By Lorenzo Kristov, Davis resident and energy policy professional
Two new bills in the California Senate — SB 1314 (Bill Dodd) and SB 1240 (Nancy Skinner) — can open the way for cities, counties, energy customers and third parties to plan and deploy clean local energy resources to address resilience and sustainability. These bills initiate a major shift in energy planning and decision making to local governments and communities, rather than relying entirely on the centralized, top-down utility energy planning that has dominated energy policy in California for decades.
SB 1314 (Dodd), the Community Energy Resilience Act (CERA) directs the Strategic Growth Council to develop and implement a grant program for local governments to develop community energy resilience plans, i.e., plans to ensure continued electric power supply to critical facilities when power from the grid is down due to planned de-energization or unplanned disaster.
SB 1240 (Skinner) directs the CEC in collaboration with the California ISO to evaluate options for transforming the utilities’ distribution grids into more “open-access platforms” to allow local governments and other third parties to deploy local renewable energy generation, storage, and load management resources. This means the utilities’ role would be to facilitate energy projects planned by local governments and communities, rather than use their monopoly status to make the deployment decisions and control the resulting projects.
The Climate Center in Santa Rosa, with whom I’ve collaborated for over a year to develop the policies embodied in these bills, has been the prime mover in working with Legislators to submit the bills and grow a coalition of support to advance them through the Legislature. This article by Kurt Johnson, the Climate Center’s program manager, has more information on the bills.