Will Little Hoover compel green-energy testimony?

Will Little Hoover compel green-energy testimony?

Little Hoover Rewiring California 2Here’s the 13,000-megawatt question to be answered in 2015:

Will the Little Hoover Commission begin issuing subpoenas in 2015 to compel Gov. Jerry Brown and California legislative leaders to meet green energy accountability requirements spelled out in its 2012 report, “Rewiring California: Integrating Agendas for Energy Reform”?

The commission is the state’s independent state oversight agency. And 13,000 megawatts is the estimated amount of new green energy, according to “Rewiring California,” p. vii, coming on line in the course of the next decade in California under AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and other state laws.

On Oct. 24, Little Hoover sent a letter to Brown to hold the governor accountable on answering the much-avoided question about mandated green energy: How much is it going to cost, beginning in 2015?

Thus far, Brown has ignored the letter.


Neither has the Legislature passed the two electricity reform bills recommended by the Commission:

Assembly Bill 1763 is by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno. It requires the California Energy Commission to consult with other state and local agencies to develop “a report containing a state energy plan for 2030 and 2050 that promotes economic growth, ensures reliable, sustainable and affordable energy resources, and complements the state’s environmental stewardship goals.” The report then would be submitted to the governor and the Legislature.

No action was taken on AB1763 this year, and a hearing on it was canceled.

Assembly Bill 1779 is by Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville. Taking into account the implementation of AB32 and other state laws, it requires the CEC to “prepare a new, annual report to assess the effect in the aggregate of specified policies on electricity reliability and rates and whether these policies are achieving their stated environmental and economic goals.”

Back in April, AB1779 failed to pass the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. After that, nothing happened.

It’s not clear whether the bills, or similar ones, will be reintroduced into the new legislative session that began on Dec. 1.

Subpoena Power 

If there is no further action, can Little Hoover really issue subpoenas to get answers? Yes.

California Government Code Section 8541-8542 authorizes the Little Hoover Commission:

  • “To issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, records, papers, accounts, reports and documents…
  • “To direct the sheriff of any county or any marshal to serve subpoenas, orders and other process…
  • “To certify to the superior court of any county in which proceedings are held, the facts concerning the disobedience or resistance, by any person, of any lawful order, or the refusal of any person to respond to a subpoena … and to receive the assistance of the court in enforcing orders and process.”

The governor appoints five of the nine members of the Little Hoover Commission. So it is highly unlikely it would subpoena him on this or any other matter.

And two members are appointed by the Assembly speaker, with the final two appointed by the chairman of the state Senate Committee on Rules. So it’s also unlikely legislators would be subpoenaed.

Little Hoover potentially could compel testimony from lower-level state policymakers, such as California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols. But given her high profile and close relationship with Brown, that also seems unlikely.

Ultimately, it’s the voters who must hold the governor and legislators accountable. Which they may do if green-power costs spike energy rates.


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  1. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 1 January, 2015, 14:54

    So what exactly is the ‘Little Hoover Commission’? Is it one of those weird California-only quasi-governmental bodies like the American Assembly and the San Diego County Grand Jury, which never indicts criminals but seems to sit around writing white papers on ‘big’ issues? And how does it differ from the Big Hoover Commission? Anyone?

    Reply this comment
  2. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 1 January, 2015, 18:37

    Big Hoover Commission was not a vacuum cleaner company (sick joke).

    Seriously, what the Hoover Commission was, was a body appointed by former Pres. Harry Truman to recommend administrative changes to the Federal government.

    The Little Hoover Commission is enshrine in California law but is really not independent of the governor enough because the appointees can be terminated by the governor at will. Nonetheless, the LHC has taken some courageous actions by openly reprimanding the governor for failing in public accountability about the costs and reliability of green power under the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

    The implementation of the Act’s “Renewable Energy Portfolio” of 33% green power by 2020 ran into trouble staring in 2014 when solar power fades during sunset hours of the day and must be replaced with natural gas fired power. So the state grid operator hastily threw together what is called an “Energy Imbalancing Market” (a bad bureaucratic term meaning rebalancing market not imbalancing market) that buys cheap hydropower to replace solar power during the sunset hours each day (about 3 pm to 7 pm).

    California has an unusual electricity usage profile in that it has a double peak – once around 1 pm and then again about 7 pm when work commuters get home and turn on air conditioners, heaters, or big screen TV’s. That second peak in power usage has to be met with Nat Gas power unless cheap, clean hydropower can be purchased.

    A study conducted in 2014 by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Federal government found that California could double or triple its own large hydropower generation. This is called the New Stream-Reach Hydropower Development study. Nonetheless, due to green opposition to added hydropower in California, the state grid operator is working on procuring hydropower for the Energy Imbalancing Market from out-of-state providers, mainly Warren Buffett’s Pacifi-Corp system of privately owned dams in the Western U.S. So once again, California is now in the process of replacing so-called “dirty coal” power imported from Utah, Nevada and Arizona with hydropower imported from Warren Buffett. But will there be enough reliable imported hydropower to sustain California’s voracious appetite for sunset hour power?

    Water levels for dams along the Colorado River already are getting so low that they may have to halt hydropower generation. The Federal government is in the process of doing a retrofit of its hydropower intake towers on its dams to power can still be generated at lower water levels. But this is a race against time and still may not work if levels drop too far.

    Upstream, the State of Colorado has already vowed not to bail California out of its drought be releasing any potentially excess water that would flow to Parker Dam which is the life life intake for water for California’s Colorado River Aqueduct.

    So stay tuned to Calwatchdog to find out if California’s gamble on an Energy Imbalancing Market works or not. (And once again, who wants a water market that is imbalanced? Don’t we want a “balanced” market? California use of words for this new policy is right out of George Orwell’s double speak).

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    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 4 January, 2015, 19:38

      Thanks Wayne. I live in Oregon and my utility is a rural coop, of which I am a member. It is 100% hydropower from the bonneville Power Administration, which is a federal agency. My understanding is that PGE basically siphons BPA power south to CA, marking it up along the way. Also, can the press officially label Buffet an ‘oligarch’? Cause that’s what he is. An american oligarch…

      Reply this comment
      • ricky65
        ricky65 4 January, 2015, 20:27

        Hey Bill:
        Just wondering…how much do you pay per/kilowatt for your power? Is it tiered pricing like good ol’ PG&E. ..or no?
        I’ll dig out my latest PG&E bill if I can find one and give you a comparison.

        Reply this comment
  3. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 4 January, 2015, 21:23


    Hydropower out of Bonneville Dam would be WHOLESALE power and thus not priced in tiers as is RETAIL power.

    But as Bill Gore mentioned hydropower can be laundered many times over to jack up the price.

    Reply this comment
  4. John Galt
    John Galt 5 January, 2015, 10:09

    Looks like Bonneville Power’s wholesale charges for public agency electric utilities serving our friends in Oregon vary monthly with the least cost during summer months and the highest in the winter when commonly used electric heating is on. See: http://www.bpa.gov/Finance/RateInformation/RatesInfoPower/2014%20Power%20Rate%20Schedules(FINAL).pdf

    Reply this comment
  5. Charlie Peters
    Charlie Peters 22 March, 2015, 11:15

    GMO fuel mandate waiver can reduce ethanol ground water impact.

    Fuel alcohol generates an increase in ground level ozone and pm

    AB 32 (Pavley) climate law performance and children health can improve with a AB 23 alcohol mandate waiver.

    Motorists want a fuel mandate option to improve environment for the children, a prevent pollution choice.

    Reply this comment

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