Legislative Update for April 30, 2020

The legislature plans to resume the 2020 session on May 4th. The nature of these hearings, how members will participate, and how the public will be able to engage, is still being resolved.

As the California legislature prepares to return May 4 under pressure to pass a state budget and respond to a new coronavirus world, legislators and lobbyists alike are discussing monumental changes to Sacramento business like remote voting and limited in-person testimony to protect constituents and the lawmakers themselves. Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) made a strong appeal this week to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to consider remote voting to protect people at high risk. He wrote that “failure to make accommodations for legislators who are over 65 years old, pregnant, immunocompromised, or care for children or loved ones who are at risk or otherwise vulnerable raises serious concerns around democracy, representation, and equity.”

Unlike the State Senate, the Assembly did not vote to allow remote voting before it adjourned last month. That has led to anxiety among some Assemblymembers and staff as the resumption of session approaches. Meanwhile, lawmakers are champing at the bit to return to work. “While we agree with your decision to adjourn during the height of the pandemic, it is critical that we soon resume our legislative business so that we can pass the state budget by June 15th, address the pandemic, and tackle urgent legislative issues,’’ Quirk wrote in his letter, which has been signed by 20 legislators to date. “Failure to provide robust options for remote participation by members of the public raises similar concerns,’’ he wrote.

Since mid-March, three special sessions have been held solely to discus COVID-related matters.
  • A Senate hearing was held on 4/16. View the recording HERE.
  • The Assembly has scheduled two hearings as well – One was held on Monday, 4/20 at 10am (RECORDING) and the other on Monday, 4/27. Both live-streamed and recorded on the Assembly website.

Below is the list of several, but not all of the key bills that we are tracking, including bills that The Climate Center has taken a public position on. For a complete list of the 121 bills we are currently tracking in 2020, click HERE. It is our understanding that due to the disruption of the normal session, it is unlikely that many of these bills will be enacted this session. Only critically important policy related to the COVID19 crisis, homelessness, and wildfire are in the high priority list. Our next update will be published here on April 30. Please send updates, suggestions, corrections to woody@theclimatecenter.org


Bills we are tracking:


Assembly Bills

AB 345 (Muratsuchi) SUPPORT – This bill will, if enacted, establish regulations to protect public health and safety near oil and gas extraction facilities,  including a minimum setback distance between oil and gas activities and sensitive receptors such as schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, residences, hospitals, and health clinics. See The Climate Center’s Letter of Support. STATUS: In the Senate. Read first time. Sent to the Senate Rules Committee for assignment to a policy committee.


AB 1839 (Bonta) WATCH – The “Green New Deal” bill. Introduced on January 6, this bill would create the California Green New Deal Council with a specified membership appointed by the Governor. The bill would require the California Green New Deal Council to submit a specified report to the Legislature no later than January 1, 2022. So far the plan is scant on specifics including how goals will be met or how much the State will pay to meet those goals.In STATUS: In Asm, referred to Comm. on Natural Resources. on 4/24


AB 1847 (Levine) WATCH – This bill would authorize the CPUC (contingent on the Commission finding that an electrical corporation is not complying with State law, rules, or regulations) to appoint a public administrator to the electrical corporation for a period not to exceed 180 days. The bill would vest the public administrator with oversight authority over the electrical corporation’s activities that impact public safety. See the bill author’s factsheet. STATUS: In the Assembly Utilities & Energy Committee. No hearing date set.

AB 2145 (Ting) WATCH – This bill would state the intent of the legislature to enact legislation to reform the electric vehicle charging infrastructure approval process employed by the CPUC to help ensure that by 2030 California will safely install enough EV charging ports to meet the demand through public and private investment. STATUS: In Assembly, referred to the Asm U&E committee on 4/24.

AB 2689 (Kalra) Support – This bill updates Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) confidentiality provisions to allow a broader range of market experts to participate in complex IOU cost recovery proceedings and supports California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) oversight to protect customers from unreasonable or unjustified IOU rate increases. California IOU electric generation rates have increased 49% since 2013. Between 2008 and 2018, IOU customer rates doubled from $29.3 billion to $59.3 billion per year. AB 2689 would result in greater IOU accountability and improved consumer protection, safety, and affordability. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill. STATUS: Referred to the Asm U&E committee on 4/24.

AB 2789 (Kamlager) WATCH – This bill would appropriate $1,500,000 and require the CPUC, in consultation with the CA Energy Commission, to request the California Council on Science and Technology to undertake and complete a study, as specified, relative to electrical grid outages and cost avoidance resulting from deployment of eligible renewable energy resources, battery storage systems, and demand response technologies. The bill would require the PUC to report the results of the study to the Legislature by January 1, 2022. STATUS: Awaiting a hearing in the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee.

AB 3014 (Muratsuchi) WATCH – This bill aims to improve the reliability of California electric supply by reforming the State’s resource adequacy (RA) program. Specifically, this bill creates the Central Reliability Authority (CRA), a non-profit public benefit corporation, to purchase residual RA needed to meet state requirements while still allowing load-serving entities (LSEs), such as Community Choice Agencies (CCAs), to maintain their procurement autonomy. The newly created CRA also reduces costly RA purchases currently undertaken by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and greatly enhances the RA market. The California Community Choice Association is a sponsor of this bill. STATUS: Referred to the Asm U&E committee on 4/24.

AB 3021 (Ting) SUPPORT – Read The Climate Center’s SUPPORT LETTER. This bill would appropriate $300,000,000 per fiscal year in the 2020–21, 2021–22, and 2022–23 fiscal years from the General Fund to the California Energy Commission to administer a program to provide resiliency grant funding and technical assistance to local educational agencies for the installation of energy storage systems. STATUS: Double-referred to Education and Natural Resources committees.

AB 3251 (Bauer-Kahan) WATCH – This bill has been withdrawn by the  author. It would require that charging of energy storage systems be treated as load in calculations for demand response programs, and that capacity from energy storage systems installed on the customer side of the meter be allowed to be aggregated for purposes of determining resource adequacy capacity; and electricity exported to the grid from the customer side of the meter be allowed to count toward the capacity obligations of load-serving entities. STATUS: WITHDRAWN by author.

Senate Bills

SB 45 (Allen, et al) SUPPORT – Dubbed the “Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2020.” This is a proposed $5.51 billion general obligation bond to be placed on the November 3, 2020 statewide general election. Specifically, $570 million will be made available for climate resiliency initiatives including microgrids, distributed generation, storage systems, in-home backup power, and community resiliency centers such as cooling centers, clean air centers, hydration stations, and emergency shelters. STATUS: Passed out of Senate, in the Assembly, held at the desk.

SB 378 (Wiener) WATCH – Would establish customer and local government protections related to Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) incidents. Specifically, the bill requires IOUs to provide annual reports to the Wildfire Safety Division within the CPUC on the condition of their electrical equipment and provide maintenance logs to assess fire safety risk. The bill also requires the CPUC to develop procedures for consumers and local governments to recover costs from IOUs accrued during PSPS events, improves PSPS notification procedures, and makes IOUs subject to civil fines if the CPUC determines that the IOU failed to act in a reasonable and prudent manner. STATUS: In the Assembly, pending committee referral.

SB 774 (Stern) WATCH – 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: In the Assembly committee process with no committee assignment and no hearing date.

SB 947 (Dodd) SUPPORT – This bill has been WITHDRAWN by the author. Read The Climate Center’s SUPPORT LETTER. This bill would have required the CPUC to evaluate financial performance-based incentives and performance-based metric tracking to identify mechanisms that may serve to better align electrical corporation operations, expenditures, and investments with public benefit goals. STATUS: WITHDRAWN by author.

SB 1215 (Stern) SUPPORT – SB 1215, the “California Emergency Services Act” establishes the Office of Emergency Services in the office of the Governor and provides that the office is responsible for the state’s emergency and disaster response services for natural, technological, or manmade disasters and emergencies. Creates a grant program for microgrids. STATUS: In Senate, double-referred to the Governmental Organization and Energy Committees.


SB 1240 (Skinner) – This bill has been withdrawn by the author due to the health crisis. The author is committed to re-introducing the bill in the 2021 session. It would require the California Energy Commission to identify and evaluate options for transforming the electrical corporations’ (Investor Owned Utilities’) distribution grids into more open access platforms that would allow local governments and other third parties like CCAs to participate more easily in grid activities. The Climate Center was a sponsor of this bill.


SB 1258 (Stern) WATCH – Titled the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act, this bill would enact the California Climate Technology and Infrastructure Financing Act to require the California Infrastructure Bank (IBank), in consultation with specified agencies to administer the Climate Catalyst Revolving Fund, which the bill would establish to provide financial assistance to eligible climate catalyst projects. STATUS: In the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.


SB 1314 (Dodd) – This bill has been withdrawn by the author due to the health crisis. The author is committed to re-introducing the bill in the 2021 session. This bill would have required the Strategic Growth Council to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. The Climate Center was a sponsor of this bill.

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