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AB-961 Energy programs and projects: nonenergy benefits.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 03/25/2019 09:00 PM
AB961:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 25, 2019

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 961


Introduced by Assembly Member Reyes

February 21, 2019


An act to add Section 383 to the Public Utilities Code, relating to energy.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 961, as amended, Reyes. Energy programs and projects: nonenergy benefits.
Under existing law, the Public Utilities Commission has regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations and gas corporations. Pursuant to existing law, the commission supervises various energy efficiency, renewable energy resource, self- and distributed-generation, and demand response programs.
This bill would require the commission to (1) establish common definitions of nonenergy benefits and attempt to determine consistent values for use in all energy clean energy and energy efficiency programs, (2) meaningfully consider and prioritize producing nonenergy benefits in clean energy and energy efficiency programs and projects, (3) give preference to producing nonenergy benefits in clean energy and energy efficiency programs and projects in low-income and disadvantaged environmental and social justice communities, as defined, and (4) track and the nonenergy benefits produced in energy clean energy and energy efficiency programs and report those benefits during program evaluations.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Unrecognized nonenergy benefits in cost-effectiveness tests employed by the Public Utilities Commission devalue important community benefits of energy clean energy and energy efficiency projects and discourage beneficial investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities. environmental and social justice communities.
(b) Nonenergy benefits represent the array of diverse impacts of energy programs and projects beyond the generation, conservation, and transportation of energy. Nonenergy benefits include local job creation, economic development, increased property values, educational opportunities, improved public health, improved air quality, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, lowered customer energy costs, increased reliable and safe access to energy services, avoided homelessness, improved fire safety, expanded ownership of assets, access to new technologies, and a sense of community pride. exist in three overarching categories: participant nonenergy benefits, utility nonenergy benefits, and societal nonenergy benefits.
(c) Participant nonenergy benefits accrue to the program participants, including, but not limited to, reduced building or home operating costs, lower energy burden, increased property value, improved health, safety, and comfort, educational opportunities, increased energy reliability and household resilience, asset ownership, and beneficial fuel switching.
(d) Utility nonenergy benefits accrue as indirect costs or savings to the utility, including, but not limited to, bill payment improvements and reduced arrearages, reduced bad debt, infrastructure savings, improved fire safety, system resilience, and increased reliability for customers.
(e) Societal nonenergy benefits represent indirect program effects beyond those realized by ratepayers, the utility, or participants, and they accrue to society at large, including, but not limited to, quality local job creation, economic development, growth of tax receipts, increased community resilience, increased labor productivity, lower energy costs, increased property values, neighborhood stability, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, improved air quality and other environmental benefits, avoided short- and long-term displacement, improved fire safety, development of and access to new technologies, improved public health and reduced health care costs, meaningful community engagement, community pride, ratepayer satisfaction through thoughtful equity and inclusion, reduced water use, and reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

(c)

(f) Prioritizing nonenergy benefits produces greater benefits to all ratepayers by increasing the societal benefits produced by public funds. Recognizing, tracking, and promoting these benefits supports investments essential to California’s transition to a clean energy economy.

SEC. 2.

 Section 383 is added to the Public Utilities Code, to read:

383.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings: “environmental and social justice communities” means communities identified as disadvantaged communities pursuant to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code, tribal lands, census tracts or equivalent geographic areas defined by the United States Census Bureau in which median household incomes are below 80 percent of area median income, and households with median household income less than 80 percent of area median income.

(1)“Disadvantanged community” means a community identified as a disadvantaged community pursuant to Section 39711 of the Health and Safety Code.

(2)“Low-income community” means a community within a census tract or equivalent geographic area defined by the United States Census Bureau in which median household incomes are at or below either of the following levels:

(A)Eighty percent of the statewide median income.

(B)The applicable low-income threshold listed in the state income limits updated by the Department of Housing and Community Development and filed with the Office of Administrative Law pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code.

(b) The commission shall do all of the following:
(1) Establish common definitions of nonenergy benefits and attempt to determine consistent values for use in all energy clean energy and energy efficiency programs.
(2) Meaningfully consider and prioritize producing nonenergy benefits in clean energy and energy efficiency programs and projects.
(3) Give preference to producing nonenergy benefits in clean energy and energy efficiency programs and projects in low-income and disadvantaged environmental and social justice communities.
(4) Track those benefits the nonenergy benefits produced in energy clean energy and energy efficiency programs during program evaluations.