Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Dirty energy concerns frame push for multi-state system

The California Independent System Operator Corporation in Folsom on Thursday, December 6, 2012.
The California Independent System Operator Corporation in Folsom on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

A debate over how the western United States gets its electricity, and whether it will undercut California’s climate agenda, will play out in public today.

Some context: California’s Independent System Operator is exploring bringing the multi-state energy provider PacifiCorp into a shared regional energy market. The fact that PacifiCorp’s portfolio currently includes 24 coal-powered plants worries some environmentalists and lawmakers who fear a deal will dilute California’s ambitious renewable energy goals. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker-elect Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, outlined those concerns in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown last week.

A Brown spokesman deferred to Cal ISO. Their position is that regional cooperation would actually encourage clean energy generation by allowing California to export excess electrons from sources like solar panels and import lower-cost renewables like, say, wind from Wyoming. And they note lawmakers pushed the ISO to become a “regional organization” by passing Senate Bill 350, last year’s major climate measure requiring renewables to generate half of California’s energy by 2030.

Expect the dispute to surface during a public Cal ISO meeting today on the potential regional energy market, running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the organization’s Folsom headquarters.

FRESH TRACKS: We keep track of bills and lawmakers so you don’t have to. See more by checking out our Track the Legislature feature.

VIDEO BREAK: Cal Fire chief Ken Pimlott on the hot seat.

TURF WAR: “Crumb rubber” turf has come in for scrutiny lately as concerned parents and public health organizations have questioned whether the stuff imperils the people playing on it. A Senate bill pushing schools to consider alternatives withered in committee last month, but CalRecycle and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment are at work on a $2.85 million study, expected to be completed in 2018, of the potential health hazards (you can check out earlier studies here and here). will be talking about how they’ll proceed during a daylong meeting at 1001 I Street, starting at 10 a.m.

G.O.PICK: Three Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate will spar during a debate on former San Diego City Council member Carl DeMaio’s radio show from 5 to 6 p.m. (you can watch here). Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside, and former California Republican Party chairmen Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim all trail their Democratic rivals, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Orange, in polls, although one California politics expert is so convinced we’ll get a Republican in the general election he’s promised to honor a Democrat-on-Democrat race with public nudity.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert