A Southern California Edison sign outside the San Onofre Nuclear Plant.
Sacramento lawmakers are nearing final approval on a wide-ranging bill that would change how energy rates are set for California’s privately owned utilities. It would also likely save people in places like the Inland Empire some money.
The original idea of AB 327 was to protect the little guy: Fresno assemblyman Henry Perea, an author of the measure, says low and middle income customers are feeling the pinch of a 12-year-old problem.
"Right after the energy crisis the legislature decided that ratemaking should be done in the legislature rather than the PUC," Perea says.
The PUC, or Public Utilities Commission, has had limited authority since 2001 to boost basic rates. Greenlining Institute’s Stephanie Chen, an advocate for low-income communities, says that has created long-term problems nobody planned for.
Get Inspired/Nancy Caruso
O.C. high school kids feed abalone kelp as they grow in a classroom.
As a result of the first genetic study of once-abundant green abalone in Southern California’s, some L.A.-based scientists have gotten a grant to breed captive abalone in a lab, as we report on the radio today.
But the scientists aren't the only ones working to bring abalone back. Programs in Orange County also seek to demonstrate the viability of restoring green abalone populations in coastal waters.
In Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos, high school students have worked over the past year to breed and nurture green abalone that will later be released into the ocean by marine biologist Nancy Caruso, who runs a nonprofit that brings marine education into schools.
Caruso got permission from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to try selective “outplanting” of abalone, releasing classroom-grown specimens into the wild.
Courtesy Hope for the Hills
Chino Hills residents waged a 6-year campaign against high voltage transmission lines wedged into narrow right-of-ways among homes that Southern California Edison says will connect Kern County wind energy to the LA Basin.
State utility officials and people in Chino Hills are celebrating the start of work to put a section of a high-voltage transmission line in the ground rather than above homes.
The Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project connects a wind farm in Kern County to the L.A. basin with high-voltage lines strung between towers that rise 200 feet into the sky. Homeowners in Chino Hills complained that a stretch of the transmission line through their neighborhood was too narrow, allowing towers 60 feet wide to be plunked down within yards of houses.
A group called Hope for the Hills fought the transmission lines for four years. They recruited local politicians to their cause. But an administrative judge ruled the towers could stay.
Last month, the head of the state's Public Utilities Commission offered an alternate solution: relocate the lines underground at a cost of 224 million dollars. On Friday, PUC president Michael Peevey and other officials kicked off the project, which begins in earnest later this month.
This Feb. 12, 2009 photo shows buildings at the old Rocketdyne facility, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, in the Simi Valley area near Los Angeles. )
A coalition of watchdog groups has asked a court to stop the Boeing Corporation from sending demolition debris from the closed Santa Susana Field Laboratory to recycling centers and landfills.
Boeing has been demolishing buildings at the old rocket and nuclear testing site, where a partial nuclear meltdown half a century ago caused widespread contamination.
Lawyers working for the Physicians for Social Responsibility, Committee to Bridge the Gap, Consumer Watchdog, and other groups claim debris from some of the buildings is radioactive. They say Boeing has sent that material to recycling centers and dumps across the area and have sued to stop the practice.
The company and the Department of Toxic substances Control have agreed to stop shipping out the debris temporarily.
Boeing spokeswoman Megan Hilfer said in a written statement that the lawsuit has no merit. However, she said the company "has voluntarily delayed building demolition and disposal activities [...] through September to allow the parties time to present the legal issues to the court for orderly consideration."
State officials suspended operations at the Exide Technologies in Vernon, Calif. in April due to emissions of arsenic that could pose a health risk to 110,000 people in nearby communities. The plant is now reopened.
A Vernon battery recycler began testing dust and soil for toxic pollution this week, part of a new effort to determine the risk airborne contaminants from the plant pose to surrounding areas.
The Department of Toxic Substances Control issued a closure order to Exide Technologies earlier this year.
DTSC officials said lead and arsenic could have leached through holes in the company’s stormwater pipes. They also pointed to a study from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, concluding that cyanide and other airborne materials posed an elevated cancer risk to residents of Boyle Heights, Maywood, Huntington Park, and other nearby communities.
An administrative judge has permitted Exide re-open while it appeals the closure order. The company has filed for Chapter 11 status in a Delaware bankruptcy court.