NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
California Proposal Would Double Funding of Energy-Storage Incentives
CALIFORNIA IS ALREADY A NATIONAL LEADER in energy
storage. Now, a member of the California Public Utilities
Commission (PUC), Clifford Rechtschaffen, has submitted a
proposed decision that would double funding for the state’s Self
Generation Incentive Program.
The 15-year-old program offers payments to customers who
generate and store their own electricity using various strategies,
such as energy storage, fuel cells, combined heat and power, and
solar. The program has encouraged adoption of energy storage,
but this proposal would double the amount that utilities already
collect from ratepayers, resulting in an increase of $83 million
on an annual basis through 2019.
Additionally, the increased
funding would be mostly
earmarked for behind-the-
meter energy storage and
percent of the increased
funds will be used to provide
storage incentive payments, but none will be used for
residential storage. The other 15 percent will be earmarked for
Incentive funding for residential storage systems of 10
kilowatts or less is still available out of the first $83 million
allocation. Only the increased funds would be earmarked toward
incentives for larger storage systems.
The PUC forecasts that the increased allocation will result
in nearly $250 billion. Of this, nearly $200 billion will be
available for energy-storage incentives. Another $35 billion
will be available for renewable systems. The roughly $15 billion
remaining will pay for administration.
The ruling would apply to Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego
Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and the Southern
California Gas Co.
The full PUC will have to approve the proposal before it goes
into effect. The regulatory agency began holding public hearings
on the proposal in March.
Current Safety Concerns for ECs: What to Expect
ACCORDING TO WES WHEELER,
director of safety for the National
Electrical Contractors Association
(NECA), a number of issues are
currently up in the air under the Trump
administration, specifically some
federal safety regulations that can affect
electrical contractors. However, there
are some certainties.
For instance, a great deal of attention
is being paid to workplace chemical
exposure rules, particularly beryllium
and silica. Many of the previous
administration’s policies and regulations
have changed. The federal reporting
requirements for workplace labor and
safety violations have been rescinded.
Most, if not all of those violations have
been settled or abated. Furthermore, on
April 10, the “Volks” rule was repealed.
“We don’t feel that beryllium exposure
in construction is quite to the levels
that OSHA is reporting, and we feel
comfortable with the best work practices
that are currently in place,” Wheeler said.
In addition, Wheeler said NECA does
not want to see OSHA come into a multi-employer work site and cite ECs who may
have had no knowledge or involvement in
The new regulation related to
construction requirements on silica
exposure was originally set to go
into effect on June 23, but there is
now a 90-day delay to give the new
administration additional time to
review these changes.
One main concern for ECs relates to
Table 1 of the silica regulation.
“It seems like an easy rule: Follow
Table 1 and put everyone in respirators
when it is needed,” Wheeler said.
However, it is impractical to expect
every worker to wear a respirator. A
second concern is that the regulation
requires a written respirator program,
including surveillance, medical
evaluation and more.
“Putting every employer and employee
through all of this is an undue burden and
economically unfeasible, especially for
smaller contractors,” he said.
According to Wheeler, silica-related
illnesses have decreased dramatically in
recent years, primarily because of best
practices put in place by contractors to
reduce individual exposures.
Another question is what will happen
with the litigation brought up by the
construction industry on the silica rule,
claiming that the industry would have a
difficult time complying with it.
“NECA is a part of the Construction
Industry Safety Coalition, which is
challenging this rule,” he said.
The association would like to see
OSHA return to previous personal
exposure limits (PELs), because it
believes they were practical when it came
“We also want a chance to work
with OSHA to develop a rule that is
technically and economically feasible,
with a realistic PEL value, and one
that will not punish our contractors
who work on multi-employer sites,
where exposures can be caused by
other contractors or even the natural
environment, which could raise levels
above what OSHA has on the books
now,” Wheeler said.
—WILLIAM ATKINSON IST