There is just one reason lawmakers try to push through rewritten bills in the final days of the California Legislature’s session each and every September: It’s because they know the more scrutiny the proposals get, the less chance they have of passage. That’s a contemptible, undemocratic rationale.
Now — with Friday’s legislative deadline looming — the latest pathetic ploy is on display in Sacramento. Two bills from Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, chair of the Assembly Utility and Energy Committee, have been drastically overhauled to revive a plan backed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 that could eventually expand California’s power grid into a regional network with five Western states.
The push for larger, interconnected power grids builds off the idea that such an approach would be cheaper, more stable and more reliable in times of crisis. But if a regional grid is a good idea, then the Legislature should hold hearings and present information that show this to be true, not ram a measure through on short notice.
Consider these questions:
— How would a regional grid fit in with California’s ambitious plan to switch to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 (or proposal to be at 100 percent by 2045) and why partner with dirtier states at all?
— How would a regional grid incorporate promising community choice aggregation programs in which local governments using locally generated power act as their own utilities?
— Would a multistate grid be more vulnerable to price manipulation by energy providers, as San Diego consumer attorney Michael Aguirre warns?
— Is it risky for California to give up control of its own grid when a multistate grid is subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission? The commission is well on its way to being run by appointees of President Donald Trump, who will never attack climate change like California does.
Until these questions are answered in satisfying fashion, Holden’s bills are grossly premature.