Energy producers race to beat new greenhouse-gas law

A number of municipal utilities in Southern California, moving briskly to beat a January 1 deadline of a new state law targeting greenhouse-gas emissions, are extending long-term contracts for coal-fired energy–pacts that would be barred after California’s law takes effect.

The law’s author, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, hopes to block the practice and intends to petition the Schwarzenegger administration to intervene. He has scheduled a November 20 meeting with utility representatives. The utilities, who opposed Perata’s bill when it was in the Legislature, believe his law targets them unfairly and cripples their ability to maintain a balanced, cost-effective energy portfolio. Some environmentalists, meanwhile, plan to
protest the utilities’ decision and already have urged legislative leaders to get involved in opposing the contracts.

“We would definitely draw it to the governor’s attention. He has been very clear this year about the direction he wants the state to move in reducing greenhouse gases,” said Perata spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

Perata’s bill, SB 1368, is intended to limit carbon pollution by forcing California utilities to purchase energy from power plants that meet greenhouse-gas emission standards. The bill, which Schwarzenegger signed on September 29, was crafted to prevent California’s use of energy produced by coal burning, which is cheaper, but dirtier, than natural gas or alternative fuels.

The bill did not receive the international attention of Assembly Speaker Fabian N

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