California bill on pipeline integration of RNG clears committee

By Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas | April 26, 2018

A proposed bill sponsored by the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition) that seeks to accelerate the production and integration of green gas into California’s natural gas supply passed out of the State Assembly’s Utilities and Energy Committee today. 

AB 3187, introduced by Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord), would help to decrease the cost of interconnecting in-state production facilities that should be developed to capture and convert methane from California’s diverted organic materials, livestock and agricultural waste, landfills and wastewater treatment facilities into renewable natural gas (RNG, biomethane).

“Biomethane has many environmental advantages because it can replace fossil sources of natural gas in homes and businesses,” said Assemblymember Grayson. “This legislation can help producers of biomethane further develop this clean energy technology in order to meet California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

The bill would require the California Public Utilities Commission to reevaluate the State’s existing Monetary Incentive Program—a $40 million untapped fund established by the CPUC to offset up to 50 percent of the costs to interconnect RNG production facilities to the common carrier pipelines. The RNG Coalition contends the fund has not been accessed by RNG project developers to date largely because 50 percent coverage is insufficient given California’s high interconnection costs—and requests that the CPUC consider allowing the program to cover up to 100 percent of interconnection costs for qualified in-state RNG projects.

“AB 3187 will support California’s organic waste diversion and methane reduction goals by facilitating development of in-state projects to process diverted organics and capture methane that would otherwise be flared or escape fugitively into the atmosphere,” said Johannes Escudero, CEO of the RNG Coalition. “RNG production epitomizes sustainability, redeeming waste by converting it for productive end-use, but scale cannot happen without the ability to cost-effectively connect to pipelines.”

Enactment of the bill would support both the California Air Resources Board’s requirement to ensure that statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are reduced to at least 40-percent below the statewide GHG limit by 2030, and the California Public Utilities Commission’s existing requirement to adopt policies and programs that promote in-state production and distribution of biomethane.

Methane, which naturally emits as the organic components break down in each of our waste streams, is the second most abundant anthropogenic GHG after carbon dioxide. It is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.