New Legislation Strengthens Energy Grid to Prevent Rolling Blackouts

Thursday, February 25, 2021

New Legislation Strengthens Energy Grid to Prevent Rolling Blackouts

 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) has introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 699, which will establish an instantaneous rebate program to help low and moderate-income (LMI) families purchase smart home appliance devices, like interactive thermostats and smart plugs, that help save energy and reduce costs for ratepayers.

“Having smart home devices helps people save money on their electric bills,” said Assemblymember Salas. “By getting these devices into more homes we can help families save money and relieve stress on the grid to prevent rolling blackouts.”

With California residents experiencing frequent power shut offs and grid instability during natural disasters, smart home appliance devices are extremely important for stability, energy conservation, and cost-savings.

"Following the August outages, it is critical that California leverages demand-side resources to build not only a reliable grid, but an energy system that works for everyone, said Greg Wikler, Executive Director of California Efficiency + Demand Management Council. “AB 699 is critical to empowering California's low-income and disadvantaged communities to participate in and contribute to building California's grid of the future. The California Efficiency + Demand Management Council is proud to partner with Assemblymember Salas and the Center for Sustainable Energy to maximize deployment of smart devices that can help communities under significant strain from COVID-19 manage their home energy use. Together we hope to build stronger, more resilient communities, a more reliable grid, and a brighter future!”

While rebate programs exist for smart appliance devices, they have dismal enrollment records in underserved communities, particularly in rural areas. For example, in 2019 the Energy Savings Assistance (ESA) program had no homes use the program in the entire city of Fresno and only 1,918 out of 30,350 eligible homes were enrolled in all of Kern County.

“Renters and homeowners can reduce electricity costs and blackouts by using smart home devices that automatically respond to the demands of local and statewide grids,” said Raghav Murali, Senior Director of Policy and General Counsel at Center for Sustainable Energy. “The cost of such devices is often out of reach for low- and moderate-income families. AB 699’s incentives would foster more equitable access to these technologies and help assure the stability of the grid.”

AB 699 will address issues of inequity and grid instability by creating an instantaneous rebate program covering 50 percent of the costs for smart home appliance devices for LMI ratepayers. The rebate program would be available to homeowners, landlords, and renters and would help communities conserve energy, stabilize the grid, and save money.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.