By Bruce Naegel September 2017
SB-100 (1) is the next step in California environmental law. It puts California on a path to achieving Zero Carbon electricity by 2045. This is ambitious. but, California has met ambitious goals in the past.
Two years ago, California passed SB-350 (2). SB-350 targets 50% renewable energy by 2030. SB-100 goes further and targets 60% renewables by 2030.
SB-100 also sets goals of 44% renewable by 2024 and 52% by 2027. These interim goals are key to keeping the program on track.
California Defines Renewable Energy Sources
To get to 100% carbon free by 2045 from 60% renewables in 2030 is a challenge. Key to making the goal are the zero carbon electricity sources not defined as renewable in California.
California defines renewable energy sources as sources that emit net zero carbon. Large hydro (over 30 Megawatts) and nuclear are zero carbon.
California chose NOT to call nuclear and large hydro as renewable to encourage the development of other renewable sources. However, large hydro and nuclear can still help California achieve its zero-carbon electricity goal in 2045.
Moving a bill through the California Legislature.
Proposed legislation (bills) can start in the Assembly (Assembly Bill or AB). They can also start in the Senate (Senate Bill or SB).
A bill moves through the chamber where it started until mid-term. If the bill passed the first chamber, it moves to the remaining chamber.
SB-100 first moved through the Senate and then was passed to the Assembly. Now we are close to the end of the legislative session.
Last Minute Amendments
Legislatures modify bills with amendments. Often these amendments come in at the last minute. It is key to watch for these towards the end of any session.
The legislature added amendments to SB-100, AB-726 (3), and AB-813 (4).The writers of these amendments designed them to limit success of Community Choice Energy programs.
Keeping Bills On-Track Rallies and Letters
Part of keeping bills on track is public support. The public showed support for SB-100 at San Jose City Hall on September 8. (See Pictures). The event was put on by 350.org. Ash Kalra, who represents San Jose in the California Assembly keynoted the event.
Rallies help mobilize support. Support (letters and phone calls) to the right representatives help move a bill forward or stop a bad bill.
Vigilance over the Weekend, Watch and Respond.
It is the end of the legislative session. This is the time to be vigilant.
Last weekend, we were informed about changes to SB-100, AB-726, and AB-813. What was proposed would not serve Community Choice Energy well. Ann Hancock (Center for Climate Protection) among others sent out notification to send letters and phone calls to members of the California legislature.
Others joined the chorus as well. The involvement of board members of the CCEs along with the public provided the right level of contact and urgency.
An SB-100 Story with a Happy Ending:
Diane Bailey, Executive Director of Menlo Spark, sent good news that negotiations within the legislature have put AB-726 and AB-813 on hold. The process removed Amendments to SB-100 unfriendly to Community Choice Energy.
Joe Wiedman, legislative analyst for (PCE) Peninsula Clean Energy, watched the situation closely. He thanked the PCE board for their outreach to senators and assembly members. So, vigilance and providing a loud public voice to issues upcoming can help make things work.
Epilogue, the Story Continues
SB-100, AB-726 and AB-819 were all put on hold and withdrawn from consideration in this session. This happened after the article was written and published. We will have a chance in the next session to pass these bills in a state where they will help move to a carbon neutral future.
Meanwhile, we have SB-350. Serious discussion is going on about how to implement and enforce its requirements. This is needed work.
The movement to Community Choice Energy will drive parts of the state to support carbon free electricity well before 2045. And the effort goes on for a better tomorrow.