Capitol Alert

AM Alert: California’s alternative energy arc on the agenda

Alternative energy is big business in Sacramento.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at the agenda for today’s Advanced Energy Economy summit, a convening of public officials and firms invested in clean, efficient and innovative energy sources.

Among the attendees will be billionaire kingmaker Tom Steyer, who has become a national figure for bankrolling environmental causes and candidates. He’ll be talking with Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, head of the agency implementing California’s unprecedented (and controversial) cap-and-trade program. Also listed are California Energy Commission chair Robert Weisenmiller and a roster of lawmakers that includes cap-and-trade architect Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, and incoming Senate leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles.

Lawmakers are set to discuss how California can meet its emissions-reducing goals, benchmarks that have helped prompt substantial investment in alternative energy (helped along by tax breaks and other policy incentives). An interesting twist: on the panel of legislators is Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, who has been leading the charge to amend cap-and-trade so gasoline is not included for a few more years.

VIDEO: California has recovered from the recession? Not for a list of cities still struggling to get back on their feet, Dan Walters says.

DAM IT: Underlying the push to get a new water bond on the ballot this year is the desire to see more surface storage – i.e. dams – that can equip California to endure the dry years by capturing more water. There are plenty of doubts about how effective new projects could be, but many lawmakers want them. A group of proponents, led by Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, but including a couple of Democrats, will go today on a field trip to the location of the potential Sites Reservoir (you may recall some usually antagonistic Congress members making the same voyage).

BROWN SPEAKS: The California School Employees Association conference is in Sacramento this week, and they’re getting a talk from the principal of state politics. Gov. Jerry Brown, whose school days imprinted some lasting impressions, will be addressing attendees at the Sacramento Convention Center this morning.

GIRDING THE GRID: Dogging California’s utilities infrastructure has become a mission for Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, whose district included the deadly San Bruno gas line explosion. Today Hill will preside over a hearing examining the safety of California’s electric grid, citing a spate of powerline-related deaths. Expected speakers will include representatives of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, the California Municipal Utilities Association and the California Public Utilities Commission. Starting at 9:30 a.m. in room 3191.

APPROPRIATE: With the end of session weeks away, numerous lawmakers will be trying to scale Appropriations Mountain today. Well more than 100 items sit on the Assembly Appropriations Committee agenda, a crucial hurdle before bills can make it to the floor.