California has grown accustomed to setting benchmark after benchmark on environmental policies, but ambitious efforts to spread renewable energy around the state and the region could grind to a halt this week.
One proposal, Senate Bill 100 from Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would phase out fossil fuels for generating electricity within three decades. The other, Assembly Bills 762 and 813, would lay the groundwork for a regional electricity grid that could make it easier to share renewable energy among western states, a goal of Gov. Jerry Brown.
But champions of both efforts have struggled to overcome disagreements among unions, utilities, environmentalists, energy companies and lawmakers in the final days of the legislative session. Attempts to broker compromises between competing interests have repeatedly fallen short, and divisions have grown increasingly bitter.
In one particularly fraught episode, unions representing electrical and utility workers accused De León of abandoning a promise to help protect their jobs, while the senator’s office denies that any pledge was made.
Although some advocates have refused to give up hope on pushing for more clean energy, prospects for any deals grew dimmer Tuesday night, the deadline for making changes to any legislation scheduled for a vote before the session ends Friday evening. No amendments to the bills were filed.
On Wednesday, Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) told The Times that none of the proposals would advance this year. As chairman of the Assembly utilities and energy committee, he’s a key gatekeeper for De León’s proposal, and he authored the legislation containing Brown’s grid plan.
“There’s not a lot of time for the engagement we need to make it work,” he said, adding that energy proposals should be considered as part of a “comprehensive conversation” next year.