The Morning Report
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California’s experienced a solar surge in the last decade and lawmakers don’t want to see it slow.
They’ve introduced a handful of bills to encourage customers and utilities to continue investing in more renewable power sources.
Here’s a rundown of most of the solar legislation making its way through the statehouse:
SB 350: Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s bill would set new goals to reduce petroleum use by 50 percent, double electrical efficiency in buildings and up utilities’ energy mixes to 50 percent renewable sources by 2030.
His bill follows Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for utilities to use 55 percent renewable energy by 2030. The current mandate pushes utilities to reach 33 percent by 2020.
SoCal Edison has suggested it’d be easier to meet the 50 percent renewable target if rooftop solar is incorporated. There’s also been talk of other ways to broaden the standard to give utilities more flexibility.
Some environmental groups aren’t thrilled with that idea.
AB 645: Assemblymen Das Williams and Anthony Rendon have introduced a bill that focuses on the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the least controversial piece of de León’s bill. Like de León, they’re seeking a 50 percent renewable energy mix for utilities by 2030.
This bill seems like a tactical move in case de Leon’s bill fails.
SB 793: Two years ago, state Sen. Lois Wolk pushed through legislation to make solar buy-in possible for customers who aren’t in the position to get solar panels. Think apartment-dwellers or homeowners mulling a move.
San Diego Gas & Electric and other utilities have since gone to work putting together their programs. But some solar industry groups are mad about utility estimates of a 15 to 35 percent premium for customers who sign on and the fact that customers go month-to-month after their first year on the program.
Enter Wolk’s SB 793, which could give customers more predictability for up to 20 years.
Solar advocates and industry leaders are also keeping a close eye out for the Public Utility Commission’s upcoming decision on net energy metering, a billing arrangement that allows rooftop solar customers to see savings on their power bills. And they’re pushing Congress to extend a federal tax incentive set to expire in 2016.
Check out more from our quest to assess whether solar will pay off for San Diego here.
— Lisa Halverstadt
Budget, Take Two
Gov. Jerry Brown dropped his revised budget Thursday, aka the May Revise. The biggest talker: a new state tax credit meant to boost the poor. Dems have tried to make this happen for years — before this session, there have been at least seven failed bills to create an earned income tax credit since 2002. “The change would keep more money in the pockets of 825,000 families and reduce the state’s revenue by $380 million, according to administration estimates,” according to the L.A. Times.
The Associated Press has a good rundown of the major items.
The L.A. Times breaks down how the budget addresses the drought.
Two Women-in-the-Workplace Wins for Gonzalez
The state Assembly passed two of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bills this week, both aimed at boosting women’s workplace rights.
One, AB 305, would close a loophole that allows women’s worker’s comp claims to be denied on the basis of “pre-existing conditions” that mostly affect women.
Another, AB 202, would grant workplace protections to NFL cheerleaders, who currently make virtually no money and have few safeguards to rely on when it comes to how they’re treated by employers.
Both bills now head to the state Senate. (U-T)
• Gonzalez’s bill to rein in Civic San Diego and similar agencies also passed the Assembly this week. We’d been waiting to see where Speaker Toni Atkins would land on this one: She voted with Gonzalez for the measure. (City News Service)
SoCal Split on Atkins’ Affordable Housing Plan
Speaker Toni Atkins’ big plan to boost affordable housing got a boost this week from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which voted to support the bill. Atkins’ bill “would charge a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents, excluding home sales, to create a funding source for affordable housing,” notes the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
The Board of Supervisors in Orange County, however, held its own vote and landed on the other side: They voted 4-1 to oppose the plan. (Voice of OC)
Golden State News
Things got tense during a budget hearing this week where lawmakers turned the heat on UC administrators. Lawmakers were mad that the UC system spent $32 million last year on financial aid for out-of-state students – a group that’s supposed to bring money in, not take it out. (Sacramento Bee)
The Assembly passed AB 691 this week, a bill that provides a framework for what happens to someone’s social media account when they die. “Under the bill, a decedent would be allowed to grant their loved one’s access to their accounts through a written will or an online setting through the product or service,” reports KCET.
Gov. Jerry Brown, state legislators and statewide officials will get a 3 percent raise – but still won’t make as much as they did before the recession. (San Jose Mercury News)
Warm Fuzzy of the Week
Thursday was a big day in the Capitol, thanks to May Revisepalooza. It was also the day Speaker Toni Atkins celebrated her one-year anniversary as Capitol Boss Lady. Apparently the tradition is for other members to pool some money and buy a nice gift for a speaker’s one-year milestone. But Atkins instead asked a small group of members, including San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, to serve lunch with her to a long line of homeless folks, Atkins staffer Dave Rolland tells me.