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Clean Power

Published on October 2nd, 2012 | by Andrew


Paving the Way to a Low-Carbon Society: California Governor Enacts 19 New Clean Energy Bills

October 2nd, 2012 by  

Much legislative action is needed to pave the way toward a low-carbon, green economy, and California Governor Jerry Brown took significant steps in doing so Sept. 27 by signing 19 clean energy bills into state law.

Streamlining the process of obtaining building or other permits to have rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed, California Senate Bill 1222 (SB 1222), authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF), standardizes and limits the fees city and county governments can charge. Local government agencies and school districts are eligible for reimbursement of certain costs incurred as a result of the state mandate.

More than 1 million more rooftop solar energy systems are expected to be installed in California in coming years. The cost of obtaining permits for them varies widely across state jurisdictions, and “high permitting fees increase the costs of installations and reduce the ability for solar to be deployed across all income spectrums,” the new law notes.


Lowering the Cost of Rooftop Solar; Public Clean Energy Partnership with DoD

“This bill would require permit fees for rooftop solar energy systems, as specified, by a city, county, city or county, or charter city to not exceed the estimated reasonable cost of providing the service for which the fee is charged, which cannot exceed $500 plus $15 per kilowatt for each kilowatt above 15kW for residential rooftop solar energy systems, and $1,000 plus $7 per kilowatt for each kilowatt between 51kW and 250kW, plus $5 for every kilowatt above 250kW, for commercial rooftop solar energy systems, unless certain conditions are met,” according to SB 1222.

Also worthy of particular note is the “Energy Security Coordination Act of 2012” (SB 1409), “which strengthens the partnership between California and the U.S. military.” Per the terms of the bill, which was authored by State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) will act as liaison and coordinator between the state government and US Department of Defense (DoD) on clean energy policy in order to enhance collaborations in achieving energy security and creating new jobs.

“The health of the environment, job creation and indeed, the security of the nation, depend on how we end America’s dangerous addiction to foreign oil,” Governor Brown stated in a press release. “California and the U.S. military are working together to build a clean energy future and this bill helps make sure it happens.”

The US military is the single largest energy consumer in the country, spending some $20 billion a year on energy. Recognizing the critical role renewables, clean energy, and energy efficiency can play in US national energy security, the US Armed Forces are on a renewable and clean energy drive under the Obama Administration’s leadership. Colorado’s Pike Research forecasts that the US Dept. of Defense will spend $1.8 billion on clean energy by 2025.

Here’s the rundown on the 17 other clean energy bills signed into state law Sept. 27, from Gov. Brown’s website:

  • AB 693 by Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) – Local government: Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority.
  • AB 1124 by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – Landlord and tenant.
  • AB 1255 by Assemblymember Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella) – Energy: renewable energy resources.
  • AB 1900 by Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) – Renewable energy resources: biomethane.
  • AB 2165 by Assemblymember Jerry Hill (D-South San Francisco) – Net energy metering: eligible fuel cell customer-generators.
  • AB 2187 by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) – Renewable energy resources.
  • AB 2196 by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-Eureka) – Renewable energy resources.
  • AB 2227 by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) – Local publicly owned electric utilities: State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission: reporting.
  • AB 2249 by Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-San Ramon) – Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007.
  • AB 2339 by Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) – Energy: geothermal technologies.
  • AB 2514 by Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) – Net energy metering.
  • SB 594 by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) – Energy: net energy metering.
  • SB 1066 by Senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) – Coastal resources: climate change.
  • SB 1122 by Senator Michael Rubio (D-Bakersfield) – Energy: renewable bioenergy projects. A signing message can be found here.
  • SB 1207 by Senator Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) – California Alternate Rates for Energy program.
  • SB 1268 by Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) – Energy: energy conservation assistance.
  • SB 1332 by Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) – Renewable energy resources: electric utilities.

Photo Credit: SF Gate

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

  • Kurt Newick

    Thanks for reporting on the Leno law that will restrict cities from charging more that a reasonable amount for residential or commercial solar electric permit fees! Here is our Sierra Club web site with lots of info on the solar permit fee issue for about 400 cities in California: http://www.SolarPermitFees.org

    – Kurt Newick

  • Mac McDougal

    Of the 17 clean energy bills noted, 16 were sponsored by Democrats, one by a Republican (Jean Fuller, R, Bakersfield). And the Republican’s paint themselves as pro-business . . .

    • it’s a sad joke, tragic comedy.

    • Obviously your name is not short for “macro” Mac, because it is macroeconomics that matter here, and which your comment ignores. Wind raises the cost of electricity at taxpayer expense. Higher electricity rates leverage a drop in competitiveness for every manufacturer across the board (from steel to cars to aluminum to to internet providers).

      The steel industry alone spends $18 billion on electricity every year. (American Steel Manufacturer’s Association Annual Report) That turns out to be $180,000 in electricity PER STEEL WORKER. A 10% increase in electricity costs, then, translates to $18,000 PER EMPLOYEE less profit, lower wage and benefit increases or lost business to lower-cost producers of steel like China.

      And so until wind can compete as a COMPLETE source of dispatchable CAPACITY to meet electricity demand (not just now-and-again spurts of energy that are negatively correlated with electricity demand), its cost can only be compared to the cost of fuel it saves – but not to the whole cost of electricity from conventional electricity suppliers which includes the cost of the conventional plants themselves. The plant costs often make up well over half of the levelized cost of electricity (DOE EIA Electric Power Annual, 2011), and fuel from 5% (nuclear) to 40% (natural gas combined cycle) of the total cost. The plant costs remain because wind doesn’t replace the need to keep them open and operating to match supply to demand – a feature wind scores an F in.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Thomas, wronggggggg…..

        Wind is lowering the cost of electricity. If you check you’ll find that cheap wind and cheap gas are causing problems for existing nuclear plants. If wind was causing electricity prices to rise then the nuclear industry would be smiling rather than quaking.

        * http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/business/energy-environment/economics-forcing-some-nuclear-plants-into-retirement.html?_r=1 *

        There is no need for wind to become a dispatchable source of electricity. That’s a job for something else like hydro or storage. Wind’s role is to be a large scale cheap source of power. Wind and solar will never be dispatchable, but they can provide most of our electricity, our energy, at a great price and we’ll need to figure out how to fill in the gaps. As offshore wind comes on line those gaps will get smaller and smaller.

        Right now taxpayers are paying about $1 billion dollars per day to pay for the hidden costs of coal. With renewables replacing coal we save that billion, day in and day out.

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