Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act
SB 350 Overview

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On October 7, 2015, Senate Bill 350: Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act (de León, Chapter 547, Statutes of 2015) (SB 350) was signed into law, establishing new clean energy, clean air and greenhouse gas reduction goals for 2030 and beyond. SB 350 codifies Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s aggressive clean energy goals and is a key part of California’s strategy to address climate change as represented by Governor Brown’s “Climate Change Pillars.”

SB 350 is considered the most significant climate and clean energy legislation since the passage of Assembly Bill 32: California Global Warming Solutions Act (Nunez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) (AB 32) that set the statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In addition, AB 32 directed and authorized various state agencies to engage in actions necessary to achieve this goal. Building off of AB 32, SB 350 established California’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels. To achieve this goal, SB 350 sets ambitious 2030 targets for energy efficiency and renewable electricity, among other actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. SB 350 will greatly enhance the state’s ability to meet its long-term climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The full text of SB 350 is available on the California Legislature Website.

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What Does SB 350 Do?

SB 350 increases California’s renewable electricity procurement goal from 33 percent by 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. This will increase the use of Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligible resources, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and others. In addition, SB 350 requires the state to double statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end uses by 2030. To help ensure these goals are met and the greenhouse gas emission reductions are realized, large utilities will be required to develop and submit Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs). These IRPs will detail how each entity will meet their customers resource needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ramp up the deployment of clean energy resources. Other important elements of SB 350 include:

  • Transforming the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), a nonprofit public corporation, into a regional organization, contingent upon approval from the Legislature.
  • Authorizes utilities to undertake transportation electrification activities.
  • Directs state agencies to undertake various studies to identify and assess the following:
    • Barriers to, and opportunities for, solar photovoltaic energy generation as well as barriers to, and opportunities for, access to other renewable energy by low-income customers; and barriers to contracting opportunities for local small businesses in disadvantaged communities. This study will be conducted by the Energy Commission.
    • Barriers for low-income customers to energy efficiency and weatherization investments, including those in disadvantaged communities, as well as recommendations on how to increase access to energy efficiency and weatherization investments to low-income customers. This study will also be conducted by the Energy Commission.
    • Barriers for low-income customers to zero-emission and near-zero-emission transportation options, including those in disadvantaged communities, as well as recommendations on how to increase access to zero-emission and near-zero-emission transportation options to low-income customers, including those in disadvantaged communities. This study will be conducted by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), in consultation with the Energy Commission.

How Will SB 350 be Implemented?

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The Energy Commission will be working closely with other state agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the CAISO, to implement the bill. The Energy Commission will also work closely with affected utilities and electrical corporations subject to SB 350.

This includes reviewing IRPs of the 16 largest publicly owned utilities starting in 2019 to help ensure they reach the 50 percent RPS target by 2030 and meet their greenhouse gas emission reduction target, while maintaining reasonable customer rates and reliable electric service.

The CPUC, along with the CARB and Energy Commission, will support transportation electrification by directing electrical corporations to file applications for programs and investments to accelerate widespread transportation electrification. These state agencies will also review data regarding current and future charging infrastructure utilization prior to authorizing the collection of new program costs related to transportation electrification in customer rates.

The CARB must also collaborate with the CPUC to establish greenhouse gas emission targets, collaborate with the CPUC and the Energy Commission to identify and adopt appropriate policies, rules, or regulations to achieve SB 350 goals, and make recommendations on how to make zero-emission and near-zero emission transportation options accessible to low-income customers.

Requirements for the Energy Commission include:

  • Developing IRPs guidelines for large publicly owned utilities to ensure that the 50 percent RPS target is met by December 31, 2030 (guidelines should be in place no later than 2018).
  • Identifying all potentially achievable energy efficiency savings, and establish targets for statewide energy efficiency savings and demand reductions to achieve doubling of energy efficiency by January 1, 2030.
  • Implementing the increased RPS target of 50 percent by December 31, 2030 for the publicly owned utilities.
  • By January 1, 2017, prepare a study, as discussed above, identifying barriers and opportunities to clean energy resources in low income and disadvantaged communities.
  • By January 1, 2017, updating the AB 758: Existing Building Energy Efficiency Action Plan, in furtherance of achieving a cumulative doubling of statewide energy efficiency savings by 2030, and updated at least every three years thereafter.
  • Working with the CPUC and representatives from disadvantaged communities to establish an advisory group. The advisory group will review and provide advice on programs proposed to achieve clean energy and pollution reduction and determine whether those proposed programs will be effective and useful in disadvantaged communities.
  • Adopting, implementing and enforcing responsible contractor policies to ensure that retrofits meet high-quality performance standards and reduce energy savings lost or forgone due to poor-quality workmanship, and to establish consumer protection guidelines for energy efficiency products and services.
  • Working with the CPUC to establish a publicly available tracking system to provide current information on progress toward meeting the clean energy and pollution reduction goals of SB 350.

Supporting Legislation – Assembly Bill 802

Signed into law on October 8, 2015, Assembly Bill 802 (Williams, Chapter 590, Statutes of 2015) (AB 802) furthers California’s support for enhancing energy efficiency statewide by authorizing the Energy Commission to create a building energy-use benchmarking and disclosure program. In addition, AB 802 expands the Energy Commission's energy data collection authority to improve the development and evaluation of policy and programs, and the state’s energy infrastructure planning efforts. AB 802 also requires the CPUC to authorize electrical and gas corporations to provide financial incentives to their customers that increases the energy efficiency of existing buildings based on all estimated energy savings and energy usage reductions.

The full text of AB 802 is available on the California Legislature Website.