Sen. Bob Hertzberg announces plan to create renewable energy market with other Western states to help fight climate change

Measure will be pursued in 2016

September 10, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Power users in California and neighboring Western states would have greater access to more reliable and less expensive sources of renewable energy under a plan to fight climate change unveiled today by Sen. Bob Hertzberg.

“This could be the biggest, most progressive renewable-energy policy to shine on the Golden State in decades,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said about Senate Bill 155, which he plans to pursue next year. “For the first time, California would be able to increase and extend its domestic clean-energy economy and renewable power industry to other states, showing the way to a clean energy future.”

With the goal of dramatically improving how Western states access and trade renewable energy resources like solar, wind, geothermal and others, SB 155 acknowledges that many renewable resources, like solar and wind, are intermittent; that is, the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing.

Moreover, these resources aren’t always available when needed. For some of the year California’s peak power demand is in the evening, as the sun sets. Fortunately, this is usually when evening breezes pick up in the Northwest.

As envisioned by Hertzberg, coordinating these assets across the Western region would substantially increase use of green energy.  

Buttressing Hertzberg’s plan is a recent study by the California Independent System Operator. An efficient Western grid could lower pollution levels by nearly 2.6 million metric tons annually, the equivalent of removing more than 230,000 cars from the road each year.

Specifically, SB 155 would outline how electricity grid operators in Western states participate in an energy marketplace that would comply with greenhouse gas rules, balance power delivery, avoid costly development of duplicative infrastructure, increase transmission-grid efficiency and raise awareness of energy availability and pricing. Any imported coal-generated energy would be subject to the California’s cap-and-trade program.

Hertzberg said he hopes the plan can take advantage of renewable power sources in neighboring states and further green California's power grid during peak times.

Conversely, Hertzberg’s plan would also allow California to export its own renewable power to other states that currently rely on coal-fired power plants. Recent energy measurements and forecasts by state regulators show that California has more solar power during the middle of the day than can be used.

That excess energy means legacy renewable providers – like aging wind, biomass, and geothermal sources – lack ready markets for their green energy. Enhancing regional coordination would provide more stable markets and piggy-back on new federal efforts cracking down on power-plant emissions.

“Nearly every study agrees that regional integration is the best and the cheapest way to achieve high penetration of renewable energy,” Hertzberg said, referring to the challenges of integrating solar and wind.

 “We’ll need to move carefully but with intentionality,” said Hertzberg, who, as an Assembly member from 1996 to 2002, including two years as Speaker, oversaw the last great change in California's energy markets, precipitated by an energy crisis. “This bill represents the beginning of a multi-year process that will lead to significant strides on growing our green economy.”

California’s current electricity grid operator, the non-profit ISO, has been piloting a regional marketplace called the Energy Imbalance Market. Participating entities have benefited from smoother operations and reduced costs, which translates to lower rates for ratepayers. About 80 percent of Californians are currently served by utilities that work through the ISO. The plan for regional integration would add several million more customers from other Western states.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” he said. “SB 155 will be the belts and suspenders to make sure we can achieve our goals while increasing reliability and reducing costs to Californians.”

For more, 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  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. More HERE or at


Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell; or