New bill would give more choices to control energy costs, encourage renewable energy

Sen. Bob Hertzberg seeks to provide businesses, schools, hospitals innovative power choices

March 2, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Pointing to how Google and the University of California are already making energy-saving power choices, Sen. Bob Hertzberg today announced introduction of an innovative plan that recognizes how the energy market has changed in the last decade.

“The concept is simple and proven: Give energy users more choices and they’ll have greater control over costs,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said about Senate Bill 286, which would allow other energy users to reduce energy costs while making California more business friendly and increasing access to renewable energy.

Hertzberg pointed to two recent developments he said underscore the need for his bill.

The first occurred last month when the University of California began supplying electricity to several campuses through a new wholesale purchasing program, a move designed to cut costs up to 10 percent this year while giving UC an option utilities can’t provide: carbon neutrality by 2025. The change now makes the Oakland-based UC system the only academic institution in California to be its own certified electric service provider.

The second development involves internet giant Google, which two weeks ago purchased a wind-energy source in the East Bay to help meet its energy needs.

“If renewable sources can meet the needs of companies and institutions that want to directly buy energy, this can only encourage further clean-energy development,” Hertzberg said. “SB 286 would allow more customers to make the same kind of cost-effective energy decisions.”

SB 286 would do this by increasing options for electricity customers to purchase electricity through a program called Direct Access. DA customers purchase electricity from an electric service provider, rather than a private utility. Both Google and UC are DA customers.

Existing law places a statewide cap on the amount of electricity that can be delivered through DA service. In 2014, it was about 12 percent of the statewide electrical demand. Since the current DA market was opened in 2011, however, demand for alternative electricity service has remained high – with a long waiting list.

SB 286 would lift the cap so more businesses, universities, hospitals and other entities can pursue aggressive renewable energy goals. The bill would affect those in the utility areas served by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric.

Andrea Deveau, executive director of TechNet, which represents companies such as Google and Apple, agreed, praising SB 286 for recognizing that businesses and customers are increasingly seeking alternative energy providers and sources. 

“When it comes to energy consumption, one size doesn't fit all,” Deveau said. “Hertzberg’s bill will empower more California consumers and businesses to make customized energy choices.” 

SB 286 will be set for its initial policy hearing later this spring.

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 286, visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.

Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or  at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district.  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg built an international renewable energy business; invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through two civic groups: California Forward and the Think Long Committee of California. More HERE or at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Ray Sotero
Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell
www.sen.ca.gov/hertzberg

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