URGENT: Speak Up Against Utility’s Effort to Undermine Climate Bill SB 350

20150817SB350We’ve been tracking SB 350, which aims to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California in the coming decades. The bill is closely contested in the California Assembly, where it will be voted on in the next few days. Lobbyists and industry stakeholders have been leveraging all their might to fight the bill – or use it as a bargaining chip to get amendments they want. That’s just what happened with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the counterpart of PG&E in San Diego. SDG&E pushed for an amendment that, if passed, would be harmful to local Community Choice Energy programs. Community Choice Energy programs, which are already serving residents in Marin County, Sonoma County, Napa County, Benicia, Richmond, San Pablo and El Cerrito, and are under study for Alameda County, have been the target of utility company lobbying because they create alternatives to the monopoly these utilities have on energy infrastructure and power supply. The proposed SDG&E amendments undermine the goals of SB 350 to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Below is a letter that we encourage you to send to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (for those in his district), bill author Senator Kevin de León, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins as soon as possible.

Sample Letter

Send to:

  • Toni Atkins: assemblymember.atkins@assembly.ca.gov, Deanna.spehn@asm.ca.gov
  • Kevin de Léon: kip.lipper@sen.ca.gov, senator.deleon@senate.ca.gov
  • Tony Thurmond: Mary.Nicely@asm.ca.gov, Opio.dupree@asm.ca.gov

Subject: SB 350 support without SDG&E “equal treatment” amendments

I’m writing to express strong support for the goals of SB 350. However, I’m very concerned about recent proposed “equal treatment” amendments by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to limit Community Choice energy programs such as Marin Clean Energy and the forthcoming East Bay Community Energy program for Alameda County.

SDG&E’s proposed language limits local decision making and increases costs for customers of Community Choice programs. First, SDG&E’s proposal to allow the CPUC to have authority over a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) procurement plan undermines local control and policy making. Under existing state law, “A CCA shall be solely responsible for all generation procurement activities on behalf of the CCA’s customers, except where other generation procurement arrangements are expressly authorized by statute.” [Public Utilities Code Section 366.2(a)(5)].

Allowing the CPUC oversight of CCA procurement not only contravenes existing law but also robs the community of local control of programs and policies. It also adds a significant burden to the CPUC and reduces straightforward governance structures by local elected leaders.

Second, SDG&E’s proposed amendment to ensure that customers do not experience any costs increases as a result of implementation of a CCA program is both redundant and dangerously expands current practices. Under Public Utilities Code Section 366.2(a)(4)], utilities can and do recover procurement costs lost due to CCA customers through departing load charges (aka “exit fees”) that are assessed to CCA customers every month. The legislature should not adopt new language expanding monopoly utilities’ ability to penalize Community Choice customers with onerous exit fees.

Community Choice programs embody many of the goals of SB 350, including increasing renewable energy. I urge you to encourage Senator de Léon to reject SDG&E’s proposed amendments and pass a clean version of SB 350 that does not undermine one of our strongest tools for addressing climate change.

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