Bipartisan Support for Renewable Energy Bill

Environment California, Large Industry Team Up to Advance Renewable Energy Bill (AB 864-Huffman)

Environment California

SACRAMENTO – In a rare showing of bipartisan support for clean energy, AB 864 (Huffman) passed out of the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee yesterday afternoon. Backing the bill was an even rarer coalition of environmentalists working alongside large manufacturers who want to invest in green energy as a way to comply with the state’s global warming law, AB 32.

“This is a broad and unusual coalition that results in a win-win for everyone,” said Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael). “Californians get cleaner air, California manufacturers get cheaper electric bills, and we spur creation of construction and operation jobs at a time when we most need it.”

AB 864 aims to give large, industrial energy customers such as cement plants financial incentives for investing in on-site clean energy such as wind turbines. The on-site energy is often referred to as “distributed generation” because the electricity is generated locally, where it is needed. Current policies aimed at spurring investment in this kind of localized power have left out the extremely large energy consumers, like big industrial operations, by placing a cap on the size of the renewable energy project at one to three megawatts. AB 864 would amend the Self Generation Incentive Program to allow industrial facilities to install an energy system up to 10 megawatts in size. A ten megawatt system is roughly equivalent to installing an average sized solar system on 2500 homes.

“If we are going to solve global warming and become truly energy independent, we need to tap into clean energy throughout the state,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, with Environment California, co-sponsor of the bill. “California’s clean energy future must give large industrial facilities a chance to be green just as we do for small homeowners.”

The California Large Energy Users Association (CLECA), the industry trade group representing large industrial energy consumers, is also helping push the bill. Facing tough greenhouse gas regulations per AB 32, the state’s global warming law, large energy users like cement plants need to take advantage of on-site clean energy in order to shrink their carbon footprint.

“Investing in on-site clean energy technologies like wind power is one of the best ways we can cut our greenhouse gas emissions while also saving on our energy bills,” said Barbara Barkovich of CLECA.

AB 864 passed out of Assembly Utilities & Commerce committee yesterday by a vote of 13-0. It will be heard next in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.