The California State Assembly passed AB 2514, legislation that members hope will create a smarter electric grid, increase the use of renewable energy, save Californians money by avoiding the need to build new power plants, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants through the use of energy-storage technologies by utility companies.

Authored by Nancy Skinner, chair of the Assembly Rules Committee, in partnership with California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr., AB 2514 also is intended to create thousands of permanent new jobs in California.

“Energy storage improves the overall efficiency of our electric-power system, which will lower costs for consumers,” Skinner said.

By March 1, 2012, the bill would require the Public Utilities Commission to open a proceeding to consider establishing investor-owned utility procurement targets for viable and cost-effective energy-storage systems to be achieved by Dec. 31, 2015, and an additional target to be achieved by Dec. 31, 2020. Publicly owned utilities would have comparable requirements and would be required to develop plans to maximize shifting of electricity use for air conditioning and refrigeration from peak demand periods to off-peak periods.

Electrical contractors in California could eventually benefit from the stimulated grid and renewable-energy work.