BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 222
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          AB 222 (Adams) 
          As Amended May 28, 2009
          Majority vote 

           UTILITIES AND COMMERCE           11-0                
          APPROPRIATIONS      14-1        
          |Ayes:|Fuentes, Duvall, Tom      |Ayes:|De Leon, Nielsen,         |
          |     |Berryhill, Blakeslee,     |     |Ammiano,                  |
          |     |Carter, Fuller, Furutani, |     |Charles Calderon, Davis,  |
          |     |Huffman, Smyth, Swanson,  |     |Duvall, Fuentes, Hall,    |
          |     |Torrico                   |     |Harkey, John A. Perez,    |
          |     |                          |     |Price, Solorio, Audra     |
          |     |                          |     |Strickland, Torlakson     |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
          |     |                          |Nays:|Skinner                   |
          |     |                          |     |                          |
           SUMMARY  :  Allows facilities that convert solid waste into energy  
          or chemicals to count as a renewable electricity generation  
          facility for the purpose of California's Renewable Portfolio  
          Standard (RPS).  It also allows local governments to count solid  
          waste that is converted into electricity or chemicals toward  
          their recycling diversion goals.  Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Defines "biorefinery" and requires such facilities to meet or  
            exceed all local and state air and water quality standards, as  
            well as other specified environmental protection criteria.

          2)Includes use of conversion of municipal solid waste (MSW) at a  
            biorefinery to electricity or certain other useful products  
            among the criteria that qualifies a facility for purposes of  
            the RPS.

          3)Prohibits a local government from including solid waste  
            diverted to a biorefinery towards its compliance with the  
            state requirement to divert 50% of solid waste from landfill  
            or transformation.

          4)Allows a local jurisdiction to include solid waste diverted to  
            a biorefinery towards meeting a requirement to divert more  
            than 50% of solid waste from landfill or transformation.


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          5)Repeals the definition of "solid waste conversion" and  
            specifies that a gasification facility is not a biorefinery. 

          6)Allows conversion at a biorefinery to count toward a utility's  
            RPS obligation and to potentially participate in CEC grant  

          7)Deletes the definition "gasification" from the Integrated  
            Waste Management Act. 

           EXISTING LAW  :

          1)Requires retail sellers of electricity, except local publicly  
            owned electric utilities, to increase their existing level of  
            renewable resources by 1% of sales per year such that 20% of  
            their retail sales are procured from eligible renewable  
            resources by 2017.

          2)Defines eligible renewable resources to include all generation  
            from an in-state renewable electricity generation facility  
            that uses biomass, solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind,  
            geothermal, fuel cells using renewable fuels, small  
            hydroelectric generation of 30 megawatts or less, digester  
            gas, municipal solid waste conversion, landfill gas, ocean  
            wave, ocean thermal, or tidal current, and any additions or  
            enhancements to the facility using that technology.

          3)Requires cities, counties, and regional agencies to divert at  
            least 50% of their solid waste from landfills.  Permits a  
            city, county, or regional agency to count up to 10% of their  
            50% mandated solid waste diversion from transformation or  
            biomass conversion under limited circumstances.

          4)Defines "gasification"  as a technology that uses a  
            noncombustion thermal process to convert solid waste to a  
            clean burning fuel for the purpose of generating electricity  
            and meets specified criteria.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Negligible costs, if any.

           COMMENTS  :  According to the author, the purpose of this bill is  
          to encourage the production of low-cost biofuels and green power  
          from California's from converting municipal solid waste into a  


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          fuel source that can be used to produce renewable electricity.   
          The author and supporters believe these goals can be achieved by  
          clarifying that solid waste conversion facilities that convert  
          municipal solid waste into electricity count toward a utility's  
          RPS and by creating incentives for local governments to provide  
          the conversion facilities with the solid waste fuel stocks. 

          The term "conversion technologies" refers to a wide variety of  
          different technologies that heat or "cook" solid waste in order  
          to reduce its volume, using the byproduct to produce energy or  
          other new products. 

          Conversion technologies include pyrolysis and gasification.   
          These technologies heat solid waste at extremely high  
          temperatures (over 1300F in gasification) to produce gas and  
          liquid residues that are typically burned to produce energy.   
          Biochemical conversion processes use acid or enzymatic processes  
          to split the chemical bonds of the feedstock (in this case solid  
          waste).  Resulting sugars can be fermented to make ethanol for  
          fuel, and acids for industrial uses.  All of these technologies  
          produce toxic air pollutants.  

          RPS requires investor-owned utilities and certain other retail  
          sellers to achieve a 20% renewable portfolio by 2010.  RPS  
          defines renewable resources to include, among other  
          technologies, a MSW conversion facility that meets specific  
          environmental standards.  These standards are more rigid than  
          standards for other industrial processes.  No MSW conversion  
          facility can meet all of these standards; consequently, current  
          law, in effect, prohibits MSW conversion facilities from  
          qualifying for purposes of meeting the state renewable energy  

          This bill would change the requirements for MSW conversion to  
          count toward the RPS so that instead of meeting the specific  
          restriction above, the biorefinery would be allowed to have  
          discharges of air contaminants, water, and hazardous waste  
          provided the facility was in full compliance with the standards  
          set by the California Air Resources Board (ARB), and the  
          California Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) that  
          apply to any other manufacturing processes.  

          This bill also allows a local government to count conversion of  
          MSW at a biorefinery as part of its diversion of solid waste,  


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          should a local government be required to divert more than 50% of  
          its solid waste.  In doing so, the bill allows a process that  
          does not count toward a local government's MSW diversion  
          requirement today to potentially count toward MSW diversion in  
          the future, albeit to a limit extent. 

          Opponents, including several environmental and environmental  
          justice organizations, argue that this bill could result in the  
          release of toxic air emissions that result from the "cooking" of  
          waste.  Solid waste conversion relies on feed stock that is as  
          varied as the contents of the solid waste stream.  The quality  
          of emissions resulting from such solid waste conversion,  
          opponents claim, is therefore unpredictable and will most  
          certainly include high levels of pollutants, regardless of the  
          bill's language to the contrary.

          Opponents also argue that this bill provides local government  
          with a perverse incentive to send their solid waste to  
          biorefineries rather than increasing their rate of recycling or  
          composting or reducing the volume of their waste stream.  Such  
          an incentive contradicts well-established state waste management  

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Edward Randolph / U. & C. / (916)  

                                                                FN: 0001013