California’s 2014 legislative session has finally come to a close. August was a busy month in Sacramento as the Legislature worked to get bills through both houses in the final stretch, after which Gov. Brown signed them into law during the month of September. In addition to approving several bills and budget items that will improve the business climate for advanced energy companies, the Legislature also faced an attempt to push off a key milestone in the state’s climate plan.
As we reported previously, a host of items important to the advanced energy industry, and supported by AEE, made it into the budget this year. These included additional finance dollars for the Prop 39 public building retrofit program, extension of the Self-Generation Incentive Program, extension of the Solar Property Tax exemption, and investment of cap and trade revenue. While these critical items were settled in the budget, several important bills were pending right to the end of the legislative session.
One such success is Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi’s AB 2565, which expands the build-out of charging infrastructure at businesses and multi-family housing units by giving lessees the opportunity to pay for the cost of installation and upkeep of the charging station. This AEE-supported bill provides a practical solution for landlords and businesses and addresses the growing need for EV charging stations around the state. The advanced energy industry also claimed victory with the passage and signing of another bill from the same sponsor, AB 2188, which streamlines the process for obtaining permits to install residential solar energy systems.
One piece of legislative drama threatened to delay the next step in the state’s climate plan. In 2015, transportation fuels are due to come under the cap and trade system for carbon reduction. With the petroleum industry expressing their opposition to this action and concern over the potential for a spike in fuel prices, Assemblymember Henry Perea introduced AB 69. The bill would have delayed the move until 2018, leaving transportation fuels out of the cap and trade program for the time being. A strong coalition of business groups, including AEE, opposed the bill. Utilities – which are already subject to cap and trade, and object to being the only ones – and regulators also expressed their concerns over the legislation and urged lawmakers to think about the uncertainty such a delay would create around the state’s implementation plans. The topic dominated discussion at our legislative panel at AEE’s Pathway to 2050 event (see video here). In the end, however, the bill failed to get a committee hearing in the Senate.
The advanced energy industry also received newfound support outside of the Legislative arena. Late last month, the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBANK) announced the creation of a Clean Energy Finance Center (CEFC). AEE will work with the IBANK to maximize the opportunity created by the new finance center for the advanced energy industry to work with local government and the IBANK.
With our legislative work done for this year, we are looking ahead to 2015. AEE’s California team anticipates that energy will be a focal point for many lawmakers and the Administration as the state further clarifies the roadmap to meeting our 2030 and 2050 goals. In addition to active engagement on legislative issues, AEE will continue to weigh in on regulatory matters tied to AB 32 and Prop 39. We will also look to lead transformative discussions around building a 21st Century Electricity system in California with our members and stakeholders around the state.