PUBLISHED: TUESDAY 5, 2017
By Debra Kahn
California lawmakers are poised to enact a slew of clean energy and climate laws in the next two weeks that are partly motivated by fear of federal rollbacks.
State lawmakers are positioning themselves as the counterpoint to the Trump administration with a package of bills to enshrine Obama-era environmental laws in state code and preserve federal data on climate change and other environmental issues, as well as a bill to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
Supporters of those measures are pushing for their passage by Sept. 15, the last day of California’s legislative session.
Another part of the discussion that could still be fleshed out this year, observers say, is the broadening of California’s electricity grid to encompass other Western states, a concept known as grid regionalization. Environmental groups, power generators, labor unions and utilities have varying views on the benefits of regionalization. Some argue that increasing electricity trading with neighboring states is essential to balancing California’s increasing glut of midday solar power, but others say it would allow power plant construction jobs to leave the state and could give other states — and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — more power over decisions affecting California utilities.
A regionalization bill might start the process of changing the governance of the state’s grid operator, the California Independent System Operator, and set out the conditions under which California would join a wider ISO, predicted Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of the Independent Energy Producers Association, a trade group that represents independent renewable and fossil-fueled generators in California.
“We’ve had crazier years, and we’ve had slower years,” he said. “I wouldn’t put this on either end of those extremes, but there’s still a lot of potential energy-related legislation that can be taken up between now and Sept. 15.”