CPX Legislative update for September 19, 2019

Check back frequently for updates during legislative sessions (January – October every year).

Updated 9/19/19

Legislative Calendar Check: The legislature adjourned on September 13. The governor has until October 13 to sign bills. We will issue two more legislative updates on October 3 and 17, and then will be on break until the legislature resumes business in January 2020. In the meantime, visit the CPX legislative page for occasional updates.

In this 2019 session we are monitored about 29 energy and/or climate-related bills, not all of which would directly impact Community Choice Energy. Below is a selection of highlighted bills with a brief summary, the Center’s position, if any, and the status of the bill.

Two-year bills that will come back in 2020:

AB 56 (Garcia) OPPOSE – This bill will empower the CPUC to order energy procurement based on real or perceived shortcomings in the Integrated Resource Plan submitted by Investor Owned Utilities, Direct Access providers, and CCAs. The bill will allow the CPUC to require procurement on any perceived deficiency that may be 10 to 12 years out in the future. This makes no sense, given that so much lead time would allow a CCA to address any potential problem. Read the Center’s updated July Letter of OppositionStatus: Two-year bill.

AB 235 (Mayes) – This bill was amended recently to allow PG&E to issue bonds to cover 2017, 2018 wildfire liabilities that ratepayers could ultimately have to pay for, and allows the CPUC to arbitrarily set a limit on the amount a transmission & distribution utility must pay as a result of catastrophic wildfire that may have been the result of their infrastructure. Status: AB 235 is now a two-year bill.

SB 246 (Wieckowski) – Read our Support Letter. – This bill, if enacted as written, will impose an oil and gas severance tax on the privilege of extracting oil or fossil gas from the earth or water in California upon any operator engaged in such extraction. Status: Two-year bill. It will be brought back in January 2020.

SB 350 (Hertzberg) OPPOSE – This bill would “authorize the CPUC to consider a multiyear centralized resource adequacy mechanism,” meaning, a central buyer, which would encroach on CCA statutory authority on procurement autonomy. This bill was a tandem bill with AB 56 that is also a tw0-year bill. Status: Two-year bill.

SB 386 (Caballero) – Two-year bill. Read our Letter of Opposition. This bill would allow Turlock, Modesto, and Merced Irrigation Districts to count their large hydro assets (dams) toward their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) obligations. This would significantly impact progress with new renewables. These Irrigation Districts will already be able to count their dams as carbon-free pursuant to state policy on decarbonization and mechanisms are in place to protect low-income communities from any cost burdens. Status: On May 30 Senator Caballero announced that SB 386 would be a two-year bill. Expect the fight to continue in early 2020.

SB-772 (Bradford) – Two-year bill. Relates to procurement of long duration bulk energy storage. Concerns center on forcing the hand of CCA procurement. Status: On May 30 the bill was ordered to the inactive file on request of Senator Bradford.

SB 774 (Stern) – Two-year bill. SB 774 would require IOUs to collaborate with the State’s Office of Emergency of Services and others to identify where back-up electricity sources may provide increased electrical distribution grid resiliency and would allow the IOUs to file applications with the CPUC to invest in, and deploy, microgrids to increase resiliency. Concerns focus on too much control being placed in the hands of the IOUs over microgrid development when other LSEs and stakeholders can and should play a role. Status: At the request of the author, SB 774 was placed in the inactive file on July 8.

Bills we opposed that were enacted:

AB 1054 (Holden, Mayes, Burke) – Enacted: This 200-page bill was fast-tracked through the legislature. In addition to encumbering ratepayers with nonbypassable charges for more than a decade just as they were set to expire, and no safeguard against rate increases, the bill includes a clause that is completely outside of any wildfire concern, and it impacts Community Choice agencies. The clause empowers the CPUC to obstruct sales of IOU assets to other load serving entities and public entities. This could hobble local governments wanting to launch their own municipal service, and/or emerging CCAs that may benefit by acquiring assets that the IOUs no longer want or need. Status: AB 1054 passed out of the legislature on July 11 and was signed by the governor. It is now being challenged in federal court by two PG&E customers on grounds that it may allow for ratepayer funds to be used to pay for cost increases due to PG&E negligence.

AB 1584 (Quirk) – Until recently this bill would have impinged on Community Choice agency’s statutory procurement authority. Due to recent amendments, CalCCA has shifted to a neutral position. We remain opposed due to the original mal-intent of the bill and our assessment that there is no compelling merit to the current version of the bill. Status: The bill made it through its final vote on Sept 10 and is on the governor’s desk.

SB 155 (Bradford) – This bill expands CPUC’s authority over CCA procurement and Integrated Resource Plans. Read the Center’s July Letter of Opposition. Due to amendments made in early July, CalCCA has shifted to a neutral position. We remain opposed. Status: SB 155 made it through its final votes in both houses on Sept 10 and 11 and is on the governor’s desk.

SB-520 (Hertzberg) This bill empowers the CPUC to determine what load serving entity should serve as the provider of last resort (POLR). Currently IOUs serve as the provider of last resort in their service territories. A big problem with the bill is that it gives the IOUs veto control over the POLR application process. If another LSE (e.g., a CCA) wants to become the POLR, the incumbent IOU must agree to the application submitted to the CPUC, which is unacceptable. This bill is a step in the wrong direction. It gives the existing utilities control over whether they continue to have the exclusive right to serve as the utility and gives them control over who if anyone would take over the role of POLR. Why should the State hand over that kind of decision-making authority to the existing utilities? We are concerned that over time, this will make the utilities less accountable. We encourage firm opposition to this bill in its current form. Status: SB 520 The bill was made it through its final votes in both houses on Sept 10 and 11 and is on the governor’s desk.

SB 676 (Bradford) – This bill would require the CPUC, by December 31, 2020, in an existing proceeding, to establish strategies and quantifiable metrics to maximize the use of feasible and cost-effective electric vehicle grid integration. Based on amendments made in early July, CalCCA has shifted to a neutral position. Status: SB 676 made it through both houses and is on the governor’s desk.

Bills we supported that were enacted:

AB 684 (Levine) – Read our Support Letter. Rules proposed in this bill would ensure that the infrastructure necessary for EV charging in multi-family dwellings is codified through multi-family building standards. Status: AB 684 made it through its final votes on Sept 9 and 10 and is on the governor’s desk.

Unclear:

AB 1046 (Ting) – Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. Read our Letter of Support. This bill requires the California Air Resources Board to develop a plan to provide for the continuous funding of a program with a goal of supporting deployment of 5 million electric vehicles by December 2030. Status: AB 1046 was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 30 and is being held under submission, an action taken by a committee when a bill is heard in committee and there is an indication that the author and the committee members want to work on or discuss the bill further, but there is no motion for the bill to progress out of committee. It is not clear whether this bill is dead or a two-year bill. Update coming soon.

For the complete list of bills we monitored in 2019 click HERE.  Next CPX legislation update will be on Thursday, October 3rd.

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