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Calif. governor signs gas plant siting, storage and many other energy bills

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Calif. governor signs gas plant siting, storage and many other energy bills

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed bills to requireutilities to locate fossil fuel power plants outside of disadvantagedcommunities and to enhance energy storage and distributed energy resourcemarkets.

Assembly Bill 1937, authored by assembly member Jimmy Gomez,was written to protect communities already disproportionately burdened withpollution associated with natural gas generation. The new law, which Brownannounced on Sept. 26 that he signed, requires utilities to put the plantselsewhere and instead deploy clean energy solutions such as solar projects indisadvantaged communities.

"California leaders put communities first by taking astep to protect people already breathing some of the state's dirtiest air fromfurther fossil fuel development in their backyards," Environmental DefenseFund Clean Energy Manager Lauren Navarro said in a statement.

The new law requires investor-owned utilities that bid fornew gas-fired generation to give preference to resources that are not locatedin heavily polluted communities and directs the state Public UtilitiesCommission to ensure utility procurement plans apply provisions of the new law.It does not apply to utility contracts signed before Jan. 1, 2017, and excludesrepowering projects to refurbish existing gas-fired plants.

"A.B. 1937 is an important step towards bringingjustice to communities who have long suffered the disproportionate burdens ofliving next to polluting power plants," California Environmental JusticeAlliance Co-Director Strela Cervas said by email.

The law further requires utilities to make all feasibleefforts to meet any identified resource need through renewable energy, energystorage, energy efficiency and demand reduction resources.

To that end, Brown also signed four energy storage billsthat are collectively aimed at expanding behind-the-meter and utility-scaleenergy storage markets, creating new clean energy jobs, reducing distributedenergy resource interconnection challenges, and ensuring that bulk energystorage is part of California's renewable energy future, the California EnergyStorage Alliance said in a newsrelease.

A.B. 1637 increases Self Generation Incentive Programfunding by $249 million to encourage behind-the-meter energy storage for thepurposes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting thenext-generation electric grid, the alliance said. The PUC will direct 75% ofthe program budget for energy storage.

A.B. 2868 requires the PUC to direct California's threelargest investor-owned utilities to accelerate the deployment of distributedenergy storage by filing applications for new programs and investments of up to500 MW in addition to the 1,325-MW procurement goal California established in2013.

A.B. 2861 authorizes the PUC to create an expediteddispute-resolution process for distributed, behind-the-meter energy resourcesattempting to interconnect with utility distribution networks. The bill also isdesigned to reduce interconnection costs.

A.B. 33 directs the PUC and California Energy Commission toevaluate the potential for all types of long-duration, bulk energy storage,such as pumped hydro, to help integrate renewable generation.

Alliance Executive Director Janice Lin said the legislationwill help enable energy storage to become a mainstream energy resource bymitigating unwarranted market and interconnection barriers.

In September, Brown also signed the following energy-relatedbills:

• A.B. 1110 requires all retail electricity suppliers toreport annually to customers the greenhouse gases emissions intensity of theirelectricity sources.

• A.B. 1773 expands the Renewable Energy Self-GenerationBill Credit Transfer Program to allow joint powers authorities to participateas well as the local government entities that created them.

• A.B. 1923 increases the maximum capacity of a biomassgenerator allowed to enter into a must-take, feed-in tariff contract with alocal electrical corporation from 3 MW to 5 MW.

• A.B. 1979 creates a conditional exception to the existingfeed-in tariff program eligibility limit of 3 MW to allow any conduithydroelectric facility with a nameplate generating capacity of up to 4 MW toparticipate.

• A.B. 2313 increases ratepayer-funded incentive amountsavailable to encourage development of biomethane projects and directs the PUCto consider directing more ratepayer funds for gas pipeline interconnectionsfor those projects.

• S.B. 887 requires the California Air Resources Board todevelop a monitoring program for natural gas storage facilities to identifyleaks.

• S.B. 888 establishes the California Office of EmergencyServices as the lead agency for emergency response to a leak of natural gasfrom a natural gas storage facility.

• S.B. 968 requires an assessment of the regional economiceffect that would result from closure of PG&E Corp. subsidiary 'sDiablo Canyonnuclear plant.

• S.B. 1028 requires publicly owned and investor-ownedelectric utilities to evaluate the wildfire risk their electric facilities poseand produce wildfire mitigation plans.

• S.B. 1074 directs $2.5 million of Federal Trust Funds forgrants in lithium recovery from brine at geothermal projects as a potentialsource for electric vehicle batteries.

• S.B. 1207 extends by 10 years the sunset on the EnergyConservation Assistance Account to provide low-interest loans for energyefficiency improvements at facilities used by local governments.

• S.B. 1414 directs the California Energy Commission toapprove a plan to promote installation of energy-efficient central airconditioning and heat pumps.

• S.B. 1425 requires the California Environmental ProtectionAgency to develop and administer a registry of greenhouse gas emissionsresulting from the water-energy nexus.

• S.B. 1464 requires that the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fundinvestment plan includes additional assessments and recommended metrics forproposed investments.