Legislation Protecting Renewable Energy Facilities Clears First Senate Committee

SB 1299 corrects uneven pricing between older and newer renewable energy contracts, thereby allowing older facilities to continue operating

April 19, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Contracts for California’s first wave of renewable energy facilities, built and producing power before the state first adopted its renewable energy targets in 2002, are expiring, and many facilities are in danger of shutting down because they are locked into low prices.

Legislation authored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, aims to prevent this from happening by allowing small renewable facilities to renegotiate contracts with utilities at fairer prices. SB 1299 was passed Tuesday by the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee and goes next to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“California has ramped up production of new renewable energy to meet its climate goals. That’s the good news,” Hertzberg said. “But the bad news is many existing renewable energy facilities are being forgotten. We must find a way to keep all our facilities operating and in good repair.”

Virtually all renewable energy projects operating in California prior to the adoption of the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2002 were developed under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) law. Under PURPA, California added more renewable energy than any other state – approximately 5,000 megawatts (MW) of geothermal, biomass, and wind generation – and almost all of that is still in operation today.

Unfortunately, many of these contracts have expired. As a result, many California renewable energy landmarks, such as the San Gorgonio Pass and Altamont Pass wind farms, are deteriorating because the standard contract prices are insufficient.

“Providing a sufficient and fair price will ensure these facilities continue to generate renewable energy, support local jobs, pay local taxes, and remain available to help achieve higher RPS goals when the time comes,” Hertzberg said.

The bill is sponsored by the California Wind Energy Association.

"We know that California will need a lot of wind energy to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals most cost-effectively,” said Nancy Rader, Executive Director of the California Wind Energy Association. “This bill will help ensure that the projects we've already got remain viable for when they are needed."

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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 at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district.  After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. Learn more at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew LaMar
Communications Director
Senator Robert M. Hertzberg
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 651-4018

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