Spring Recess Legislation Update: April 2021

Written by: Lucia Rose (J.D. Candidate May 2022), Hayley Zech (J.D. Candidate May 2022), and Joe Kaatz (EPIC Staff Attorney)

The following describes identified trends and bills of interest on a range of energy, climate, and equity issues from this legislative session.  EPIC is in the process of developing a full list of bills to be published on its website by the end of this week.  This blog will be updated as soon as that link is live.

Wildfires:

In response to increased wildfires throughout the state (2, 257,863 acres burned in 2020 alone), bills related to wildlife research & prevention, electric utilities, and land use & development were introduced this session. In examining trends this session, both research and subsequent prevention measures as well as oversight on utilities appear to be at the forefront of legislators’ objectives.

AB 1154 and AB 267 focus on CEQA exemptions for egress route projects and prescribed fire, thinning, or fuel reduction projects to improve fire safety and high-severity wildfire reduction. AB 522 extends operations of the Forest Fire Prevention Exemption indefinitely and removes requirements on certain acre requirements related to tree harvesting. SB 109 and AB 981 establish the Office of Wildlife Technology Research and Development and the California Fire Safe Council to study, test, and advise on emergency technology and tools to more effectively prevent and suppress wildfire as well as identify public and private programs that can lead to structure-hardening and community resiliency.

AB 529, SB 533, and SB 259 increase required communication or notification by publicly owned electric utilities or electrical cooperatives, require the highest levels of safety, reliability, and resiliency in electrical transmission and distribution systems, and strengthen the Public Utilities Commission oversight of electrical corporation’s efforts to reduce fire risk.

AB 909 and SB 63 require the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop fire risk assessment maps and make changes to fuel modification regulations beyond the property line. AB 642 and SB 6 focus on fire protection building standards and require the Department of Forest and Fire Protection to make recommendations on how to understand and model wildfire risk. SB 55 and SB 12 require review and revision of mitigation plans to include a comprehensive retrofit strategy to reduce the risk of property loss and damage during wildfire and prohibit the creation or approval of new development in very high fire hazard severity zones.

General:

AB 1154: Egress Route Projects and Fire Safety (Also CEQA)

SB 109:Wildfire Technology Development

AB 267: Prescribed Burns Exemption and Reporting (Also CEQA related)

AB 522: Forest Fire Prevention Exemption

AB 981: California Fire Safe Council

Electric Utilities:

AB 529: Electrical Utilities: Fire Safety, Prevention, Mitigation

SB 533: Electricity Company Fire Prevention Mitigation Planning Policies

SB 259: Strengthen Power of Government to Enforce Business Fire Mitigation Plan Annual Submission

Land Use Development Related:

General:

AB 909: Wildfire Risk Assessment Map

SB 63: Forest Management and Fire Hazard Zones

AB 642: Identification and Classification of Risk, Public Education Fire Training Center

Land Use Development Prohibition Related:

SB 55: Fire Hazard Zones/New Development Zones

SB 12:Hazard Mitigation in Housing Planning

SB 6:Density Planning

Emissions and Carbon Sequestration:

A number of bills related to emissions, end-uses, and carbon neutrality and sequestration were introduced this session with a major focus on equity and underrepresented communities.  These bills focus on natural gas bans in new public buildings, carbon neutrality of buildings, transportation electrification acceleration and implementation, carbon sequestration in natural and working lands, supply of renewable energy, and legacy electric portfolio cost issues related to departed load.  

There is another push for procuring 100% zero-carbon resources for all state agency load under AB 1161 as well as increasing the mandated load served by eligible clean energy resources to a 100% goal and specified ranges of load served by clean energy by 2035 based on whether the entity is an investor owned utility or a publicly owned electric utility per SB 67

How to address legacy electric portfolio procurement issues for community choice aggregation and direct access departed load was also added as an issue under an amendment to SB 612, which will impact existing portfolio indifference adjustment charge (PCIA) or exits fees in terms of options and costs allocations, if passed. Notably, AB 33 already moved through a gut and amendment process where the natural gas ban in new public buildings was removed and replaced with broad directives to the Energy Commission on energy storage and transportation electrification language. SB 30 still requires a natural gas ban for state buildings as well as a carbon-neutrality plan.

Natural Gas Ban:

SB 30:  Natural Gas Ban and Carbon-Neutrality Planning for State-Owned Buildings

Transportation:

AB 96: California Clean Truck, Bus, Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology Program

AB 745: Clean Cars 4 All Program

AB 992: California Clean Truck, Bus, and Off-Road Vehicle and Equipment Technology Program

AB 1069: Zero-Emission Passenger Vehicles: Underrepresented Communities

AB 1110: California Clean Fleet Accelerator Program

AB 1218: Equitable Access to Zero-Emissions Vehicles Fund

SB 643: Zero-Emissions Vehicle Policy

AB 33: Energy Storage and Transportation Electrification Investment

AB 1463: California Global Warming Solutions Act: Low Carbon Fuel Standard Regulations

GHG Emission Reductions and Carbon Sequestration:

SB 31: Decarbonization Funding for New and Existing Developments

SB 32:  City and County Decarbonization Planning

SB 68:  Building Decarbonization and Building Electrification Costs

AB 1395: Greenhouse Gases: Carbon Neutrality

AB 284: California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: Climate Goal for Natural and Working Lands

AB 680: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: California Just Transition Act

AB 1289: Smart Climate Agriculture Program: Plant-Based Agriculture

AB 1508: Whole Orchard Recycling: Carbon Offset Credits and Healthy Soils

SB 27: Carbon Sequestration Planning

SB 260: Publicly Traded and Foreign Company Carbon Emission Disclosures

Electric Supply and End Uses

End Use:

AB 426: Toxic Air Contaminants Regulations

SB 18: CARB Green Hydrogen Strategic Planning

Supply and other Related Impacts:

AB 1161: Eligible Renewable Energy and Zero-Carbon Resources Procurement for All State Agencies

SB 67: California 24/7 Clean Energy Standard Program

AB 1139: CARE/NEM 3.0

SB 617: City and County Online Solar Permitting Platform Implementation

SB 207: Recovery and Recycling of PV Panels

Off-Shore Wind:

AB 525: Offshore Wind Generation

SB 413: Offshore Wind Site Certification

Procurement Legacy Costs related to Departed Load:

SB 612: Electrical Corporations and Other Load-serving Entities: Allocation of Legacy Resources

Resiliency/Adaptation:

Resiliency and adaptation related bills focusing on sea level rise and regional/local action were introduced this session. Traditional planning and harm-reductions measures related to sea level rise appear popular, emphasizing the progressive need to focus on harm resiliency rather than mitigation efforts related to coast lines and sea level rise. Environmental justice efforts are often highlighted in proposed regional and local initiatives, perhaps in response to increased activism efforts related to racial justice in the summer of 2020.

Bills introduced in response to sea level rise center on harm reduction, local development planning, and loan programs incentivizing local governments to preemptively decrease harm from sea level rise. AB 67 requires state agencies to integrate the current and future impacts of sea level rise in planning, designing, building, operating, maintaining, and investing in infrastructure in the coastal zone and prevents new or expanded infrastructure unless the project is not anticipated to be vulnerable to sea level rise or is resilient to mid-century sea level rise. In addition, AB 67 and AB 826 focus on establishing working groups to address resource and recreational goals of coast area, and recommend policies, resolutions, projects, and other actions to address sea level rise and its anticipated harm. SB 1 requires the California Coastal Commission to adopt, recommendations and guidelines for the identification, assessment, minimization, and mitigation of sea level rise within each local coastal program and creates the California Sea Level Rise State and Regional Support Collaborative to require state and regional information to the public and support local, regional, and other state agencies for identification, assessment,planning, and, where feasible, the mitigation of the adverse environmental, social, and economic effects of sea level rise. Finally, SB 83 Creates the Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Program to provide low-interest loans to local jurisdictions for the purchase of coastal properties in their jurisdictions identified as vulnerable costal property.

Regional and local action legislation introduced this session create regional climate change authorities and networks and focus on environmental justice initiatives in climate change planning efforts. AB 11 and AB 897 create regional climate change authorities and a regional climate network to develop a regional climate adaptation action plan and coordinate climate and mitigation activities across regions.

Many bills look to place environmental justice efforts front and center. AB 1384 requires the Strategic Growth Council to develop and coordinate a strategic resiliency framework and proactively engage vulnerable communities whose planning and project development has been disproportionately impacted by climate change effects.  AB 1087 increases the annual allocation from the Public Utilities Commission of revenues received by electrical corporations for clean and energy efficient programs from 15% to 85% and requires the corporations to award revenues as competitive grants for holistic community-driven building upgrade programs in critical communities. Similarly, SB 99 requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans. AB 880 focuses on funding predevelopment expenses to develop affordable housing in disaster areas that have experienced damage and loss of homes occupied or affecting lower income households. Further, AB 1453 implements the Just Transition Plan that recommends to transition the state’s economy to a climate-resilient and low-carbon economy that maximizes the benefits of climate actions while minimizing burdens to workers. Finally, AB 1500 would authorize the issuance of bonds to finance safe drinking water, wildlife prevention, drought preparation, flood preparation, extreme heat mitigation, and workforce development projects.

Sea Level Rise:

AB 67: Sea Level Rise Economic Analysis

AB 826: South Central California Coast Beach Erosion

SB 1:Coastal Zone Planning and Mitigation

SB 83: Sea Level Rise Revolving Loan Fund

Regional and Local Action:

AB 11: Regional Climate Change Coordination Groups

AB 880: Affordable Disaster Housing Revolving Development and Acquisition Program

AB 897: Regional Climate Networks and Climate Adaptation Action Plans

AB 1087: Environmental Justice Community Resilience Hubs Program

AB 1384: Resiliency Through Adaptation, Economic Vitality, and Equity Act of 2022

AB 1453: Just Transition Advisory Commission

AB 1500: Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022

SB 99: Community Energy Resiliency Planning

Reliability and Rolling Blackouts:

AB 427 and AB 585 provide new and responsive strategies to respond to current and future climate crises. In response to recent and more frequent wildfires and “deenergization” events, resource adequacy and reliability have become paramount. AB 427 pushes for a more dynamic and diverse electrical supply, energy storage, and resource response. This bill would invest in new generating capacity, in furtherance of demand response resources. AB 585 delegates to the Office of Planning and Research the power to award grants for local, regional, and state climate change planning, specifically addressing community resilience toward extreme heat. These grants would fund projects that reduce public health risk, such as updates to building design to increase shade and solar reflection, and updates to community evacuation and emergency response centers. Together, these bills aim to ensure resilience and responsiveness to future energy emergency events.

AB 427: Resource Adequacy Requirements

AB 585: Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program

Battery Storage/Air Quality Waivers & Incentives:

AB 843, AB 1139, and SB 244 represent different sides of the same coin, forming policy around Bioenergy usage and tariffs, policy for equitable energy rates (California Alternative Rates for Energy Program, or “CARE”) for net energy metering, and policy for guidance and protocol development of recycling batteries. Together, these bills work to provide more efficient, equitable, and safe energy for Californians.

AB 843: California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: Renewable Feed-In Tariff

AB 1139: California Alternative Rates for Energy Program: Net Energy Metering

SB 244: Battery Recycling Policies

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How has Vehicle-Miles-Traveled flattened Air Pollution in the San Diego Region After Covid-19 Shutdowns?

Co-authored with Bill Brick (San Diego Air Pollution Control District)

Over the past several weeks there has been a reduction in daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the San Diego region due to Shelter-in-Place orders issued by the Governor of California.  As discussed in a previous blog post, this decline in VMT has led to a reduction in greenhouse gases, the key gases in the changing climate. But there is also a relationship between VMT and daily and short-term air pollution.[1] We know that over two-thirds of smog-forming emissions in San Diego county are generated from mobile sources.[2] Air pollutants emitted from cars, diesel-powered trucks, buses, and other heavy‑duty equipment include oxides of nitrogen (NOx) as well as diesel particulate matter (PM).[3]  It is reasonable,  therefore, to expect that the reduction in VMT also would result in a reduction in such mobile source air pollutants.

The media has reported on how lock-downs have affected air pollution in many parts of the world and how clean and clear the air has become in metropolitan areas. People in the San Diego region have been asking the same question of how this reduction in VMT has affected our air quality. Due to this heightened interest in recent air monitoring data, the San Diego Air Pollution Control District (District) has provided a preliminary assessment of air quality measurements (even before the March 2020 data have been fully processed and validated). This post summarizes these preliminary findings.

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Shelter-in-Place, VMT and Flattening the GHG Curve in San Diego County

Many thanks to Yichao Gu, technical policy analyst, EPIC.

Vehicle-Miles-Traveled (VMT) is an important metric. VMT determines gas tax revenues, drives the need for and maintenance of roads, and contributes to air pollution (1) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In San Diego County, on-road transportation emissions are responsible for the largest fraction, more than 40%, of all greenhouse gas emissions and recently people have asked about the effect of the Shelter-in-Place orders on GHGs. GHG emissions are proportional to VMT as long as the percentage of miles driven by zero emission vehicles is low.

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Paying for Carbon Performance

P4P-2

Historically in California, programs to encourage energy-efficient or renewable energy technologies provide upfront financial incentives. While the dollar amounts of these incentives are typically developed in part based on the lifecycle costs and performance of the technology in question, very few have provided incentives based on the ongoing performance of the project. And none of them have based payments on the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced – carbon performance. This post describes recent developments in pay-for-performance programs and a program recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that pays for carbon performance.

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Water and energy, rain and drought….

At this time (2018-2019), the region has experienced extremely high rainfall, with reservoirs filled to the brim. But just last year, we were concerned about the lack of rain, how much water we can save, and in that context, how much energy and greenhouse gases are produced when moving water to us here in the San Diego region.

The water-energy relationship first appeared in a 2005 California Energy Commission (CEC) study which stated that the “water-related energy consumption is large — 19 percent (%) of all electricity used in California” (Table 1-1 p.8, CEC 2005). A more recent study (Spang, 2018, UC Davis) found that electricity savings from mandated statewide water conservation measures from July — September 2015 were almost identical to the first-year electricity savings in the period July 2015–June 2016 from energy efficiency investments by all of the state’s Investor-owned Utilities (IOUs) — a dramatic savings. Though this effect was unintended because the purpose of the mandate was to conserve water, it demonstrated the important role that water conservation can play in energy conservation in California.

However, the story about how much energy is used for water may be quite different at the city level compared with the state-level, not least because definitions of water-energy components vary from state to water district to city-level depending on whether it is about water planning or about climate action planning.  Previously we showed some general relationships on water-energy especially in the City of San Diego. This post continues and delves deeper into the relationships between water use and energy use at the state level contrasted with that at the city level (San Diego region), the “city” being a common unit used for climate action planning.

Energy Embedded in Water at the State versus City Level
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2019 Introduced Bill Update

StateCapitalCC

With the deadline for the Legislature to introduce bills passing last Friday, we are currently tracking approximately 210 energy, climate, and other related bills for this session.  This session marks a higher volume of introduced bills than previous sessions with a major emphasis on wildfire issues faced by the state as well as proposed changes to electricity procurement and climate actions.  The following includes bills that represent the range of issues addressed this session.  A complete list can be found on our website.

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CPUC Unanimously Approves Peterman’s Revised PCIA Alternative Decision

silver and gold coins

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Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved Commissioner Peterman’s revised Alternative Proposed Decision (APD) to conclude the cost allocation methodology portion of the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment Methodology (PCIA) proceeding. Phase II of the proceeding will address many important issues that still need resolution.

The PCIA determines the cost indifference calculation for how much community choice aggregator (CCA) customers, bundled investor owned utility (IOU) customers, and direct access (DA) customers will pay for generation resources previously procured on their behalf.  These costs are allocated to customers who departed or may depart IOU service territories to take service from a CCA or direct access provider (electric service providers (ESPs)).

Per the CPUC’s 10/11/18 press release: “Bill impacts will vary depending on customer class, service provider, energy usage, the energy markets, and a utility’s resources.  Evaluating CCA residential customers departing in 2018, there is an estimated 1.68 percent increase in bills of residential CCA customers over 2018 bills as a result of today’s decision in PG&E’s territory; in Edison’s territory, that figure is 2.50 percent; and in SDG&E’s territory, that number is 5.24 percent.  Any rate increases for one group of customers will be offset by rate decreases for other sets of customers.”

This post updates a previous post that explained the original proposed alternative decision.  This post focuses on explaining the differences between the original PD, APD, and the revised APD adopted today.

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2018 Chaptered Bill Update

On September 30th, Governor Brown signed or vetoed all enrolled bills passed by the legislature.  This completed the 2018 legislative session fulfilling one of Governor Brown’s last major duties before leaving office.  The 2017-2018 two year legislative session saw the introduction of approximately 482 energy, natural resource, land use, and climate related bills with the 2018 legislative session resulting in approximately 94 of these bills becoming law.  The following is a brief list of important bills that were chaptered or vetoed during the 2018 session. A full list of chaptered and vetoed bills can be found here.

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Governor Brown Signs SB 100 Making Carbon Free Energy Mandatory by 2045

alternative alternative energy blue eco

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At a press conference that included speeches from State Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and author State Senator Kevin De León, Governor Brown signed SB 100 into law today.  SB 100 amends the Renewable Portfolio Standard Program (RPS) targets for 2030 and makes the policy of California that electric utilities supply 100% of retail sales from renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources by 2045.

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Enrolled Bill Update September 2018

The deadline for the Legislature to pass pending legislation and send it to the Governor’s desk was August 31st. The Governor sign, veto, or allow enrolled bills to become law by September 30, 2018. The Legislature passed many bills that address California’s short, medium, and long term climate, energy, transportation, and wildfire priorities.  Below is a short highlight of enrolled bills: Continue reading

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