December 19, 2012 - California currently maintains over a dozen major programs that are intended to support the development of energy efficiency and alternative energy in the state. Over the past 10 to 15 years, the state has spent a combined total of roughly $15 billion on such efforts. In response to the Supplemental Report of the 2012-13 Budget Package, this report provides an overview of these different programs, as well as a preliminary assessment of them in terms of priority, overlap, and redundancy. We find that the state currently lacks a comprehensive framework that fully coordinates the state's energy incentive programs to help ensure that the state’s goals are being achieved in the most cost-effective manner. The absence of such a comprehensive framework (1) results in some level of program duplication, (2) results in some departments making policy choices that may not be aligned to legislative priorities, and (3) makes it difficult to compare effectiveness across programs. As a result, we recommend that the Legislature develop a comprehensive strategy for meeting the state’s energy efficiency and alternative energy objectives. In general, the comprehensive strategy should specify: (1) the state’s energy efficiency and alternative energy goals, (2) how programs should fit together to achieve the state’s goals, and (3) how program effectiveness will be measured.
February 21, 2014 - In this report, we analyze the Governor's 2014-15 budget for the state's resources and environmental protection programs. We review and make recommendations on a number of major policy proposals, including a review of the administration's recently released Water Action Plan as well as the proposal to reduce or eliminate several programs currently funded by the Beverage Container Recycling Fund (commonly referred to as the "bottle bill"). We find that these policy proposals are generally reasonable approaches, though we identify trade-offs in the proposals and offer recommendations for legislative consideration. The report also identifies several issues included in the Governor's budget that merit additional legislative oversight. This includes the proposal to provide the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with a total of $43 million from the General Fund to address deferred maintenance backlogs. While we find that it makes fiscal sense to address deferred maintenance, there is uncertainty about what factors have contributed to the large backlogs, as well as how the state can best address maintenance needs on an ongoing basis.
February 22, 2022 - This brief provides overarching comments on the Governor's $2 billion clean energy package and recommendations related to a few of the proposed programs.
June 21, 2019 - Recent catastrophic wildfires caused by utilities in California have caused tens of billions of dollars in property damage. Under current legal standards, these damages will directly lead to increased costs for utilities, which could be passed on to ratepayers. Moreover, the recognition of increased potential costs associated with wildfire risks has affected the credit markets, contributing to one investor owned utility (Pacific Gas and Electric) declaring bankruptcy, as well as credit downgrades for other utilities. These credit effects will make it more difficult and expensive for utilities to secure financing for capital investments, which will also increase costs for ratepayers, as well as potentially affect other policy goals. The goal of this report is to be a resource for policymakers and the public seeking to better understand the complicated issues surrounding utilities and the costs associated with wildfire risks.
March 10, 2023 - This brief considers the Governor’s proposals to (1) establish a new central procurement role for the state to secure energy resources, and (2) require electric utilities that experience energy deficiencies to make payments for state-operated emergency backup electricity resources.
February 20, 2002 - A multiplicity of agencies, and evidence of certain duplicative activities and other problems, suggests that it is time for the state to "stand back" and assess how its various energy-related entities are organized and interacting with one another.
October 16, 2023 - The 2023‑24 budget package provides a total of $19.2 billion from various fund sources—the General Fund, bond funds, a number of special funds, and federal funds—for programs administered by the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) and Environmental Protection Agency. This is a net decrease of $15.5 billion (45 percent) compared to 2022‑23 estimated levels. This change is primarily due to a large amount of one-time funding—mostly from the General Fund—provided to departments within both agencies in 2022‑23.
February 24, 2014 - In order to minimize the negative economic impact of cap-and-trade, it is important that auction revenues be invested in a way that maximizes GHG emission reductions for a given level of spending. In reviewing the Governor's proposed expenditure plan, we find that there is significant uncertainty regarding the degree to which each investment proposed for funding will achieve GHG reductions. This uncertainty is the result of several factors, including there being only limited data and analysis provided by the administration, as well as the fact that the level of emission reductions achieved would depend on the specific projects funded by departments. Given these concerns, we recommend that the Legislature direct ARB to develop metrics for departments to use in order to prospectively evaluate the potential GHG emission benefits of proposed projects, as well as direct the board to establish a set of guidelines for how departments should incorporate these metrics into their decision making processes.
January 28, 2021 - The Governor’s budget proposes several changes to taxation to support businesses. Two key factors for evaluating these proposals are: (1) which level of government would forgo revenue; and (2) which businesses would receive assistance. Based on these criteria and others, we recommend that the Legislature prioritize expansion of the Main Street credit, explore alternative structures for an elective S Corporation tax, and reject the proposed one-time expansions of the CAEATFA exclusion and California Competes.
January 6, 2020 - In this report, we assess the effects of the state’s major policies intended to reduce emissions from the generation of electricity.
October 17, 2019 - The 2019-20 budget includes over $12 billion for the state’s natural resources and environmental protection programs. This post describes budgetary actions related to the annual cap-and-trade expenditure plan, support for a new safe and affordable drinking water program, funding for a variety of wildfire prevention and response activities, as well as other significant changes.
March 2, 2015 - In this report, we review the Governor's 2015-16 budget proposals for various transportation departments and programs, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA), California Highway Patrol, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Based on our review, we make recommendations for legislative consideration and oversight.
February 3, 2011 - This responds to Senator Padilla's request that we conduct an independent review of the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program at the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (CEC). This program, which will automatically expire unless extended through legislative action, provides grants for research to develop energy technologies that benefit the environment, provide greater electricity system reliability, and lower system costs. We find that (1) the CEC has not demonstrated that there has been a substantial payoff to date from the state’s investment of more than $700 million in ratepayer funds, (2) there is a role for the state to continue to support public interest energy research, and (3) if the Legislature decides that there should be a continuing state role in this area of research, improvements could be made to the implementation of this role, including tightening funding eligibility parameters and changing the process by which research funding is allocated.
March 10, 2009 - The recently enacted federal economic stimulus package commits a total of $787 billion nationwide. We estimate that California will receive over $31 billion in monies that can be used to address budget shortfalls and supplement existing state spending and billions more in competitive grants. The recently enacted state 2009-10 budget specifies that if the amount available to address the state's budgetary problems is less than $10 billion, then annual state program reductions of nearly $1 billion and revenue increases of about $1.8 billion will go into effect. Based on the enacted state 2009-10 budget we estimate that $8 billion would be available. Given the state’s continuing economic struggles, however, it may be possible to use additional federal education dollars for budgetary relief. We identify key issues that the Legislature should consider in making decision regarding these new federal funds, including ways to maximize their benefit to the state General Fund and to provide appropriate oversight on the use of the federal monies.