Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Arnold Changes His Mind, Will Sign AB 3034 Today

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Even though everyone believed Sunday was the real drop-dead date to modify the fall ballot, the governor's office believes "we have a few days left" - and so Arnold will drop his petulant "I'm not signing anything until there's a budget" and will sign AB 3034 today. Presumably this really does mean Prop 1 will be replaced with Prop 1A. Guess we're gonna have to change the stationery.

"Any measures that must be placed on the November ballot must be acted upon quickly," the governor said in a letter dated Monday to legislative leaders. "I urge you to send me these measures that must be placed on the November ballot immediately."

The governor specifically references four measures, but only one of them — the high-speed rail bill — has been agreed upon by lawmakers....

The governor had repeatedly vowed to veto any bills sent his way until lawmakers agree on a state budget, now 57 days late. He changed his mind because "the governor believes that Californians should have the opportunity to vote on these specific measures," said his press secretary, Aaron McLear.

Quentin Kopp had already given up on AB 3034 and put out a statement yesterday stating that the Authority planned to adopt "most" of the AB 3034 recommendations. Now it seems like that's been superseded by AB 3034 itself.

As we explained last week this has been a sorry business with the legislature and the governor both failing to move quickly and effectively on the bill. One huge question mark is the updated business plan - AB 3034 mandates it be released by September 1, which is six days from now. Hopefully the Authority has been working on it, but I doubt anything they produce will satisfy the usual HSR deniers.

Nothing's certain until we see the printed ballots, but it does look like we're going to have to get used to "Yes on 1A." Thank god I didn't order those bumper stickers yet...

23 comments:

Brandon in San Diego said...

Good news.

And, the requirement to produce a business plan by September 6th would be hypocritical given that the legislature cannot pass their own state budget on time and unfair to expect one in so little time.

Stepphen said...

brandon:

Yes, this is an unexpected, but great development. The CHRSA has probably been working on the business plan for a while. It's not like they would wait to see whether the Governator would AB 3034. The timeline is just being pushed forward. If CHRSA anticipated AB 3034 would pass, then they would have worked the business plan for a few months. Besides, moving it up for Oct 6 to Sept 6...they can do it...ppl will just work longer hours on it. They'll work faster on it b/c they will want Prop 1A to pass now.

guysmiley said...

so can we sill get the now obsolete prop 1 off the ballot, or are we stuck with both?

nikko pigman said...

Prop 1 is gone and is going to be replaced with Prop 1A.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Stepphen, yes, I know. I am simply pointing out that observation for naysayers, or for the legislature, that if that date was pressed and the CHSRA seemingly had their feet put to the fire that it would be hypocritical.

I would hope very much, and would expect, that the CHSRA staff had been working on an updated business plan... regardless of the status of AB 3034.

Although, even if there were a draft final on a computer someplace... I expect it would still need to be presented before the CHSRA Board of Directors and adopted prior to being publicly released as the final plan and meeting the requirements of AB 3034.

With that said... the CHSRA Board meets on September 3rd. I pulled from the agenda today and forward that Agenda Item 8 reads:

8. Resolution of Intent to Sponsor Independent Statutory Enactment of Assembly Bill 3034 Chairman Kopp will present for adoption a proposal resolution pressing the intent of the Authority to secure independent statutory enactment of Assembly Bill 3034 provisions and request legislative sponsors of Assembly Bill 3034 to effectuate such statute before adjournment.

Assuming a September 6th deadline for a business plan is correct Agenda Item 8 could involve release of a Draft Business Plan, or adoption of a Draft Business Plan.

However, if approving a plan I would expect the Board to have already considered it. If they have not yet, I would expect it would be presented as a different item on the agenda. Thus far, I don’t see anything on that agenda.

I have not reviewed prior agendas and do not know the status of the Business Plan; however, it might not become presented/available until the Board meets in early October.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Speaking of the Business Plan and its status, I note that another agenda item for the CHSRA's September 3rd meeting includes a report on the use of renewable energy sources to provide power to...

The 3-paragrapgh conclusion of the report reads:

The California High Speed Train represents a tremendous opportunity for California to meet its GHG emission reduction goals by removing cars from the road and by slowing demand for additional air travel. However, the train also would use a significant amount of electricity. By 2030, 3,380 GWh usage of the HST represents an electricity usage even larger than that of the more moderately sized public utilities in the state.

In general, cost trends are leading renewables to be cost‐competitive with fossil fuels more quickly than analysts had predicted. Still the CHSRA should consider a policy that allows flexibility given the unlikely event that the premium for clean energy becomes prohibitively large (and could result in significant ridership losses); in such a case, the policy could allow the CHSRA to put somewhat less renewable energy into the grid than it will be using (i.e. not meet the 100% standard).

The CHSRA should decide early on in the development process whether or not they wish to pursue an
all‐renewable option for the train. If so, it will be necessary to incorporate renewable energy planning into the business and environmental plans of the train. Expertise in renewable energy development is available, and would ensure the CHSRA develops its energy future in a cost effective and environmentally acceptable way. For planning purposes it is best to be committed early to renewable
energy.


It would seem obvious that a decision to pursue renewable energy sources as part of the project, at any level, would have implications to final development of the Business Plan.

This is a decision point for the Board... and could delay final development of a plan if considered at this time.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Link to Navigant Consulting report on:

THE USE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES TO PROVIDE POWER TO
CALIFORNIAʹS HIGH SPEED RAIL

nikko pigman said...

Thanks for that link Brandon. It looks like they think it'll be very feasible and cost effective to use green technology, and its evident they're suggesting the use of windpower: its the cheapest and can provide the most energy. But I noticed in their load shape graphs, wind energy can not provide the necessary energy needed for peak hours (which stem from long distance commuters). And its inconsistent so something else would be needed to fill that gap.

I'm a supporter of nuclear power but I'm not sure building a plant would be worth it in this case.

nikko pigman said...

By 'inconsistent' I meant the supply of energy from wind power fluctuates (because of the presence or lack thereof).

Rafael said...

Electric traction provides the following advantages:

a) higher top speed
b) better acceleration
c) recuperative braking
d) zero tailpipe emissions
e) point sources of emissions
f) option to switch to renewable sources of primary energy at any time

I think it would make perfect sense to run HSR on renewable electricity alone, based on GWhs consumed and produced over the course of an entire year. It would be up to the grid operator to decide which sources of electricity should be tapped at any given moment.

However, with all the delays related to AB3034 and its demand to deliver an updated business plan very soon, it might be wise for CHSRA to defer its decision on this until after Nov 4. It should be a goal, but an early and firm commitment to 100% renewable should depend on voter approval of the contested prop 7.

無名 - wu ming said...

a few thermal solar plants along the tracks in the san joaquin valley would provide a decent peak baseload to balance the wind out. add a tidal energy plant or two, and the mix should work well enough.

besides, if it's plugged into the grid, it's not really about baseload so much as providing the energy, over the course of months and years, that the train would be using. it won't be a stand-alone thing. adding more variety of power actually increases resiliance.

Rob Dawg said...

AB 3034 mandates it be released by September 1, which is six days from now. Hopefully the Authority has been working on it, but I doubt anything they produce will satisfy the usual HSR deniers.

Of course. Then again, anyone who raises questions as to the policies and/or procedures of CHSRA are usually classed as deniers here.

The potential sticking point is funding guarantees. The long standing idea was that once the State started turning dirt with the initial $9.1b that the Feds would feel obligated to kick in at the most very least $12b. Now the goal is to get that money pledged before the first shovel full of dirt is turned.

mike said...

Rob,

HR 6003 (passed in the House, but needs to be reconciled with the Senate) provides $4.8 billion in matching funds to states from 2009-2013. That would probably be sufficient to cover the necessary Federal match during that time period, but only if California were the only applicant, which I doubt it will be. Still, the groundwork is clearly being laid.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Much also depends on the outcome of the presidential election. Obama has a long record of HSR advocacy. McCain has a long record of hating passenger rail. A McCain victory could set back our own project by five years.

Rob Dawg said...

Mike,
I agree as to the groundwork for financing being actively AND EFFECTIVELY PURSUED.

The problem isn't about finding "the money" but the new 1a requirement that "the money" be pledged ahead of time.

The same thing happened a generation ago with the Chunnel.

Brandon in San Diego said...

It is already state or federal law that a public project cannot move forward without secured funding.

Of course, that would be for the individual phases.

earl g. said...

@ mike

This HR 6003. Is this a bill with authorization and appropriation?

Just a short while ago, Senator Reid of Nevada, was trumpeting $56 million was going to come from the Fed to start work on a MAGLEV rail project from Anaheim to Las Vegas.

Well guess what. All smoke and mirrors. They only got funding for $5 million. Hardly enough to turn on the lights.

nikko pigman said...

HR6003 doesn't refer to the federal match grant that would theoretically be supplied to the authority.

First of all Mike, you got a few facts wrong. The total number HR 6003 accounts for is $14.9 billion. Of this amount, $4.3 billion is going to HSR projects and passenger rail corridors nationally. That means the CAHSR is going to be competing with other agencies to acquire that money. And you must keep in mind this is spread out over 4 years. So that's about $1.2 billion per year. And since the CAHSR will have competition for that money, they're only going to get a fraction of it (although its likely they'll get the lions share).

That's hardly going to be the federal matching grant that the CAHSR is talking about. Once the bond is approved, the CAHSR project expenses would be added to the proposed budget next year for consideration.

Robert, to be fair, McCain, although he's a staunch Amtrak critic said in one of his statements about Amtrak is that rail is only practical in the Northeast and in the far west (california). So in theory, that would apply to CAHSR. But it may be a statement to appease those many in california and the northeast who see the train not only as beneficial but an essential part of life. Now as far as whether or not he would support HSR remains to be seen.

And for the sake of the support of this project, I would avoid trying to tie the HSR cause to liberal vs conservative politics, especially when you're taking sides.

nikko pigman said...

A few further notes:

"added to the proposed budget next year for consideration."

I was referring to the federal budget.

"And for the sake of the support of this project, I would avoid trying to tie the HSR cause to liberal vs conservative politics, especially when you're taking sides."

My point being that it could be a repellent to conservatives who might otherwise vote for HSR (and a lot of them will).

Cal said...

alot of them in the Valley sure will. Outside of all the nimbys and the usual old no tax whiners this really should pass ..then the hard part is getting the Feds to give us the match that freely give to roads..air ..ect ect

mike said...

Nikko,

Uh, dude, did you even read anything at all that I wrote?

The total number HR 6003 accounts for is $14.9 billion. Of this amount, $4.3 billion is going to HSR projects and passenger rail corridors nationally.

Yes, that would be the part where I said "$4.8 billion." My $4.8 billion also includes the $500 million available for capital projects that reduce rail congestion.

That means the CAHSR is going to be competing with other agencies to acquire that money.

Yes, that would be the part where I said it would be sufficient "only if California were the only applicant, which I doubt it will be."


And you must keep in mind this is spread out over 4 years.

Yes, that would be the part where I said "2009-2013."

But thanks for verifying everything I said! ;-)

Eric said...

Nikko Pigman,

I definitely agree with you. Like I said before somewhere on this forum, don't inadvertently alienate people by bringing in hard core politics. When talking politics, either at a forum like this one or at a dinner table, it has a way of splitting up friends because people get very defensive.

Lets keep everyone together on this project and not put in a divide because of the McCain/Obama statements that have been put out so far by each administration.

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