September 15, 2017
As the legislative session wound to an end on Friday, California legislators in the past few days have passed a litany of bills regarding energy storage, wastewater handling and abandoned oil and natural gas wells.
Among the bundle of bills, Senate Bill (SB) 801 would direct the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to de-emphasize natural gas-fired power generation and increase reliance on renewable fuels.
State Sen. Henry Stern, who sponsored SB 801, said natural gas storage is no longer needed at the Aliso Canyon field operated by Southern California Gas. Co. He is urging more development of alternative forms of storage, such as electric demand response.
Under SB 801, LADWP would be required to maximize energy efficiency, renewable energy and conservation. The state’s utilities each would be required to develop up to 100 MW of alternative energy storage.
The legislature also passed Assembly Bill (AB) 1328 to allow the state and regional water quality control boards, while investigating an oilfield discharge, to demand from operators information on chemicals in the wastewater. Water agencies also could require chemical suppliers to provide information. The wastewater bill, backed by the oil and gas industry, is not expected to significantly alter operations.
California oil and gas producers already are required to report chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing, but the state does not track chemical use in other extraction methods. Many of the same chemicals that are used in fracturing are also used in other activities, a bill analysis noted.
California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA) chief Rock Zierman said if an oil operation produces water discharge, drillers are required to get permits and disclose the chemicals.
SB 724 would authorize the Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to spend up to $3 million over four years to plug hazardous/abandoned wells and hazardous/abandoned production facilities. DOGGR also would be authorized to decommission a facility. CIPA supported the bill.
Another measure passed, AB 1649, would require the California Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate activities of state and local agencies that regulate oil refineries and other facilities. The California Environmental Protection Agency would be required to hold at least two public meetings annually to provide information on refinery safety.
Another measure sponsored by Stern, SB 57, was delayed until the next legislative session. It seeks to continue a moratorium on new gas injections at Aliso until a review determines the cause of the leak.
More ambitious climate change-related legislation was not expected to pass before Friday’s deadline. SB 100 would phase out fossil fuels for generating electricity within 30 years. AB 726 and 813 would lay the groundwork for a regional electricity grid to make it easier to share renewable energy among western states, a goal of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), who chairs the Utilities and Energy Committee and who authored the grid plan, told the Los Angeles Timesthat the proposals would not advance this year.
“There’s not a lot of time for the engagement we need to make it work,” he said. The energy proposals are expected to be considered as part of a “comprehensive conversation” next year.