SACRAMENTO–This weekend, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 50 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), legislation that will hold utilities accountable for providing Californians with timely and reliable power connections.
“I began this journey into the causes of power connection delays after hearing about an alarming number of residential and commercial projects in my district that were ready to turn on the lights only to be told they’d have to wait, not just days but months and even years longer to actually get electricity," said Wood. "These customers thought they had received a promise – a “will serve” letter” – from the utility that they would be ready, but we soon discovered it wasn’t just in the district I represent; it was happening statewide.”
California is pursuing unprecedented climate change goals which is driving the need to overhaul the way power is produced and used in order to reduce emissions in an energy transition that will require a third more electricity over the next decade.
“If our electric corporations can’t meet our power demands, it will be impossible to achieve our critical climate, housing and economic development goals,” said Wood.
AB 50 holds utilities accountable by ensuring customers have a right to timely service connections. The bill requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), through a public regulatory process, to determine energization timelines for electric utilities and, in the meantime, AB 50 will ensure customers won’t be waiting months or years for power by enforcing reasonable deadlines for energizing. This bill also requires utilities to consistently evaluate and improve their internal planning processes and communicate consistently with local governments about capacity constraints and delays in energization.
“Local governments working hard to meet housing goals are learning that despite their approving development plans, they are finding out that the electrical capacity is not there, and this information has been lacking through no fault of their own,” said Wood. “Decades ago, these will serve letters may have been adequate, but today they mean nothing more than will serve eventually, and that doesn’t work for California and it doesn’t work for me. This new law should result in significant improvements in customer communications and help local governments in their development planning process.”
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