GOP Vice Chairs to be key energy players in 06

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 23, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Many issues important to business tend to divide the legislature along party lines, such as taxation, corporate liability, and labor laws. Such is not the case this year for some energy policies of great importance to California manufacturers.  A Republican Governor is focused on renewable energy development and greenhouse gas reduction and many Democrats have introduced or support bills to promote the same agenda. For this reason, the ranking Republicans on the Senate and Assembly energy committees have an important role in helping to shape bi-partisan legislation this year.

With Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Carlsbad) running for Duke Cunningham’s Orange County Congressional seat, the Republican leadership has chosen Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) to be the new Vice Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

Elected to the Assembly in 1998, Cox was the Assembly Republican leader for three years and played an instrumental role in uniting his fellow Republicans against numerous proposals to raise taxes while advocating for a stronger economy and job creation.  He served as a member of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s transition team in 2003 and was elected to the Senate the following year.

The new Vice Chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee is Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), who is president of a family-owned investment firm, Blakeslee and Blakeslee.  Since his election in 2004, he has reduced his involvement in the firm due to his legislative duties.  A dedicated conservationist, Blakeslee is also pro-business and committed to helping the governor "bring good jobs back to California."

The committees will be considering bills to establish a greenhouse gas performance standard for utilities and non-utility energy service providers (effectively precluding coal resources), to create a permitting process at the CEC to rank proposed liquefied natural gas projects, to repeal existing law establishing how the CPUC determines energy prices paid to Qualified Facilities and to make changes to the CPUC-enacted California Solar Initiative.

CMTA looks forward to working with Senator Cox and Assemblyman Blakeslee and the other committee members to promote policies that benefit residential and business consumers, improve California's business climate, and increase investment in the state's energy infrastructure.  These are important issues for manufacturers: the state’s economy, and the energy-intensive manufacturing sector in particular, need abundant and affordable power in order to be strong and healthy in the future.  With regard to the numerous renewables bills this year before the Legislature, CMTA supports the goal of ensuring that the state has a diverse portfolio of energy resources.  At the same time, all generation resources, including renewables, must be developed and brought online in a cost-effective manner.  This means a rigorous examination of the cost-effectiveness of resources and a continuation of the present statutory cap on the public goods charge on electricity and natural gas sales (which funds above-market renewable energy costs and other renewable energy programs).  
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