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

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
67°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 21-22
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [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
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]
The annual "Fun in the Sun" Chili Cook-Off staged by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to benefit the Special Olympics is set for Saturday, Oct. 20 from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. at the Jack Bones Equestrian Center in Castaic.
Oct. 20: LASD ‘Fun in the Sun’ Chili Cook-Off to Benefit Special Olympics
College of the Canyons administrators alerted students and faculty Friday morning to a report of an unwanted sexual encounter Thursday in a COC restroom.
Unwanted Sexual Encounter Reported at COC
Brian O’Connor has been promoted to vice president brand and corporate communication at Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises.
Princess Cruises Ups O’Connor to VP Brand, Corporate Communications
Santa Clarita City Councilmembers on Tuesday night will discuss how to respond to county planners' request that developers consider a homeless shelter in Phase II of the proposed Tesoro del Valle housing project just north of city limits.
Oct. 23: City to Weigh Response to County Idea for Tesoro Homeless Shelter
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold its next meetings at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 23.
Oct. 23: Santa Clarita City Council Regular, Special Meetings
The National Weather Service issued an urgent red flag warning at 3 p.m. Friday that will remain in effect in the Santa Clarita Valley until 10 p.m. due to gusty Santa Ana wind and low humidity.
Red Flag Warning Flies Till 10 Friday Night
The registration deadline to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election is Monday, Oct. 22, at 11:59 p.m.
Oct 22: Last Day to Register to Vote in Nov. 6 Election
In less than three weeks, California’s 19 million voters will decide a slate of midterm ballot measures aimed at easing the state’s affordable housing crisis, but not all initiatives may bring residents the relief they seek.
State Voters Eye Ballot Measures for Solutions to Housing Crisis
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, Oct. 23, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Oct. 23: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Lane closures on Soledad Canyon Road due to film-related activity near the Saugus Speedway will begin at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and end at approximately 4 a.m. Wednesday, according to an alert from the city of Santa Clarita.
Lane Closures on Soledad for Filming Set for Tuesday Night
Night work on the city of Santa Clarita's Sierra Highway pedestrian bridge project will take place at the construction site on Sierra Highway north of Golden Valley Road on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Oct. 23: Night Work on New Sierra Highway Pedestrian Bridge
East LA College will visit Cougar Stadium Saturday night, and all SCV youth football and cheer teams — Santa Clarita Cowboys, Grizzlies, Spartans, Vikings, Warriors, Wildcats and teams from other parks and recreation programs — are invited to attend the game free of charge when wearing a school jersey or uniform.
COC Invites SCV Youth Football, Cheer Programs to Saturday’s Game
To increase awareness about school bus safety among motorists, parents, teachers and students, the California Highway Patrol will observe National School Bus Safety Week Oct. 22-26.
Oct. 22-26: CHP Rides with School Bus Safety Week
Oct. 21-27 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department wants to remind parents and guardians the importance of talking to their teen drivers about new responsibilities and rules that come with operating a vehicle.
Oct. 21-27: LASD Rolls with National Teen Driver Safety Week
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested a Long Beach man on multiple charges for weapons and drugs earlier this week, according to officials.
SCV Deputies Arrest Long Beach Man in Gorman on Multiple Charges
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation presents its latest “Recreation After Dark” event, “Goin’ Country at Hart.”
Oct. 19: Goin’ Country at Hart to Feature Moldy Marvin, Highway 138
ARCADIA, Calif. — On Wednesday, Jerry Perez officially reported to the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, where he will serve as the new Forest Supervisor, replacing Jeff Vail, who accepted the position of deputy director for Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources in the Forest Service’s Washington Office.
New Angeles National Forest Supervisor Excited About New Position
Le Chene French Cuisine has announced that they will be hosting two special events coming to you in November.
Le Chene Invites Residents to November Celebrations
The Valencia High School Marching Band and Color Guard held their first major fundraising event for their band season.
Valencia High School Marching Band Appreciates Support from Community
The city of Santa Clarita will present three music-related sessions at the 2018 Arts Symposium at The Centre on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Oct. 20: Art Symposium to Stage 3 Music Sessions
It makes good sense to review your coverage each year. Make sure your plan still is a good fit for you in terms of cost, coverage, and quality.
How to Shop for Medicare Plans | Commentary by Greg Dill
StarKist Co. has agreed to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of packaged seafood sold in the United States, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
StarKist Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing
The First Presbyterian Church of Newhall will be performing “The Green Velvet Christmas Dress.”
Newhall Church to Present ‘The Green Velvet Christmas Dress’
Decorated with fun embellishments such as puffy paint, tulle fabric, feathers and even bubble wrap, artist Georgette Arison’s mixed-media art in “Dressing Up is Fun,” the newest art exhibit at the Newhall Community Center, uses unconventional methods to showcase costume design.
‘Dressing Up is Fun’ Exhibit Now Showcasing at Newhall Community Center
Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, the Santa Clarita Oktoberfest is a Southern California twist on the original Oktoberfest held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
Oct. 19, 20: Santa Clarita Oktoberfest
College of the Canyons has been ranked No. 29 by the Hispanic Outlook on Education Magazine’s Top 100 colleges and universities list for graduating Hispanic students.
Hispanic Outlook Ranks COC No. 29 on Top 100 List
Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, a United States Air Force Thunderbirds pilot and a graduate of Saugus High School who died on April 4 during a routine aerial training flight in the Nevada Test and Training Range, lost consciousness before the fatal crash, according to a report released by the Air Force.
Report: Santa Clarita Thunderbirds Pilot Lost Consciousness Before Crash
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to close 62 campground pit toilets, considered to be large capacity cesspools, at seven national forests across California.
Forest Service Forced to Close Cesspools in State’s National Forests
The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) released its annual account Wednesday of hate crimes reported throughout Los Angeles County in 2017.
LA County Hate Crimes Continue to Rise
Sheriff Jim McDonnell has named Sergio Perez, a Los Angeles native, as his Constitutional Policing Advisor to assist the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) in sustaining reform and advancing justice for the diverse communities we serve.
LASD Names New Constitutional Policing Adviser
Every year, department members who perform acts of great courage and heroism, who go above and beyond the call of duty to save the lives of others while placing their own lives at risk, are honored and recognized at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony.
LASD Department Members, Private Citizens Recognized at Award Ceremony
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
The Probation Reform and Implementation Team met Wednesday to discuss a new mission and vision for the nation’s largest Probation Department, and consider an organizational structure that supports separate adult and juvenile probation operations in Los Angeles County.
County Officials Weigh Juvenile, Adult Probation Reform