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SB-370 Energy: solar storms.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 09/08/2017 09:00 PM
SB370:v96#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  September 08, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  May 02, 2017
Amended  IN  Senate  March 27, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill No. 370


Introduced by Senator Hertzberg
(Coauthors: Senators Bradford and Stern)(Coauthors: Assembly Members Dababneh and Mathis)

February 14, 2017


An act to amend Section 25303 of the Public Resources Code, and to amend Section 381.2 of the Public Utilities Code, relating to energy efficiency. relating to energy.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 370, as amended, Hertzberg. Energy efficiency. Energy: solar storms.
Existing law provides for the establishment of an Independent System Operator (ISO) as a nonprofit public benefit corporation. Existing law requires the ISO, in order to ensure the reliability of electric service and the health and safety of the public, to manage the transmission grid and related energy markets in a manner that is consistent with specified goals, including making the most efficient use of available energy resources and maximizing availability of existing electric generation resources necessary to meet the needs of the state’s electricity consumers. Existing law requires the ISO to, among other things, consult and coordinate with appropriate state and local agencies to ensure that it operates in furtherance of state law regarding consumer and environmental protection.
This bill would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that will protect California ratepayers, businesses, and infrastructure from a catastrophe such as the Carrington Storm and would make various findings and declarations relating to the Carrington storm, solar storms, and energy.

(1)Existing law requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission) to develop and implement a comprehensive program to achieve greater energy savings in existing residential and nonresidential building stock. Existing law requires the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to investigate the ability of electrical corporations and gas corporations to provide various energy efficiency financing options to their customers for the purposes of implementing the program developed by the Energy Commission. Existing law requires the PUC, by September 1, 2016, to authorize electrical corporations and gas corporations to provide financial incentives, rebates, technical assistance, and support to their customers to increase the energy efficiency of existing buildings, as specified.

This bill would require the PUC to authorize electrical corporations and gas corporations to also provide those services to their customers to increase the energy efficiency of existing processes, systems, and equipment. The bill would require the PUC, on or before September 1, 2018, to authorize electrical corporations and gas corporations to also provide those services to their customers to increase the energy efficiency of industrial and agricultural facilities, systems, and equipment, as specified.

(2)Decisions of the PUC require electrical and gas corporations to estimate the energy savings derived from energy efficiency projects and submit those estimates to the PUC for review and approval. The PUC’s review and approval process is known as ex ante review.

This bill would prohibit the PUC from reviewing the energy savings of specified energy efficiency projects for which the PUC has authorized electrical corporations or gas corporations to provide financial incentives, rebates, technical assistance, or support, except as provided.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YESNO   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) It is the fundamental role of government to ensure public safety and protect public investments. Modern and effective governance anticipates and defends against natural and man-made threats, including earthquakes, terrorist attacks, floods, and cybersecurity.
(b) Years ago, a large burst of energy from the sun called the “Carrington Storm” struck Earth, destroying telegraph systems across Europe and North America. Telegraph operators received electric shocks and telegraph pylons sparked and failed.
(c) Because society in the late 19th century did not depend on electricity, economic consequences were small.
(d) However, the solar weather that caused these effects was not a one-off. The sun emits the same kind of energy bursts, known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs, every day. Just like regular weather, this “solar weather” is usually mild. But roughly once every 150 years, a very strong CME from the sun, like the Carrington Storm, strikes Earth.
(e) Today, Californian society depends on a continual supply of electricity for virtually all of its most basic functions: the delivery of food and water, internet and cellular communications, the provision of basic government services, and more. If a Carrington-level storm were to strike California today, as one very nearly did in the summer of 2012, the damage would be catastrophic.
(f) Water would stop running, food would stop arriving at the supermarket, telephone lines and traffic lights would fail, and the blackout could last months. Businesses would shut down and cities like Los Angeles would run out of food in a matter of days.
(g) The impact of a Carrington-level storm would be much worse than the largest hurricane or earthquake because hurricanes are localized, transitory, and only damage surface infrastructure which can be rapidly repaired. By contrast, solar storms threaten to permanently incapacitate vital parts of the electrical grid, replacements for which would take months to arrive.
(h) The congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, which studies the effects of a sustained nationwide blackout, predicted that this loss of electrical power could lead to millions of deaths. Additionally, the National Academy of Sciences predicted a nationwide economic cost of two trillion dollars would result from a Carrington-level storm.
(i) Experts agree that this threat is a matter of “when,” not “if.” The National Aeronautics and Space Administration predicts approximately a one-in-eight chance of a Carrington-level storm striking Earth within the next decade. The cost of doing nothing in the face of this looming threat would be colossal. Thankfully, solving this problem is technologically and financially feasible.
(j) Yet over the past 10 years, gridlock and partisanship in Washington have stalled national action on this issue. And while Washington repeatedly fails to protect the American people from this threat, the inevitable next solar storm draws ever closer.
(k) Washington’s inability to act has shifted responsibility to the states. Some states, such as Maine and Virginia, have taken up this mantle and acted to harden their electrical grids against the solar threat. California has the opportunity to do the same, and in doing so, to lead the country and the world yet again in adopting prudent and sensible solutions to create a better society for our residents.
(l) California’s innovation and technology leads the world. It is time the state take common sense precautions to protect its people, its business community, and the very fabric of its advanced electrical society from potential disaster.

SEC. 2.

 It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would protect California ratepayers, businesses, and infrastructure from a catastrophe such as the Carrington Storm.