Morrell Measure to Keep Energy Costs Low and Transparent Approved by First Committee

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SACRAMENTO – By a bipartisan vote today, the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee approved Senate Bill 728 by Senator Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, to require the California Public Utilities Commission to evaluate the economic impact of increasing the standards for renewable energy procurement. 

“While those living along the coast seem to think the recession is over, that is not the reality for millions of Californians,” said Morrell. “New energy costs would take even more money away from low and middle income families who already pay the highest state sales tax rate in the country and one of the highest gas taxes. Before expanding the scope of the state’s environmental regulations, SB 728 would open the books and publicly disclose what consumers can expect to pay for electricity.”

Under current law, the California Public Utilities Commission has authority to raise the Renewables Portfolio Standard, which requires utility retailers to obtain a minimum level of energy supplies from resources considered renewable including wind, solar, and geothermal. At 33 percent, California has one of the highest standards in the nation. A 2013 study by the Pacific Research Institute found that power rates will increase by 13 percent by 2020 due to this mandate.

Recent numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Los Angeles area households already pay 58.1 percent more for electricity than the rest of the country. California also has the highest poverty rate in the country at 23.4 percent and an unemployment rate of 6.5 percent that lags behind the national economic recovery.

As well as directing the California Public Utilities Commission to assess the statewide economic impact of its potentially increasing renewable energy standards, SB 728 would require full disclosure of the findings by:

  • Directing the commission to hold workshops throughout the state; and
  • Allowing 60 days for public comment and feedback.

“SB 728 simply requires the Public Utilities Commission to take into consideration the economic toll on Californians before exercising its authority to adopt higher renewable energy standards,” continued Morrell. “The bill does not prevent the commission from taking future action, but it does hold them accountable for decisions made that could further burden family finances. I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create this important safeguard.” 

SB 728 passed by a vote of 10-1.