[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
66°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
August 21
1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]


By Martin Mascias Jr.

LOS ANGELES – In an effort to transform California’s relationship to energy markets in the western region of the country, lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a bill that would merge California into a regional energy market.

Under the terms of Assembly Bill 813, California would be lumped together with up to 13 western states in a regional energy grid, forming a wholesale electricity market stretching from Canada to Baja California.

Thirty-eight separate operators – known as “balancing authorities” – stretch across the interconnected western United States and make up approximately 20 percent of all the electric capacity in the United States and Canada, according to a state analysis on the bill.

The BAs ensure a real-time balancing of power system demand and supply across the region.

The bill would turn over decision-making power for California’s portion of that energy transmission from the nonprofit California Independent System Operator to the multistate organization.

Whether the bill will benefit consumers and the environment is a matter of considerable debate.

Governor Jerry Brown and several prominent environmental groups – including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund – are backing the idea, claiming it will cut costs for consumers and bring more clean energy into the state.

But opponents of the bill – at least 65 of which are listed in the state analysis – say deregulation of the market threatens the state’s transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, opens it up to malicious speculation and would cost residents billions of dollars in fees.

The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications committee approved the hotly contested energy bill in a 6-1 vote Tuesday, sending it on its way to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If the committee approves it, it will go to the full Assembly for a vote.

Melanie Cain, committee assistant for the Senate committee, said in an interview the votes in favor of the bill were “courtesy votes to move it out of committee” by next week’s deadline.

Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, cast the lone “no” vote.

“I agree that…grid regionalization could become a boondoggle as big as the so-called ‘Energy (partial) De-Reg’ debacle 22 years ago,” Vidak, who represents California’s 14th District, said in a statement on his website.

Vidak’s comment refers to the state legislature’s past unanimous approval of deregulation of the state’s electric power system.

CAISO, whose board members are appointed by the governor, was created after the deregulation incident.

“The politicians who try to force this issue onto us will ultimately pay the price as Gray Davis did,” Vidak said, referring to the former California governor who was ousted by a recall.

Liza Tucker, taxpayer advocate with nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, said in an interview that the prior legislative approval “opened the door to market manipulation by Enron,” drove a major utility company into bankruptcy, caused blackouts and forced California residents to overpay billions of dollars.

Consumer Watchdog released a 48-page report, “Betting Against The House: How California’s Leaders Could Gamble Away Our Energy Future On A Western Power Trading Casino,” on Monday that claimed AB 813 undermines California’s control of carbon emissions and pollution from power plants and will lead to the overturning of California laws.

If passed, the bill would eliminate California’s control of its own electricity market and force the state to buy power generated in other coal-heavy states, Tucker said

According to the state analysis of the bill, several opposing parties submitted concerns regarding the Trump administration’s “continued efforts to prop up coal and the risks of these efforts to undermine California’s climate policies.”

“It is the same bag of goods sold by Enron that put prices through the roof,” Tucker said. “We’ll be paying more for transmission than if we had our own systems.”

Enron was a U.S. energy-trading and utilities company that facilitated one of the biggest accounting frauds in history, using false narratives to inflate revenues.

The scheme doesn’t make sense to Tucker, since California’s three major investor-owned utilities are on track to generate half their retail sales from green energy sources by 2020, already operating mostly free of coal.

Californians could end up paying the lion’s share of multibillion-dollar transmission lines carrying coal power from nearby states, Tucker said.

“Billionaire investors, energy companies, and Wall Street banks see big profits off power exports to California that a regional power trading market would facilitate,” Tucker wrote in the report. “They see big opportunities in building expensive new transmission lines underwritten largely by Californians to vastly expand a speculative commodities market in which contracts for electricity, whether dirty or clean, are bought and sold like pork bellies.”

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet, whose Berkshire Hathaway company owns Pacific Northwest energy company Pacificorp, would be part of the reorganization scheme.

Ralph Cavanagh, energy program co-director at NRDC, disagreed with Tucker’s findings.

He said in an interview the bill enjoys broad support from solar energy producers, independent energy producers and environmental groups who claim it would reduce energy transmission costs.

“This bill will end the severe fragmentation of the state’s power grid,” he said, adding that state ratepayers could see at least $1.5 billion in savings.

Tucker disputed that number and said none of Cavanagh’s claims have been proven.

Governor Brown said he supports the bill because California could draw electricity from other states when green energy sources such as solar and wind are unreliable.

And the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) said in an April 13 statement that the bill would “unlock” the state’s energy system’s potential to “evolve into a modernized, decarbonized and high-performing” energy grid.

According to ACORE, the unified grid would allow the state to adjust to shifts in energy demand and support other states in their bids to transition toward renewable energy.

Assemblymember Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, authored AB 813.

Tuckers’ report calls out Holden as the fourth largest recipient in the Assembly of contributions from energy companies. He received a total of $71,750 between 2011-2018, according to campaign finance documents.

Holden’s office did not return a request for comment.

A December 2017 Los Angeles Times profile of Consumer Watchdog raised concerns about the donors who funded the organization.

Between 2012 and 2015, Consumer Watchdog accepted $260,000 in donations from political and corporate strategist Chris Lehane’s nonprofit, Main Street American Values, according to the LA Times, with one $45,000 payment made only weeks before Consumer Watchdog lent public support to one of Lehane’s clients, Airbnb.

Tucker did not respond to a request for comment about the organization’s funding.

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, said in a phone interview Monday that California officials haven’t learned the lesson of the previous deregulation crisis.

“We’re flying the red flag and letting legislators know who they’re in bed with,” he said. “This opens the door to Enron all over again.”

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1961 - CalArts grad (MFA '92) and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob SquarePants, born in Oklahoma; developed prototype for Spongebob while studying at CalArts in 1989. Estimated net worth in 2012: $90 million [story]
As Princess Cruises fleet expansion continues, the premium international cruise line reveals the name of the ship it will launch in 2020 – Enchanted Princess.
Princess Cruises Reveals Name of Fifth Royal-Class Ship
The College of the Canyons football program will kick off the 2018 season on the road at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1 vs. Saddleback College, in the first of 10 regular season games slated for the 2018 campaign.
Sept. 1: COC Cougars Kick Off 2018 Football Season
The next Santa Clarita Community College District’s Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, Aug. 22, starting at 4 p.m.
Aug. 22: COC Board of Trustees Business Meeting
Realtors helped close escrow during July on 215 single-family home sales and 90 condominiums throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Friday.
SCV Home, Condo Sales Softened in July, Resale Prices Climbed Higher
Bridge to Home is expanding its services to homeless people in the Santa Clarita Valley with increased funding from Measure H, and its new offices are getting a makeover donated by a local painting company.
Bridge to Home Expands, Gets Makeover from SCV Painting Company
Patricia Giggans has been elected chairperson and Priscilla Ocen has been approved as the vice chair of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, which works to boost transparency and increase trust between communities and the Sheriff’s Department.
LASD Civilian Oversight Panel Elects New Leadership
The city of Santa Clarita's Planning Commission will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, starting at 6 p.m.
Aug. 21: Santa Clarita Planning Commission Regular Meeting
Ty Culbreth delivered one of his season’s best performances, but the bullpen failed to protect a one-run lead in the eighth as the San Jose Giants rallied to beat the JetHawks, 4-1, on Sunday at Municipal Stadium.
JetHawks Bullpen Falters in Late Loss to Giants Sunday
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its crime information and public safety report for Castaic-Val Verde (Zone 2) for the week of Aug. 6-12, 2018.
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft, Burglary, Petty Theft in Castaic-Val Verde
California State University, Northridge will mark its 60th anniversary by inviting alumni from across the decades to take part in a Grand Reunion celebration at the campus Oct. 14-16.
CSUN to Celebrate Its 60th Anniversary with a Grand Reunion
Air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive people in the Santa Clarita Valley on Tuesday, according to an advisory from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
SCV Air Quality Unhealthy for Sensitive People Tuesday
State tax revenue on cannabis sales jumped from $60.9 million in the first quarter of 2018 to $74.2 million in the second quarter, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration reported Monday.
Cannabis Tax Revenue Hits New High in 2nd Quarter 2018
The city of Santa Clarita is seeking community feedback by noon Friday, Aug. 31 on a public safety grant proposal for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.
City Seeks Community Feedback on Proposed JAG Grant Application
The city of Santa Clarita has updated the list of film and television productions shooting in the city and the Santa Clarita Valley the week of Aug. 20-26, 2018.
‘Santa Clarita Diet,’ ‘Killer Therapy,’ ‘Dead Wrong’ Now Shooting in SCV
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce has published and will distribute 10,000 copies of its 2018-2019 SCV Business & Community Guide this week.
SCV Chamber Publishes New Business, Community Guide
The California Transportation Commission has approved funding for more than 100 transportation projects funded entirely or at least partly by $690 million from SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, including rehab of the southbound Highway 14 offramp to Sierra Highway.
State SB1 Funds to Help Rehab Highway 14 Sierra Highway Offramp
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Missing Persons Unit were seeking the public’s assistance in locating Jennifer “Jenny” Sison Mariano Monday, and she has been found and is "doing OK" according to a relative.
Missing Stevenson Ranch Woman Found, ‘Doing OK’
A federal judge in Los Angeles approved a settlement Friday requiring the Trump administration to prepare and implement plans to protect eight “wild and scenic” rivers in Southern California, including Piru Creek west of Santa Clarita.
Feds Settle to Protect Piru Creek, 7 More California Rivers
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia is proud to support National Breast Feeding Awareness Month during August and announces its designation as a breast milk drop-off location.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Supports Breast Feeding Awareness Month
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station has released its crime information and public safety report for Saugus (Zone 4) for the week of July 30-Aug. 5, 2018.
Crime Blotter: Grand Theft, Fire in Saugus
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has redesigned portions of the website for easier access to the most frequently used online services.
DMV Launches Updated Website with Improved Online Services
The Lancaster JetHawks dropped the middle game of their three-game series in San Jose, 6-2, to the Giants to on Saturday night at Municipal Stadium.
Series Even After JetHawks Fall to Giants Saturday
A federal judge has approved a joint plan by the Justice Department and American Civil Liberties Union to reunify parents who were deported without their kids under the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, though whether they will be allowed to return to the United States to seek asylum remains in limbo.
Judge OK’s DOJ-ACLU Plan to Reunite Kids, Deported Parents
Brian Serven delivered three hits, including a triple that led to the game-tying run and an extra-innings home run, to lead the JetHawks to a 9-6 win over the San Jose Giants in 10 innings on Friday night at Municipal Stadium.
JetHawks Come Back in 9th, Win in Extras Friday
1967 - New Town of Valencia dedicated; homes sell for $25,000 [story]
Search teams found the body of a man Saturday evening in a remote Santa Barbara County canyon near the Hot Springs Trailhead, where a vehicle belonging to a missing Los Angeles County Fire Department captain from Newhall was found Friday afternoon.
Body Found in Santa Barbara Near Missing Fire Captain’s Car
1879 - Newhall civic leader Charles Henry Kingsburry born in Missouri [story]
1946 - Pioneering Placerita Canyon movie producer Trem Carr dies in San Diego [story]
The JetHawks got some much-needed offense to beat Stockton, 9-7, Thursday night at The Hangar to end a five-game losing streak.
Offense Comes Through, JetHawks End 5-Game Skid
The Canyon Country Community Center’s next Sock Hop is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25, beginning at 7 p.m.
Aug. 25: Sock Hop at Canyon Country Community Center
Results of the first full year of Measure H funding are in, demonstrating widespread progress as services ramped up and thousands of individuals and families were housed temporarily or permanently, Los Angeles County officials said Friday.
Measure H First Year: Housing for 7,500, Help for Thousands More
The fire that destroyed the historic Big Oaks Lodge on Bouquet Canyon Road in Saugus Aug. 11-12 was an accident, Sgt. John Hanson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Arson & Explosives squad said Friday morning.
Big Oaks Lodge Fire an Accident, Arson Investigators Say
Lawmakers advanced a controversial bill Thursday that aims to reform California’s money bail system though recent amendments have alarmed advocates who say the current bill could authorize prosecutors and judges to promote indefinite pretrial detention.
State Lawmakers Advance Bail Overhaul, Police Transparency Bills
Nightly lane closures are scheduled to start Monday on Sierra Highway near Highway 14 as crews begin a paving project in and near the city of Santa Clarita, the California Department of Transportation announced Friday.
Caltrans to Repave 19 Miles of Sierra Highway in SCV
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges' Senior College and University Commission has placed The Master's University & Seminary on probation after a visiting WSCUC team in March found TMUS out of compliance with numerous accreditation standards.
‘Climate of Fear,’ Admin Issues Lead to Probation for The Master’s University