California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a significant decision-making period as he considers more than 800 energy bills that passed through the state’s legislative session. These bills cover a range of energy-related topics, including offshore wind, solar installations along highways, grid modernization, and addressing orphaned oil wells.
One notable bill, Assembly Bill 1373, aims to facilitate the development of offshore wind projects near Morro Bay and Humboldt County. The legislation also includes provisions for long-duration battery storage and new geothermal power plants. By 2045, California aims to derive 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources, and offshore wind is expected to contribute 25,000 megawatts towards this goal.
To support private developers, AB 1373 allows the California Department of Water Resources to purchase energy from expensive projects and sell it to utilities. Additionally, the bill allocates funds for monitoring the impacts of offshore wind projects. Although there has been controversy surrounding a proposed pumped hydroelectric storage project at San Vicente Reservoir, it is unlikely that Newsom will veto the bill.
Another bill, Senate Bill 49, requires the California Department of Transportation to develop a plan for installing solar panels along the state’s highways. The panels would be leased to utility companies or private developers, potentially unlocking a significant amount of solar capacity and contributing to clean energy jobs.
Senate Bill 619 aims to modernize California’s aging power grid by streamlining the regulatory process for certifying transmission projects. This bill has received support from various stakeholders and sailed through the legislature without opposition.
Finally, Assembly Bill 1167 addresses the issue of orphaned oil wells in the state. These wells, which currently lack viable owners or operators, pose environmental and public health risks. AB 1167 requires full bonding for plugging and remediating these wells when transfers of ownership occur. While critics argue that the state already has measures in place, the bill’s sponsor emphasizes the importance of preventing further contamination.
As Newsom considers these bills, he must weigh their potential impacts on the state’s energy goals, economy, and environment.
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