California Capitol 0423

The California Capitol in Sacramento.

Legislation is flowing through the State Capitol in Sacramento on offshore wind, rooftop solar net metering, building decarbonization, microgrids and many other energy topics.

Environmental groups are cheering a bill that could lead to thousands of megawatts of offshore wind development off the California coast. AB 525, by Assm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco) and others, would require the California Energy Commission to develop a strategic plan for achieving 3,000 MW of wind development off the California coast by 2030, and at least 10,000 MW by 2040.

The bill passed the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee on April 21 in a 14-1 vote. It would require the CEC to coordinate with the California Coastal Commission, the Ocean Protection Council, the State Lands Commission, the Office of Planning and Research, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, the California Public Utilities Commission, and other agencies and organizations to develop the strategic plan, which would have to be submitted by June 1, 2022.

The plan must include identification of sea space, economic and workforce development, transmission planning and permitting. The legislation is supported by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Environment California.

Environmental groups in an April 21 letter to Chiu said the bill "sets the stage for California to usher in a new renewable energy industry that has the potential to help mitigate climate change and provide thousands of clean energy jobs, while protecting fragile marine and coastal ecosystems. In directing California state agencies to create a strategic plan that includes least conflict landscape-level planning and stakeholder perspectives, we believe that AB 525 will catalyze prompt deployment of offshore wind energy in California's offshore waters and enable the state to capture the benefits of a new clean energy industry." Signatories on the letter are the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, Audubon California and The Nature Conservancy.

On April 21, the Assembly committee also passed AB 1139, from Assm. Lorena Gonzalez (D-Oceanside), which repeals the previous authorization for net-energy metering tariffs and requires the CPUC to establish a net-energy metering tariff, known as NEM 3.0, and other new programs. The bill establishes NEM 3.0 effective July 1, 2022, to credit excess generation at the wholesale rate; charge customers for electricity imported from the grid at the full retail rate; require a grid access charge for all electricity consumed, including all transmission and distribution charges; and phases customers on NEM 1.0 and NEM 2.0 tariffs to NEM 3.0 beginning July 1, 2022, with final transition by July 1, 2024.

The bill permits nonresidential customers who pay demand charges to retain NEM 1.0 and NEM 2.0 tariffs in effect on Dec 31, 2021. It also allocates up to $300 million annually to discount the initial purchase of renewable generation by customers enrolled in the California Alternate Rates for Energy program, in multifamily housing, or in underserved communities, the construction of which would be subject to prevailing wage. It also allocates up to $300 million annually to eliminate any rate premium and provide an additional 10-percent discount for CARE customers participating in the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, and allocates up to $500 million annually to discount the initial purchase of renewable generation for public buildings, the construction of which would be subject to prevailing wage.

The bill requires the interconnection of customer self-generation in less than 30 working days; prohibits the use of distributed energy resources to defer investment in the distribution system; and increases the average effective discount of the CARE program to 40 to 45 percent of the bill usage of non-CARE customers.

The legislation comes as the CPUC is reviewing proposals to succeed the current NEM rules. The "Net Energy Metering Revisit" rulemaking [R20-08-020] is based on a decision instituted in September [D16-01-044]. The revisit is also supposed to address other issues related to net-energy metering, according to the CPUC (see CEM No. 1633).

Passing out of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee on April 19 was SB 31 by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), which requires the CEC to identify and implement programs to promote existing and new building decarbonization and authorizes the agency to spend energy or energy-efficiency funds made available by the federal government for existing and new building decarbonization projects. It also requires the CEC, under the Electric Program Investment Charge program, to award funds for projects that will benefit electricity ratepayers and lead to the development and deployment of commercial and residential building decarbonization technologies and investments that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gases.

SB 68, by Sen. Josh Becker (D-San Mateo), proposes several changes to support customers' and building owners' transition to electric vehicles and electric equipment for space and water heating, cooking, and other applications where electrical upgrades of the building or electric distribution system are needed. The bill specifies time frames within which electric investor-owned utilities must respond to applications from building owners for service upgrades and interconnections to the electrical system.

SB 99, from Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa), passed the Senate committee on April 19. The bill would establish a grant program, upon appropriation by the Legislature, at the CEC to fund resilience planning by local governments, including tribes, cities, counties, and cities and counties. The bill authorizes community choice aggregators and regional energy networks to apply for the grant funding on behalf of local governments, if the local governments request that the entity do so. It includes a public process to develop the solicitation and evaluation procedures but does not prescribe specific projects, and "does seek to foster collaboration between local governments, community stakeholders, and public utilities to develop resiliency plans and bolster efforts to support deployment of distributed energy resources aligned with the state's climate policies."

Passing out of the Assembly committee on April 19 was SB 533, which would require electrical corporations to ensure their systems are safe and resilient by installing one or more microgrids and hardening or undergrounding transmission wires and poles within 12 months of reaching a certain number of de-energization events.

Passing the Assembly committee April 12 was AB 427 by Sen. Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles), which would "address an adequate supply of firm zero-carbon resources to support the grid," according to a bill summary. It would require the CEC in consultation with the CPUC and the California Independent System Operator to submit to the Legislature an assessment of emerging firm clean resources, such as hydroelectric, geothermal and offshore wind. It would also require the CPUC to ensure that LSEs have sufficient resources to maintain reliability during "multi-day extreme or atypical weather events."

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