Utilities oppose pending laws

CITY HALL — The governor’s expected veto of pending legislation that would force utilities to use in-state resources to cut emissions 33% by 2020 would not only give officials pause for relief, but ratepayers as well, according to a report Monday to the Glendale Water & Power Commission.

State legislators recently approved a pair of bills that would require renewable energy — such as solar, wind and geothermal energy — to make up a third of a city’s power portfolio by 2020. But the bills would not count out-of-state resources toward meeting that requirement, frustrating utilities like those in Glendale and Burbank that have tied their renewable energy procurements to outside projects.

“It would be detrimental,” Glendale Water & Power General Manager Glenn Steiger said.

Glendale Water & Power officials do not oppose the 33% benchmark, which the utility has already pledged to meet, but last week it joined more than 60 utilities across California in opposing the in-state requirement proposed in the legislation.

While the requirement was intended to spur job growth in the state, utility officials argue it would be disastrous for operations and could lead to potentially staggering rate increases for customers.

Glendale Water & Power legislative analyst Lana Haddad predicted a consumer rate increase of at least 30% if the legislation were to be signed into law.

“We were looking at tremendous limitations and restrictions on the acquisitions of renewable power from out of state,” she said.

But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to hand down a veto and instead issue an executive order mandating the 33% benchmark without the unpopular in-state requirement.

Glendale Water & Power gets about 23% of its energy from renewable sources, but the out-of-state contracts, including two approved last month, would not be counted under the legislation. And a power contract for a small hydropower project based in Washington that the City Council will consider tonight would also be exempt.

“The executive order allows us to utilize methods that would be consistent for acquiring our renewables in a cost-effective manner,” Haddad said.

But even with the expected veto, some commissioners Monday expressed concern that Glendale Water & Power might still find itself in a future bind.

“Once the governor leaves office, the next governor can modify that order,” commission Chairman Patrick Foley said.


 MELANIE HICKEN covers City Hall. She may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at melanie.hicken@latimes.com.

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