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Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez’s renewable energy bill pulled

A bill by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez that once sought to increase California’s renewable energy standards has been pulled from consideration in the Legislature.

Pérez, a Coachella Democrat, said he disagreed with amendments that were added into Assembly Bill 177 during committee hearings to deal with costs of integrating green energy sources to the grid.

Utilities have been seeking new regulations that will allow them to include the greater costs of integrating intermittent wind and solar to the grid as one way to help geothermal compete. But Pérez on Thursday said he feared the change to his legislation could ultimately add costs to consumers.

“It’s not our focus. Our focus was to prioritize geothermal,” Pérez said. “I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t want to move a bill that could potentially raise costs for wind and solar, and ultimately the ratepayer.”

AB 177 was the most high- profile of nine pieces of legislation that Pérez and Palm Desert Republican Assemblyman Brian Nestande had carried over from last year’s session.

Only three of them remained up for consideration as the Assembly rushed to a Friday deadline to pass what are known as two-year bills.

Pérez’s AB 175, dealing with health care coverage for low-income workers or undocumented immigrants, and Nestande’s AB 944, which would have set standards for distance learning courses, both stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 177 initially would have raised the state’s renewable energy targets of 33 percent by 2020.

Instead, the bill proposed a new goal of 51 percent by 2030 and required utilities to base purchases of renewable power not only on cost but the project’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions and grid reliability.

Language addressing integration costs was added to the bill when it was reviewed by the Assembly’s Utilities and Commerce Committee, then removed when it was heard by the Natural Resources Committee, according to Pérez.

The concept returned to the bill as it was reviewed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Pérez is now planning new legislation to achieve a related goal of having the California Energy Commission to examine the issues and barriers surrounding geothermal as part of the state’s Integrated Energy Policy Report.

Although AB 177 didn’t achieve its original intent of raising the bar on renewable energy standards, Pérez on Thursday praised the fact that it got people to consider the idea.

“We knew, quite frankly that without a bill there is no conversation. I’m always trying to think about how our region and the Salton Sea are going to be included,” he said.

“It was an honest attempt to at least begin the conversation. As a result of that, we got the attention of a lot of people. … We want to continue this conversation.”