California Passes Bills to Promote Clean Cars and Renewables
September 29, 2004
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a number of bills in late September that will be beneficial to hybrid-electric car owners and certain renewable energy installations.
California owners of new hybrid electric cars and recent-model low-emission vehicles will benefit from AB 2628, which allows those vehicles to use the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes normally reserved for carpools. The bill opens those lanes to low-emissions vehicles produced during the 2004 model year or earlier, as well as new low-emission hybrid-electric vehicles that achieve at least 45 miles per gallon. Meant as an incentive for people to buy hybrid vehicles, the bill also limits the total number of HOV stickers for these vehicles to 75,000 and sets procedures to avoid causing the HOV lanes to become congested. The governor signed the bill on September 23rd, but the measure will also require approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Several new laws will also help the development of renewable energy resources in the state. AB 1684 expands the state's self-generation incentive program to include projects fueled with waste gas, while SB 1565 requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to develop a strategic plan including renewable energy. The governor signed both bills on September 22nd. Governor Schwarzenegger also signed two solar energy bills on September 25th: AB 2473, strengthening an existing law that prohibits local governments from placing restrictions on solar energy systems, and AB 594, which requires Pacific Gas and Electric Company to establish a net metering agreement with the City and County of San Francisco for up to 5 megawatts of solar power. The city currently owns a 688-kilowatt solar power system at the Moscone Convention Center, and plans to install a 600-kilowatt system at a wastewater treatment plant.