We are getting an eye-opening education on how laws are made here in California, who makes them, why they make them and how much the public’s opinion counts when they weigh-in during the process.
The good news is, if you can bring together a coalition of over 150 cities, counties, organizations, clubs and groups you can get big changes made in laws that are written for big corporations by their paid partners in the Legislature.
And that’s why yesterday, in the California State Senate Appropriations Committee hearing another of the bullets aimed at the head of our state’s Community Choice Power programs, was removed from the gun held by Assemblymember Steven Bradford, the monopoly utility’s representative in Sacramento.
Bradford’s crystal ball bullet, the one he wrote into his bill specifically to stop all new Community Choice Power programs from launching and designed to kill the existing Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power programs, was removed from the bill… just before it passed unanimously from the Appros Committee with two more bad bullets still left in the gun.
Yesterday’s vote on bill happened in less than 15 seconds with no discussion as part of the whirlwind bill voting session that happens every year in our State Capitol. Today’s newspaper (on-line or print) doesn’t even mention this one vote of the hundreds that took place and the only way you’d know about it is if you or someone you know cared about this particular bill. Like we do.
It took thousands of volunteer hours and even a few thousand dollars in small donations to lobby against this bill successfully enough to have the provision removed that would have required Community Choice Power programs to provide their electric rates five years in advance. No such requirement exists for SCE, PG&E or SDG&E and the reason it doesn’t is because no one in the energy business knows what will be happening to rates five years from now.
The provision is only in the bill to kill CCAs – as Community Choice Power is called in Sacramento – which has always been AB 2145’s sole intention.
In an earlier round in Sacramento, when this same bill was before the energy committee, our broad opposition to this bill forced its centerpiece and whole reason for being to be completely removed. That was the “opt-in/opt-out” clause which was another very obvious provision designed to stop any new Community Choice Power program to be formed.
Unfortunately when that clause was forced to be removed, Assemblymember Bradford, who is on record as trying to slow down our efforts to respond to climate change, added new Community Choice-killing provisions to his bill – including the crystal ball, which is also now been forced out.
Both of these provisions were presented as “consumer protection” features by the former Public Affairs Vice President for Southern California Edison who recently told consumers at his town hall that solar panels do not work in places like Gardena, or Inglewood, or Hawthorne.
Since no other program in the entire state of California does more to accelerate the installation of local renewable power especially solar, it’s no surprise that someone who is anti-rooftop solar and primarily protective of the profits of his former employer and current campaign donor, would be against Community Choice Power.
But what IS surprising is that the we have had to fight so hard to keep this bill from killing Community Choice. What IS surprising is why this bill wasn’t voted down in the first place when it came to the Assembly and then again when it went to the Senate and then again on August 4 when it went to a different Senate Committee and once more again yesterday when it came back to that same committee.
And now we have to spend more time and energy working on defeating this bill when it comes to a vote of the full California Senate because it still has provisions written specifically to prevent Community Choice Power from fairly and equally competing with the for-profit monopoly utilities – like the one Assemblyman Bradford was employed by for a dozen years.
But spend that time we will, and we have already reached out to our great environmental State Senator, Ted Lieu, for his help and his vote. Senator Lieu, who is running for retiring Congressman Henry Waxman’s seat in the House, is making climate change his number one priority. So a bill written by someone who thinks we are moving too quickly to address climate change, and a bill that targets our State’s most effective program to rapidly increase our use of renewable energy will be an easy decision for Senator Lieu.
To make it even easier, please let Senator Lieu know that you’d like a chance to pay less for your electricity, get paid for any extra renewable energy you make, have decisions about your electricity made at your local level, and have much more renewable power used to make your electricity. Please call Senator Lieu’s local office at (310) 318-6994 or write him a an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know you ask for his “NO” vote on AB 2145.