In late April, a large coalition of environmental groups, farming interests and municipal utilities co-signed and sent a letter to members of the Legislature in opposition to AB 2255, a measure that is sponsored by NextEra Energy, that promotes the development of more long-duration energy storage in California.
The Sierra Club California joined the Agricultural Energy Consumers Association and the California Municipal Utilities Association, along with several dozen other groups, to argue that AB 2255 is the third attempt in as many years to boost a contested hydropower proposal near Joshua Tree National Park that would hurt the environment and ratepayers.
In their letter to the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), and in addition to several other letters sent over the past few weeks, the groups argued that a “one-off legislative fiat” is not needed to meet California’s clean-energy goals, especially when State regulators recently included pumped-storage hydropower in their long-term planning process. In addition, they claimed that the bill would only particularly benefit NextEra Energy’s Eagle Mountain venture, which they have long argued would draw too much water from protected aquifers and hurt nearby wildlife.
The groups repeated objections similar to those against last year’s bill, SB 772, which failed on the Senate floor, including the idea that Eagle Mountain would be funded by all California ratepayers via a charge through the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). The groups further argued that utilities would not be able to exempt themselves from this process and invoked the possibility of federal intervention in California energy policy.
Eggman’s office told the press that the bill is a technology-neutral study of energy storage, rather than specific support for the NextEra project. AB 2255 draft language that circulated in late April said that the governor would ultimately decide whether the CAISO should solicit this type of storage. It’s not clear if this is final language, as the bill is officially not including this language yet. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Environmental Committee for hearing, but the hearing has not yet been set.