Connect with us

California

Can this California bill help get neighborhoods off gas?

Published

on

Can this California bill help get neighborhoods off gas?


SB 1221 would change that, at least for the 30 pilot projects it would authorize utilities to undertake. Instead of unanimous consent among all customers in a zone, it would require a supermajority — 67 percent — to agree, Velez said. Then the utility could move forward.” 

To be clear, any project must prove that it’s cost-effective for all participating customers, Velez said. But the effort to redefine obligation to serve” requirements to allow alternatives besides gas delivery has struck a nerve among gas utilities and workers. 

A previous version of SB 1221 initially included language that would have allowed gas utilities to cease providing service if adequate substitute energy service is reasonably available” to support customers, for instance. But Southern California Gas, the state’s biggest all-gas utility, and labor unions representing utility workers opposed that provision, and it was stripped from the current version of the bill. 

California isn’t the only state grappling with this issue. In New York, the NY HEAT Act, a bill that would replace gas utilities’ obligation to serve” gas to households with an energy-neutral obligation to provide heating, cooling, cooking, and hot-water services — a step opposed by gas utilities and labor groups — failed for the third time in as many years to pass in the final hours of the state legislative session last week. In Illinois, unions are pushing state lawmakers to slow down on policies aimed at phasing out gas pipeline expansions. 

Advertisement

Jose Torres, California director at the Building Decarbonization Coalition, emphasized that any pilot project authorized by SB 1221 must prove that it’s cost effective for both the participating customers and a utility’s customers at large. 

How do you allow utilities and communities to make fuel-neutral decisions that benefit the majority of Californians? That’s the spirit of this bill — to move us forward in that conversation and take on those complicated issues,” Torres said. 

Threading the needle of climate, customer choice, and cost-effectiveness

At the same time, pressure is building on policymakers, regulators, and utilities to find an alternative to continuing to invest in the country’s gas delivery network. A 2021 report from consultancy Brattle Group stated that existing plans to revamp pipelines could saddle U.S. gas utilities with $150 billion to $180 billion in​“unrecovered” investment over the coming decade.

California spends nearly $14 billion per year on buying and using fossil gas and building and maintaining a gas delivery network that connects to nearly four-fifths of all homes, according to a 2020 analysis presented to the California Energy Commission by consulting firm Energy and Environmental Economics. A decarbonization strategy that relies on electrifying California’s buildings to get them off gas could cost between $5 billion and $20 billion per year less by 2050 than an alternative approach of using biogas, hydrogen, or synthetic gas to replace fossil gas, the analysis found. 

Every year that gas utilities keep replacing pipelines represents a year of potential electrification savings lost, said Mike Bloomberg, managing partner at Groundwork Data. The nonprofit consultancy has issued a set of reports with the Building Decarbonization Coalition on the challenge of decarbonizing gas utilities in New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

Advertisement

The gas transition is not going to happen overnight,” Bloomberg said. But neither will it proceed rapidly enough to avoid excessive costs for gas utility customers or the worst impacts of climate change if utilities and regulators don’t find a way to deal with the disconnect between how gas infrastructure is paid off today — spread out across all customers and over decades — and the costs of electrification, which are now borne almost entirely by individual customers. 

SB 1221 would task the CPUC with coming up with the details of how the state’s gas utilities will carry out the 30 zonal electrification pilot projects, the NRDC’s Velez said. One potential problem with the current legislative language is that it would not allow gas utilities to collect the costs of installing new electrical appliances or doing other necessary work in customers’ homes and buildings from their customer base at large over the same decades-long timeframe as they’re allowed to do with gas pipeline investments, which Velez worries could discourage utilities from participating. 

At the same time, SB 1221 does require every utility in the state to develop maps of their planned longer-term pipeline replacement needs, along with equity data to help state agencies and municipal and local leaders find pilot projects in lower-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, Velez said. That’s important, because it can take years of planning ahead for cities, community groups, and neighborhoods to prepare for making the switch to all-electric heating and appliances at a pace that matches a utility’s pipeline replacement schedule. 

That planning ahead is essential, said Neha Bazaj, a director at Gridworks, a nonprofit consultancy that advises regulators and communities on how to carry out complicated energy transition projects. Last year, Gridworks began working with municipal and community groups involved in a California Energy Commission grant-funded project examining the potential for zonal electrification in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Albany. 

One of the key findings, Bazaj said, is that California gas utilities’ current three-year planning horizon for gas pipeline replacements is still not a lot of time to get buy-in” from individual customers and community representatives that need to be involved. That’s a problem, because lack of community engagement and agreement can make or break these projects. 

Advertisement

Obviously the obligation to serve is a challenge to implementing these projects at scale,” she said. It is likely unrealistic to anticipate 100 percent buy-in from everyone.” Even so, the goal should be to have as much buy-in from people as possible.”



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

California

Investigating California’s Mental Health Courts

Published

on

Investigating California’s Mental Health Courts


Investigating California’s Mental Health Courts – CBS Sacramento

Watch CBS News


Amid concerns that some felony defendants could be misusing California’s Mental Health Diversion Court to have their violent crimes dismissed, a CBS News California investigation found that there is no reliable data to indicate how successful the state program is.

Advertisement

Be the first to know

Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.




Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

California

California’s top wages only buy 61% of typical home

Published

on

California’s top wages only buy 61% of typical home


“How expensive?” tracks measurements of California’s totally unaffordable housing market.

The pain: Even California workers making more than 75% of all jobs will struggle to buy a home.

The source: My trusty spreadsheet created an “affordability” index comparing the 75th percentile income in 50 states as of May 2023 – that’s the median of the upper half of all annual wages – from the Bureau of Labor Statistics against the median home value, as tracked by Zillow.

Advertisement

The pinch

In a state where roughly half of all households own their home, it’s not hard to see why the 75th percentile pay is typical for house hunters.

In California this annual pay ranks third-highest in the nation at $93,250 versus $70,035 nationally. That’s 33% higher.

Tops for upper-crust paychecks was Massachusetts at $98,110, then Washington at $95,180. Lows? Mississippi at $55,870, Arkansas at $58,900, and South Dakota at $59,980. California rivals Texas was No. 22 at $72,640 and Florida was No. 30 at $67,600.

Then ponder pricing, California’s bane.

The typical statewide residence was No. 2 costliest in the US last year at $753,800 versus $325,750 nationally. That’s 131% higher. Yes, more than double.

Advertisement

Top home prices were in Hawaii at $848,700. No 3. was Massachusetts at $586,600. Lows? West Virginia at $157,400, Mississippi at $177,100, and Kentucky at $200,300. Texas was No. 29 at $305,600. Florida was No. 17 at $390,800.

The point of pain

Now, think about who can afford to buy a home.

Imagine the buying power of a 7% mortgage for a borrower devoting 40% of those 75th percentage wages to the house payment.

In California, these wages buy you 61% of the typical residence. That ranks next-to-last and well below the 110% nationally.

Only Hawaii was worse at 45%. No. 3 was Utah at 69%. Tops was West Virginia at 193%, Ohio at 165%, and Illinois and Mississippi at 157%.

Advertisement

And Texas was No. 20 at 118% and Florida was No. 38 at 86%.

Jonathan Lansner is business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com



Source link

Continue Reading

California

A kite surfer stranded on a remote California beach was rescued after he used rocks to spell 'HELP' on the sand

Published

on

A kite surfer stranded on a remote California beach was rescued after he used rocks to spell 'HELP' on the sand


A kite surfer stranded on a narrow beach in California found a novel way to call for aid.

Surrounded by tall cliffs and a rising tide on the beach south of Davenport Landing, he laid out rocks on the sand to spell out a large “HELP,” per an X post by the Santa Cruz unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Sunday.

A private helicopter spotted the sign and alerted the authorities.

A rescue helicopter was later dispatched to the location and airlifted the kite surfer out, according to the video posted by the department.

Advertisement

The kite surfer started from Davenport Landing Beach but was swept down the coastline, where he was stranded, NBC Bay Area reported.

“It is an extremely beautiful place to work and live,” Cal Fire Capt. Skylar Merritt told NBC Bay Area. “That being said, it can lull people into a false sense of security around those cliffs. Those beaches are notorious for strong winds, rip tides, and cold water.”

A similar rescue operation happened in April when the US military rescued three mariners stranded on a Pacific island for more than a week.

They used palm leaves to write “HELP” on the beach in Pikelot Atoll, a small island part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Advertisement

They were spotted by a US reconnaissance aircraft and rescued on April 9.

Cal Fire did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular working hours.



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending