Everything Old is New Again Except Now Wrapped In Green

With a flurry of media advisories, a press kit and a press conference, the Democratic leaders of the Legislature introduced a package of four bills February 2 they said would create green jobs and boost the state’s economy.

The Clean Energy Jobs Initiative, as they called it, was touted as “a plan to jumpstart California’s clean energy business sector and spur job creation.”

Despite the lofty title, three of the four bills are retreads from last year – one was vetoed, two failed passage. The fourth, which is new, tries to salvage a program created last year but rejected by the federal government.

“I believe this is a strong package that will help California immeasurably,” said Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Los Angeles Democrat in a statement.

As yet, the two bills carried by Assembly members Manny Perez, a Cathedral City Democrat, and Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, have yet to be introduced.

Perez, however, is familiar with his new bill. He introduced the same measure last year as AB 960. Actually, it started out as a bill about body armor until he Perez gutted it June 3 in the Senate.

What AB 960 became would have allowed wind and geothermal power plants  — in his district — to pay in-lieu fees to mitigate the impact of their projects as a way to site them sooner.

An previously passed Senate bill offered the same deal to 19 solar projects in the area that were eligible for federal economic stimulus funds.

In an analysis by the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Committee, here was the only argument offered in support of Perez’s bill:

“The author is strongly committed to the development of renewable energy, green jobs and clean technology in his district, parts of which have unemployment rates of 30 percent or more. He views this bill as an integral part of improving the economic condition of his constituents.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, also didn’t need any briefing on the contents of his bill, SB 148, to create the “Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Job Training, Career Technical Education and Dropout Prevention Program.”

This year’s measure, which Steinberg says will “prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s high-demand careers,” bears an uncanny resemblance to 2010’s SB 675, the Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Job Training, Career Technical Education and Dropout Prevention Program.”

In his veto message, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the balance in the fund Steinberg wanted to use to pay for his proposed $8 million program – the same fund Steinberg wants to use this year – was so low it would require a surcharge on energy users.

“More importantly, I will not support increasing the surcharge on electricity users to fund a K-12 Education program.  To do so would start a dangerous precedent,” the GOP governor said.

Steinberg’s bill was part of the Senate Democrats’ “Agenda 2010,” a series of 25 bills Democrats said would create 140,000 jobs. According to “Agenda 2010,” Steinberg’s bill would create 7,500 jobs.

He made no such claim at the February 2 press conference.

If Steinberg is familiar with his bill, Sen. Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, should be able to recite his in his sleep. This year’s SBX1 2 is last year’s SB 722 and 2009’s SB 14.

The measure — or measures — would require that 33 percent of the electricity California uses come from renewable sources by 2020. Simitian’s SB 14 was vetoed. His SB 722, which was also part of “Agenda 2010” and was predicted to create 20,000 jobs, failed to get out of the Senate on the last night of session.

Skinner knows the issue her bill in the package addresses but, unlike the other three, it hasn’t been introduced before.

It didn’t need to be.

Legislation passed in 2010 created the Property Assessed Clean Energy program, a financing mechanism through which homeowners and businesses could place an added assessment on their property to pay for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements on their property.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn’t want to shoulder the additional liens in case of foreclosure and disallowed the program.

Skinner is trying to use a financing authority within the State treasurer’s office to take $50 million already set aside for the program axed by the federal government and use it ton protect lenders against possible default

That would allow lenders to lower the borrowing costs to property owners, Skinner hopes.

None of the bills have been scheduled for hearings.


1 Comment »

  1. The package isn’t really inspiring in light of GJB we must fix the budget mantra. These 3/4 proposals are free??? Looks like business as usual to me…

    Comment by DPH — 2.02.2011 @ 6:13 pm

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