BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 531
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 20, 2009

                    ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON UTILITIES AND COMMERCE
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair
                    AB 531 (Salda?a) - As Amended:  April 13, 2009
           
          SUBJECT  :   Energy consumption data: disclosure.

           SUMMARY  :   Exempts utilities from prohibitions against  
          disclosing customer energy consumption data to comply with the  
          California law requiring benchmarking for certain  
          non-residential buildings.  

           EXISTING LAW  

          1) Requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to prescribe  
          building design and construction standards as well as energy  
          conservation design standards that increase energy efficiency  
          for new residential and non-residential buildings.

          2) Requires that upon the authorization of a nonresidential  
          building owner or operator, an electric or gas utility upload  
          may all of the energy consumption data for the account specified  
          for a building to the United States Environmental Protection  
          Agency's Energy Star Portfolio Manager (ESPM).

          4) Requires that an owner or operator of a nonresidential  
          building disclose the United States ESPM benchmarking data and  
          ratings for the most recent 12-month period to a prospective  
          buyer, lessee of the entire building, or lender that would  
          finance the entire building on and after January 1, 2010.

          5) States that utility customer information regarding  
          customer-specific billing, credit, or usage information shall be  
          confidential unless the customer consents in writing. 

          6) Allows for disclosure of generic utility customer information  
          regarding the usage, load shape, or other general  
          characteristics of a group or rate classification, unless the  
          release of that information would reveal customer specific  
          information because of the size of the group, rate  
          classification, or nature of the information.

           THIS BILL:









                                                                 AB 531
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           1) Exempts utilities from the prohibition against the disclosure  
          of customer information of customer specific billing, credit, or  
          usage information for the purposes of reporting energy  
          consumption data to comply with the California law requiring  
          benchmarking for non-residential buildings upon request.   

          2) Requires that an owner or operator of a nonresidential  
          building disclose the United States ESPM benchmarking data and  
          ratings for the most recent 12-month period to a prospective  
          buyer, lessee of the entire building, or lender that would  
          finance the entire building based on a schedule of compliance  
          established by the CEC.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown.

           COMMENTS  :   According to the author, this bill is needed in  
          order for utilities to disclose the necessary customer usage  
          data in order to comply with the state's benchmarking law  
          without violating existing utility consumer confidentiality  
          laws. This bill exempts utilities from those consumer  
          confidentiality laws for the purposes of complying with the  
          benchmarking law. This bill also removes the hard implementation  
          date of January 1, 2010 and instead allows the CEC to develop an  
          implementation schedule in order to ensure that the goals of AB  
          1003 are met without harming potential transactions for which we  
          do not yet have a viable process established for benchmarking. 

          1)  Background:  Benchmarking is a term applied to efforts to  
          track and compare the energy use of commercial buildings by  
          comparing the energy consumption per square foot of floor space.  
          It is a tool for understanding the relative energy efficiency of  
          buildings to better inform investment decisions made by building  
          operators, owners and prospective owners.

           Executive Order S-20-04 required the CEC to select a  
          benchmarking methodology to increase energy efficiency in  
          government and private commercial buildings. The CEC selected  
          the benchmarking system developed by the U.S. Environmental  
          Protection Agency, known as the ESPM. The ESPM is an online tool  
          for building owners and managers. The system is designed to  
          streamline energy and water data and track performance,  
          consumption, and cost information. The program includes a rating  
          system that provides owners and operators with a rating of 1-100  
          relative to similar buildings nationwide.  









                                                                  AB 531
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          In a 2005 report, Options for Energy Efficiency in Existing  
          Buildings, the CEC recommended that utilities be required to  
          provide benchmarking data with billing information to  
          nonresidential           building owners. The CEC also  
          recommended that the information be disclosed during financing  
          and refinancing transactions.   

          AB 1103 (Salda?a), Chapter 533, Statutes of 2007, combined  
          elements of the Governor's Executive Order and the CEC report.  
          AB 1103 required that utilities upload the necessary data to  
          create an ESPM account upon request and also required that ESPM  
          benchmarking data and ratings be provided to a prospective  
          buyer, lessee of the entire building, or lender that would  
          finance the building. 

          2)  Is this the right fix?:  While current law does require that  
          utilities keep all information regarding their customers'  
          billing and usage confidential, there is also a provision  
          allowing a customer to consent in writing to allow the utility  
          to disclose this information. The language in the benchmarking  
          law requires utilities to disclose this information under  
          slightly more flexible conditions; upon the written  
          authorization or secure electronic authorization of a  
          nonresidential building owner or operator. Therefore, utilities  
          may already have the ability to comply with both laws by using  
          the written authorization option. In fact, the state's  
          Benchmarking Working Group (WG) recently developed a simplified  
          agreement that would satisfy both the benchmarking and  
          confidentiality requirements.  However current law is unclear,  
          at best, as to how a utility can best comply with both laws  
          simultaneously. If the intent of the author is to facilitate the  
          implementation of the benchmarking law, rather than create an  
          exemption from confidentiality laws for the utilities,  the  
          author may wish to consider amending the bill to make the  
          language regarding authorization requirements in the  
          benchmarking law consistent with the confidentiality law.  
              
           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          California Association of Realtors
          California Business Properties Association
          California Chamber of Commerce









                                                                  AB 531
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           Opposition 
           
          None on file.
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Nina Kapoor / U. & C. / (916) 319-2083