By Marcus Friedman
AB 1941 (Gallagher), as amended February 18, 2020, would amend various sections of the Public Utilities Code, to temporarily suspend public utilities’ obligations to meet the requirements of the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program (the Program) until infrastructure and vegetation management conditions are improved. The bill would also prohibit utilities from increasing the salaries of, or providing bonuses to, their executive officers during the suspension.
Under the Program, by December 31, 2045, eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources must supply 100% of retail sales of electricity to California end-use customers and 100% of electricity procured for all state agencies.
Of note, the bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to determine the amount the utilities would be saving by not having to comply with the renewable energy standards and require them to expend that amount to improve its transmission and distribution infrastructure to minimize the risk of wildfire ignition. According to a press release issued by author Assemblymember James Gallagher, and principal co-author, Senator Jim Nielsen, both of whom represent the town of Paradise and the Camp Fire victims, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) “is currently spending roughly $2.4 billion annually to uphold a legislative mandate to buy renewable power. At the same time, the company spent only $1.5 billion to update its century-old infrastructure in 2017.” The authors believe that “policies coming out of the State Capitol that distracts from these primary objectives [of providing safe and reliable power] only make matters worse.”
The bill is currently pending before the Assembly Utilities and Energy committee. To provide your input on this bill, register on the legislature’s webpage and submit your comments to the author.