Schwarzenegger Vetoes Senate’s Version Of RPS, Signs Feed-In-Tariff Bills


As he vowed last month after directing the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to implement a 33% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by July 2020, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., has vetoed S.B.14., which called for an identical RPS target.

After the news of the veto, State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who authored the bill, reiterated to the San Mateo Daily Journal that Schwarzenegger's executive order carries less staying power than a bill.

‘As soon as he leaves office, the next governor could undo the order,’ Simitian said. ‘The order could be wiped off the books in 18 months.’

S.B.14 drew criticism from opponents who believed it would create barriers to renewable energy deployment, the San Mateo Daily Journal reports. Southern California Edison Vice President Stuart Hemphill urged Schwarzenegger to veto the bill, stating it would ‘require Southern California Edison to take its eye off the ball in terms of focusing on transmission.’

‘As a world leader in climate change and renewable energy development, California needs a regional approach that provides streamlined regulatory processes and compliance flexibility that facilitate the timely construction of in-state resources,’ Schwarzenegger said in his message accompanying the veto.

‘This legislative package does the opposite: adds new regulatory hurdles to permitting renewable resources in the state while, at the same time, limiting the importation of cost-effective renewable energy from other states in the West,’ he continued.

Contrary to what some of the bill's critics have claimed, S.B.14 permits utility companies to buy renewable energy from outside California, Simitian's office explains to Solar Industry.

Although the bill provides incentives for renewable energy development within California, it imposes no limit on out-of-state energy, provided that it can be delivered within 24 hours. A limit applies only to renewable energy credits from out of state.

Whether similar provisions will appear in CARB's version of the RPS remains to be seen, Simitian's office added. No details on the forthcoming mandate – including whether permitting procedures for large-scale renewable energy projects will differ from those included in S.B.14 – have been released.

In addition, Schwarzenegger signed A.B.920, which amends the Public Utility Code to ‘permit incentives for green energy by allowing homeowners with residential solar and wind renewable energy systems to be paid by their electric utility for any excess power generated at their home,’ according to the office of the bill's sponsor, Assemblymember Jared Huffman.

‘By giving solar system owners fair compensation for the surplus electricity they generate above and beyond their own on-site electricity needs, A.B.920 removes a perverse incentive for solar system owners to waste electricity so as not to give any way or 'lose' any to the utility,’ adds Environment California, which supports the bill. ‘Furthermore, A.B.920 would encourage greater efficiency and conservation at home and at a solar business.’

(For the full text of A.B.920, click here.)

S.B.32, which Schwarzenegger also signed, modifies the feed-in tariff for larger-scale projects. This legislation ‘would revise and expand the feed-in tariff (FIT) program from 1.5 MW to 3 MW for eligible renewable electric generation facilities and authorizes the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to adjust the rate to reflect the value of the electricity and other attributes,’ Schwarzenegger noted.

(For the full text of S.B.32, click here.)

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