SB 345: Environmental Justice

The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee passed Senator Becker’s SB 345 to make it easier for low-income and disadvantaged communities to gain access energy efficiency and distributed energy programs. Watch Senator Becker's presentation of SB 345.

The California Public Utilities Commission oversees spending of almost $1 billion annually in public purpose charges that are included in utility bills for a variety of distributed energy resources – programs that promote energy efficiency, distributed solar, energy storage, electric vehicles and demand response technologies. But access to such programs for low-income and disadvantaged communities consistently lags behind because in deciding which projects to fund, the CPUC typically uses a cost-effectiveness test that considers only the benefits to the grid.

“The commission usually does not consider nonenergy benefits, like lower bills or improved air quality, which directly impact quality of life for participants and their community,” said Senator Becker. “We should be optimizing the use of these public purpose funds to maximize the total benefits and try to help communities with the least ability to make the transition to cleaner energy on their own.”

His SB 345 would allow nonenergy benefits to be considered along with cost effectiveness in funding decisions. With the Energy Committee’s vote, SB 345 now goes to the Senate Appropriations for fiscal review.