In December 2005, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a decision that created the California Solar Initiative as a $3.2 billion solar program with the goal of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar power by 2017. This was similar to an earlier version of SB 1 (Murray) creating the Million Solar Roofs Initiative which was stalled because of labor language problems. SB 1 was amended in 2006 and enacted to make the statutory changes necessary to expand the scope of a California Solar Initiative, a solar program implemented by the PUC, applies to all electricity utilities, imposing specific requirements on PUC in implementing the initiative, and requiring developers to provide the option of solar panels on new homes.
Other significant energy legislation enacted this year included SB 107 (Simitian) accelerating the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Requirement from 2017 to 2010 (The RPS is a program requiring investor-owned utilities, to among other things, achieve a 20 percent renewable electricity portfolio); SB 1059 (Escutia) allowing the Energy Commission to designate electric transmission corridor zones; SB 1250 (Perata) allowing the continual expenditure of monies collected pursuant to current law for the Public Interest Energy Research program and the Renewable Research Development and Demonstration program; SB 1368 (Perata) requiring the Energy Commission to set emission standards for utilities providing electricity in this state; SB 1505 (Lowenthal) requiring the Air Resources Board to adopt regulations that ensure the production and use of hydrogen for transportation purposes; AB 1632 (Blakeslee) requiring the Energy Commission to compile and assess scientific studies to determine the potential vulnerability of the state’s largest generating plants due to aging or a major seismic event; AB 1925 (Blakeslee) requiring the Energy Commission to study and make recommendations for capturing and storing industrial carbon dioxide; AB 1969 (Yee) requiring an electrical corporation to purchase electricity from renewable electricity generating facilities that are owned and operated by public wastewater agencies; AB 2021 (Levine) requiring all electric and natural gas utilities to meet energy efficiency savings targets established by the Energy Commission and the PUC; AB 2104 (Lieber) requiring the PUC to improve the California Alternate Rates for Energy program application process for tenants who receive electric or gas service from a master-meter customer through a sub-metered system by December 21, 2007; AB 2160 (Lieu) requiring the state to identify and develop appropriate financing and project delivery mechanisms to facilitate state and private sector commercial building projects that are energy and resource efficient; AB 2189 (Blakeslee) permitting incremental energy gained from improved efficiency at existing small hydroelectric facilities to be eligible for the Renewable Portfolio Standard, even if the efficiency gains increase the facility’s capacity to greater than 30 megawatts; and AB 2778 (Lieber) extending the sunset of Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) for distributed generation resources from January 1, 2008 to January 1, 2010, and removing solar energy technologies form SGIP pursuant to the California Solar Initiative.
Vetoed significant energy legislation of note included SB 204 (Bowen) creating new conflict of interest standards for members of the California Energy Commission; SB 757 (Kehoe) providing for the Oil Conservation, Efficiency, and Alternative Fuels Act; AB 993 (Canciamilla) requiring the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to encourage one or more Economic and Workforce Development program regional centers to develop a course of energy for facilities managers; and AB 1388 (Ridley-Thomas) permitting the PUC to establish two specific grant programs and to provide advanced telecommunications network services to community technology programs and public libraries that deliver education services to people and health care facilities.
The major utility bill enacted this year was AB 2987 (Nunez), the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006, increasing competition in the cable television market which is to lead to decreased costs for the people of California. It allows telecommunications companies to receive a single permit to deliver Internet and television services to homes and businesses instead of having to apply for individual permits with cities and counties.
Other significant utility legislation enacted included SB 202 (Simitian) prohibiting the purchase or sale of any telephone calling pattern record or list without the written consent of the subscriber making the calls; SB 423 (Simitian) permitting an electric service provider to donate free electric commodity source to a nonprofit charitable organization; SB 909 (Escutia) permitting the PUC to expand up to $2 million for the nonrecurring installation costs for high-speed broadband services for specified community-based organizations; SB 1627 (Kehoe) eliminating obstacles to the development of technology that is needed to support Californians growing reliance on wireless services; AB 326 (Blakeslee) ensuring that basic telephone rates for customers of small rural telecommunications companies are kept reasonable; AB 2393 (Levine) requesting the PUC to open several investigations to address the ability of telephone services to operate during an emergency; AB 2415 (Nunez) requiring devices that include an integrated and enabled wireless access point that are manufactured on or after October 1, 2007, to include a warning that advises consumers about how to protect their personal information and mitigate unauthorized use of their internet access, and provide other specified protection measures; AB 2515 (Ruskin) requiring the PUC to prepare a report describing the progress of regulatory mechanisms which encourage water conservation consistent with the Water Action Plan; AB 2723 (Pavley) requiring the PUC to ensure that not less than 10 percent of the funds from the California Solar Initiative be used for the installation of solar energy systems on low-income residential housing, and permitting the PUC to incorporate a revolving loan or loan guarantee program for this purpose.
Vetoed legislation of note included SB 204 (Bowen) establishing new conflict of interest standards of the PUC; SB 440 (Speier) providing additional protections and information to mobile and wireless telephone customers regarding billing discrepancies; SB 1753 (Dunn) requiring the PUC to report on the impact the report of the Public Utility Holding Company Act would have on California consumers; and AB 974 (Nunez) enacting the Electrical Transmission Infrastructure Investment Act of 2006.
NOTE: Proposition 87 on the 2006 General Election ballot establishes a $4 billion program to reduce petroleum consumption through incentives for alternative energy education and training to be funded by a tax on California oil producers.