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RTO Insider: 2 New California Bills Could Accelerate Decarbonization

Posted by Ayla Burnett on Jul 7, 2024

RTO Insider reports on two California bills that could accelerate the state's decarbonization goals. United's Edson Perez states both bills are important steps that will pave the way for disadvantaged communities to access clean homes and indoor air as well as support grid reliability and affordability. 

The California Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee on July 2 advanced two new bills that could accelerate the state’s decarbonization goals by helping residents and multimeter customers transition to renewable energy.  

Senate Bill 1221, introduced by Sen. Dave Min (D), would advance efforts to retire gas-fired power plants, requiring gas companies to submit a map of all potential distribution line replacement projects by July 2025.  

The bill also directs the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to designate priority neighborhood “decarbonization zones” that consider the concentration of gas distribution line replacement projects outlined in the maps by January 2026. The commission would then be required to establish a voluntary program to implement pilot projects within each zone to facilitate cost-effective decarbonization with an emphasis on equity.  

“The pilot projects enabled by SB 1221 will engage neighborhoods, support residences with zero-emissions appliances and create quality jobs, paving the way for disadvantaged communities to access clean homes and indoor air,” Edson Perez, policy lead at Advanced Energy United, said in a press release. “SB 1221 presents an opportunity to meaningfully and thoughtfully advance the state toward its climate goals and help residents transition away from a system destined for cost increases.”  

The legislation adds to the portfolio of other efforts led by the California Energy Commission and the CPUC to retire gas generation, including the CEC’s targeted electrification and strategic gas decommissioning, which involves transitioning whole neighborhoods to electric power instead of using a mix of services. (See Targeted Electrification ‘Promising but No Silver Bullet’ for Gas Cost Dilemma.) 

Additionally, SB 350, signed into law in 2020, requires the CPUC to focus utility energy procurement decisions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. In January 2020, the commission opened the Long-Term Gas Planning Rulemaking procedure, which helps chart a course through the energy transition with an emphasis on gas infrastructure retirement.  

A second bill moving through the Legislature, SB 1374, focuses on rooftop solar and could reverse the CPUC’s controversial decision to block schools, farms and apartment buildings from using the solar power they generate to offset their utility bills. The legislation, written by Sen. Josh Becker (D), would amend the CPUC’s law, allowing schools and apartments in California to fully use the solar energy generated on their property.  

The first iteration of the bill included churches and farms, but following the committee’s recommendation, it was narrowed down to just schools and apartments. The amended legislation would require the CPUC to ensure that any contract or tariff related to customer-generators with a renewable electrical generation facility meets certain requirements, including allowing customers to elect to aggregate load.  

“Enabling more distributed energy resources like solar and storage will help grid reliability and affordability by keeping power close to consumers and making investments in transmission and distribution as efficient as possible,” Perez said in the press release. “By enabling schools and other multimeter customers to take full advantage of their solar and storage investments and save money on energy costs, SB 1374 saves everyone money. We must think about affordability at a systemwide level and with a long-term vision to ensure an energy transition that works for everyone.”  

Read the full article here.

Topics: State Policy, United In The News, California, Edson Perez