With COVID-19 stalling most energy matters not related to PG&E, the NextEra backed effort to promote pumped storage in California got new life last week following the “gut and amend” of AB 1720  by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles). The new bill would direct the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) to buy pumped storage electricity from the NextEra proposed project.

As proposed, AB 1720 would fast-track the pumped-storage project through the CEQA process, specifically invoking that venture in an effort to start construction. Additionally, if the CPUC does not by March 2021 say whether it’ll order the in-State utilities to buy an unspecified amount of storage capacity, the bill would have CDWR procure those resources.

The legislation is supported by the State Building and Construction Trade Council of California, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and the Long Duration Energy Storage Association of California.

The NextEra project has not yet secured state and federal approvals.

AB 1720 contains language from the previous legislation that stalled earlier this year that also promoted pumped storage, SB 597 (Hueso) and AB 2255 (Eggman). AB 1720 is currently on the Senate floor, but the bill will likely be referred to a policy committee for further review.

 July 31 is the last day for policy committees to report fiscal bills to appropriations committees, and this bill is in that category because of the electricity purchases that would be made by CDWR.