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Utilities support green measure

Burbank Water and Power is on track to meet new energy standards proposed in bill, managers say.

April 22, 2009|By Zain Shauk

GLENDALE — Local utility managers voiced support Tuesday for a bill that would force them to produce a third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The proposed law would help speed the development of power plants and transmission lines in California that could cut down on greenhouse-gas emissions, the managers said.

While many of the state’s 46 utilities are not on track to meet the proposed mandate, Burbank Water and Power and Glendale Water & Power are both expected to meet the 33% goal by 2020 because they have joined with other utilities to build green energy plants in other states and transmit that power back to the Los Angeles area, managers said.

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But the proposed law would help the organizations generate and transmit renewable energy within California, they said.

The legislation would cut through a complex web of state and city commissions, special interest concerns and federal regulations, helping utilities tap into California’s rich selection of renewable energy resources and create jobs in California, rather than pay a premium to develop and transmit energy in other states, managers said.

The bill, written by Democratic Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, was approved by a legislative committee last week and will be considered Monday by a second committee en route to the Assembly floor. Krekorian said he hopes the Legislature will approve the bill by June.

“California has already been one of the world’s leaders in this area, but we need to have significant improvements in current policies if we are going to continue to reap the benefits of reliance on renewable energy, and that’s what [the bill] is about,” Krekorian said.

Green energy efforts have struggled to gain construction approval statewide, often grappling with environmental groups and municipalities over where to build power lines or locate a plant, said Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power.

The proposed law would create a state authority that would supersede all state groups and commissions. The Renewable Infrastructure Authority would hear all complaints and would oversee the development and progress of renewable energy projects, taking some responsibilities from the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission, according to Krekorian’s office.

The legislation is a break from previous attempts to increase renewable energy production in California, Davis said.

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