Published By Daily Democratdailydemocratcom Created: 09/02/2012 12:30:53 AM PDT
Legislation to provide millions of consumers in California access to clean, renewable energy died in the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce Friday as a result of lobbying from energy companies.
PG&E and Southern California Edison lobbied against the bill but there was broad support for the bill, including that of major investor-owned utility, San Diego Gas & Electric, according to a news release from Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis.
"Unfortunately, PG&E and Southern California Edison control the committee," said Wolk, the author of Senate Bill 843. "There was an agreement between the Assembly Speaker, the Committee Chair, and me that would have scaled the bill down to a pilot program under the Public Utilities Commission's guidance and oversight. That agreement wasn't honored and the bill died in committee, depriving the public of innovative energy policy in line with Governor Brown's initiatives."
SB 843 would have transformed California's energy market by allowing all customers in the state's three major utilities to utilize solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, according to Wolk. The bill would have given Californians the option of buying a portion of the power generated at an off-site renewable energy facility--and to receive a credit on their utility bill for the clean energy they purchase.
"Three out of four Californians are currently unable to take advantage of affordable and clean, renewable energy through the state's
renewable power programs," Wolk said. "SB 843 would have changed that, giving consumers the opportunity to save on their energy bill while encouraging more investment and creating thousands of jobs in an important sector of our state's economy, all without spending any state funds or shifting costs to consumers who chose not to participate."
The bill was sponsored by the City of Davis and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, and supported by a broad coalition that included business, school and environmental groups, affordable housing advocates, as well as the Department of Defense and many local governments.
"There was a tremendous effort on the part of the bill's sponsors and supporters, particularly the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Department of Defense, U.S. Navy, Vote Solar, Clean Path Ventures, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Recurrent Energy and Renewable Funding," Wolk said.
"I want to extend my personal thanks to all those who gave their time and effort in a last stitch effort to get this measure to the governor.
"Unfortunately, the coalition of support behind this measure was simply no match for the high paid lobbyists and the campaign contributions of these monopoly corporations."
Consumers are currently unable to generate their own on-site power from solar, wind, and other renewable energy for a variety of reasons, Wolk said. Many business owners, particularly small business owners, don't own their building and are unable to install renewable energy generation systems on site.
The same problem faces the state's millions of renters. Shaded roofs, or roofs that don't get sufficient direct sunlight, also prevent consumers from generating their own renewable energy.