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New Energy Laws Take Effect in California

Electric cars figured heavy in new clean energy laws passed in 2014 in California | Photo:MAriordo59/Flickr/Creative Commons License

January 1 is a traditional day on which new laws approved by the California legislature go into effect, and a lot of new energy laws made their way past Governor Brown's desk in 2014. We've described the most important here.

SB 1275: Charge Ahead CA Initiative
This bill sets a goal for the State Air Resources Board of getting a million zero- or near-zero-emission vehicles on the road in California to replace older, more polluting cars, and compels the Board to come up with a plan to increase access to such vehicles (mainly electric cars) to lower- and middle-income Californians.

AB 2188: Solar energy permits
Requires counties and municipalities in California to adopt streamlined procedures for issuing permits for residential solar arrays by September 2015, and bans homeowners' associations and similar groups from requiring design changes to solar setups that increase a system's cost by more than 10 percent.

AB 1104: Biogas pipeline CEQA exemption
Exempts biogas pipelines from dairy facilities in Fresno, Kern, Kings, or Tulare counties from some aspects of environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act, at least as far as inspection, repair and maintenance of said pipelines is concerned.

AB 1566: Renderers and oil collection
Among many other things, this law addresses the increase in theft of used cooking oil by prohibiting renderers from accepting inedible kitchen grease from unlicensed sources.

AB 1937: Gas pipelines notification
Requires that gas companies give three days notice to schools or hospitals when scheduling non-emergency work on gas pipelines within 500 feet of those institutions.

AB 2137: Energy efficiency
Requires the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development and the state Public Utilities Commission to post energy efficiency info for small businesses on each agency's website.

AB 2218: Utility rates for food banks
This new law requires that the state's utilities develop rate assistance programs for the state's food banks.

AB 2227: California Clean Energy Jobs Act Citizens' Oversight Board
This procedural law defines terms of service and responsibilities for members of the citizens' board that oversees the state's $550 million annual Clean Energy Job Creation Fund, which was created by 2012's Prop 39 a.k.a. the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

AB 2597: PACE program
This law increases the cap for loans under the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority's "Property Assessed Clean Energy" (PACE) loan program from 10 to 15 percent of the value of a residential property whose total value is under $700,000.

SB 1414: Electricity demand response
Until January 1 2015, investor-owned utilities in California have been required to prove they have enough generating capacity arranged for to meet all their customers' projected demands -- referred to in grid engineers' argot as as "resource adequacy." SB 1414 tweaks the legal definition of resource adequacy so that California's investor-owned utilities can use demand response capacity -- programs in which they can selectively shut down large appliances and other major power users -- to calculate their available power resources. The law should help boost energy conservation, as in general it's cheaper for utilities to conserve power through demand response than it is to buy extra power.

SB 1371: Natural gas leaks
This new law requires the California Public Utilities Commission to set rules for tracking, reporting, and repairing leaks of natural gas, also called methane, from pipelines in the state, and to minimize such leakage as much as is possible due to methane's powerful greenhouse gas characteristics.

AB 2672: Disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley
This bill will oblige the State Public Utilities Commission to examine ways of making energy more readily available to residents of disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley, possibly including subsidized electrical rates and new natural gas pipelines.

SB 1265: State vehicle fleet fuel economy standard
As of 1/1/2015, non-plugin hybrid cars and light trucks owned by the State of California as part of the state's vehicle fleet are subject to the state's fleet fuel economy standard, now set at 27.5 MPG for passenger vehicles and 22.2 MPG for light-duty trucks. This will allow a subsequent raise in that fuel economy standard to levels that would basically require the state's fleet managers to purchase hybrid vehicles only, thus helping the state meet its goal of cutting government vehicle petroleum use 20 percent by 2020.

SB 1090: Time of use pricing
Orders the California Public Utilities Commission to consider the impact of "time of use pricing," in which more money is charged for electrical power consumed during peak periods, on residents of hotter interior parts of the state. The rationale for this new law is that time of use pricing may harm low-income residents in valley and desert communities who rely on air conditioning during peak consumption periods in order to stay safe.

AB 2414: Government parking facility car charging
Clarifies that use of electrical power for charging vehicles in government parking lots isn't a prohibited use of public funds.

AB 2565: Rental property car charging stations
Starting with leases signed July 1, 2015, most California landlords whose residential rental properties include parking spaces must at least consider written requests from tenants to install electric car charging stations at those parking spaces. The charging stations have to comply with local codes, and renters will have to buy $1 million in liability coverage. Landlords whose properties have fewer than five dwellings or are rent-controlled are exempt.

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