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Advocacy Update, April 2018

New Bill Proposals Related to Electrification- Status

Last month I provided a list of four proposed bills making their way through the California state legislature. This month I would like to report on the status of two of the four proposals. If passed, the bills would help pave the way to using electricity as a primary fuel source in residential and commercial buildings.

AB 3001

This first bill on the list was known as AB 3001 by Bonta. Here is my summary from last month.

AB 3001 – Bonta, Paves the way to swap out fossil fuels with clean energy to heat California’s homes and businesses. The bill would require the state to consider the greenhouse gas impacts of burning fossil fuels as part of cost-effectiveness determinations, which currently discourage converting from fossil fuels to electricity. This is a direct response to the state’s “three-prong-test” cost metric, which favors fossil fuel over electricity and discourages “fuel switching”. (sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council)

This bill would be a significant step in the right direction towards making fuel switching an accepted practice. Removing the barrier of the three-prong-test would expedite the transition to an electric future. Unfortunately, this proposal was heavily opposed, mostly from the Southern California Gas Company, and is now effectively dead. Although this is a setback, we will continue to work on ways to address the barrier created by the “three-prong-test”.  

AB 3232

he second of the four bills is AB 3232 by Friedman. The following is my summary from last month.

AB 3232 – Friedman, Would require all new buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2030. The bill also addresses existing buildings by requiring greenhouse gas reductions from existing buildings to be 50% below 1990 levels by Jan. 1st 2030.

We recently made a trip to the state capitol to provide testimony in support of this legislation. One thing that was clear in our support of AB 3232 was the number of stakeholders opposed to any such action. Even though this bill focused on greenhouse emissions many perceived it as an attempt to mandate electrification. As I have quickly learned, anything that looks like a push towards electrification is contentious. The number of public comments in opposition to the bill were surprising. The fossil fuel industry likes their existing business model and is well prepared to defend their position if they feel threatened. This must have felt like a threat to them, as there were plenty of folks lined up to provide their input on why this was a bad idea. After the smoke cleared the bill did pass, 6 yeas to 3 nays. The author of the bill will now move forward, filling in the blanks on some unspecified parts of the bill, and it will then make its way back through the process.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway of these efforts is that people don’t like change, and regardless of how rational your idea is there will be opposition. The battle to a clean energy future will be a long and hard journey. To be effective we need to work on making all forms of energy use more efficient, regardless of the fuel source. We will continue to support these bills, and other similar efforts as they arise. 

Charley Cormany
Executive Director