California Legislature Ends Session Without Voting on Geothermal Bill, Tesla Deal
California lawmakers ended their session Saturday without voting on SB 1139, a bill that would require utilities to purchase a percentage of their power from geothermal sources in the state’s high desert.
Opposition to the bill was strong from both traditional utilities and renewable energy companies. Utilities felt that requiring the purchase put a burden on its customers, while renewable energy companies felt that it created an unequal playing field for renewables since it set aside a large portion of the market only for geothermal.
CEO of Independent Energy Producers Association Jan-Smutney Jones, who lobbied against the bill, believed that the required purchase of 500 MW from geothermal sources wasn’t fair.
"Once the legislature gets involved in slicing up the pie, then everybody else shows up and says, 'Where's my piece,'" he told U-T San Diego.
The bill was hoping to jumpstart geothermal development out in the Salton Sea—part of Southern California’s Imperial County.
Estimates from San Diego Gas & Electric put the cost to consumers at around $450 million per year if the bill were to pass.
One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Senator Ben Hueso, is expected to introduce another version of the bill next year.
“As we moved through the process, Sen. Hueso realized that this bill needed to be more comprehensive to include existing geothermal and other baseload resources,” Hueso spokesperson Lourdes Jimenez said in a statement. “To do this, the bill needed to be developed further and the legislative process simply did not give him the time to enrich this bill as needed.”
Imperial Irrigation District General Manager Kevin Kelley expressed his disappointment in the failure of the bill, but was still grateful to the attention called to the valley’s resources. Kelley told The Desert Sun that he’s in for the long game.
“This was always going to be a marathon, and while it would have been a quick jumpstart to have had 500 megawatts of new procurement, the environmental problem—the environmental dilemma at the Salton Sea—is unchanged,” he said. “And the greenhouse gas reductions—the aggressive air quality standards that the state of California has set for itself—pretty much demand that this important baseload energy be brought back into the renewable portfolio mix.”
This was not the only discussion tabled regarding the Salton Sea. Lawmakers ended their session without coming up with any incentives for Tesla to build its Gigafactory in the area. While the door is not completely closed on the $5 billion project coming to California, it’s shutting quickly. Tesla is looking at five states total— Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, or Texas—as the factory’s future site. The company is reportedly looking for $500 million in incentives and an expedited environmental assessment.
Negotiations between Tesla and the Governor’s office reportedly continued into the weekend, but nothing has yet to emerge.
“They were sending a variety of different messages,” Roseville Senator Ted Gaines said. “Depending on what day you listened to what Tesla was saying, they were saying they’d like to get a deal done as soon as possible, or in six months, or by year’s end. I don’t think there are too many states in the nation that can put together such a good package, because it is a tall order.”
Mike Rossi, a senior advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, said in a statement that “the Administration continues to engage in productive conversations with Tesla and remains optimistic that we can reach an agreement that meets our common goal of adding jobs in California.”
The Gigafactory is expected to bring more than 6,500 jobs to the region.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.