California charges ahead, leaves AB 69 behind
I’m back from vacation just as the California legislative session ends and legislators go off on their much-needed breaks! Here are some of the highlights from this very active past couple weeks:
AB 69 Postmortem:
Supporters of California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under AB32 got some welcome news last weekend when California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg put an end to Asm. Henry Perea’s AB 69, writing in a letter to Mr. Perea that his bill to delay a key component of the state’s cap and trade program would not be heard before the end of session.
The letter itself is definitely worth a read, but so is yesterday’s blog post from my colleagues James Barba and Peter Ferguson, who break down the highlights here.
Another successful cap and trade auction:
In another positive development, California’s 8th quarterly auction of greenhouse gas allowances sold out of permits, raising more than $331 million and signaling healthy demand for permits all the way into 2017. According to the Sac Bee’s Dale Kasler, about two-thirds of the 2017 permits available were sold at a price of $11.34 per ton. Our Canadian friends will join us for the next auction, since we’re set to join markets with Quebec in the first quarter of 2015. Bienvenue!
School bond goes down; Prop 39 still moving along:
Hopes for a school bond on the November ballot were dashed last week as Governor Brown signaled he would not sign the bill if it ever reached his desk – this despite the virtually unanimous support the bond bill enjoyed as it made its way through the Assembly. Funds from the last bond measure, Prop 1A (2006), have run dry, leaving empty coffers for badly needed school facility construction, maintenance, and modernization. As California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister recently pointed out, “Nationally, K-12 schools spend more money on energy than computers and textbooks combined.”
Without a new bond to pay for these projects, it’s likely that attention will turn back to other school facility funding that’s still on the table, most notably funds allocated through Proposition 39. After a slow start, Prop 39 projects are gaining momentum: To date, the California Energy Commission has approved 81 expenditure plans for projects at 244 school sites, totaling roughly $66 million (a list of all of the approved projects is available on the CEC’s Prop 39 page). Other schools are getting ready to send in proposals, in many cases armed with energy audits performed by the California Conservation Corps. Their results are now available online as well. With luck, all these new data about the current state of California’s school facilities will inspire private sector energy efficiency providers to reach out and help schools find ways to save critical energy dollars – and will also underscore to legislators and the Governor the sheer scale of building maintenance and construction needs across the state that won’t be covered by limited Prop 39 dollars.
Charge Ahead California:
Earlier this week the California Assembly passed SB 1275 (de Leon) by a vote of 46-23. The bill, now headed back to a friendly Senate for re-passage before moving on to the Governor’s desk, would ensure that California’s roads are home to a million or more zero- or near-zero emissions vehicles by the year 2023. Even better, it targets this effort toward the low-income Californians who need low- and no-fuel vehicles most by setting an income cap on the state’s EV rebate program, authorizing car-sharing and auto finance assistance programs, and allowing participants in the state’s vehicle retirement and replacement program to access extra incentives for switching to electric or hybrid vehicles. We’ve shown in the past just how economical EVs can be when made affordable to low-income households, and we’re glad to see this bill close to becoming law.
There’s plenty more going on this week, but it’s high time I wrapped this up and got ready for Labor Day weekend. Speaking of which, if you need a break between BBQs, take a moment to read E2’s excellent new report on clean energy job creation in the second quarter of 2014, which shows 2500 new clean energy and transport jobs in California alone. Only Arizona beat us out for top marks on new job creation, thanks to its massive new solar project in San Luis, AZ. I’d put money on the Golden State taking that crown back from the Grand Canyon State by the end of the year. Any takers?
That’s all folks. Enjoy the long weekend, stay cool, and – as always – pray for rain. Til next week!