “greening” of state office buildings; AB 2756 on energy efficiency mandated to public schools; AB 2960 on electricity procurement planning for utilities; SB 757 on oil efficiency and alternative fuels bills; and SB 1753 to require the CPUC to report on how the repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA) could hurt state consumers.

In signing the direct access electric donations to charities (SB 423), Schwarzenegger encouraged state lawmakers to fully restore direct access for all electric retail customers next year. “Restoring direct access to increase competition and lower prices is a cornerstone of my energy action plan,” Schwarzenegger said. “I have supported several legislative attempts to address this issue during my tenure, and I strongly encourage the legislature to pass legislation that reinstates direct access and increases consumer choice in California.”

In vetoing the bill that would require the CPUC to file reports on the negative impacts of the PUHCA repeal (SB 1753), the governor said the bill by Sen. Joe Dunn presupposed that PUHCA repeal has negative consequences for California consumers, “rather than the intended benefit of stimulating investment in electricity infrastructure.” He called the CPUC report that was mandated “unnecessary.”

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