Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
February 16th, 2021
Mass Vaccination Progress
Throughout the week, Governor Newsom visited large scale vaccination sites across the state that are ramping up efforts to get vaccinations delivered into arms. These mass vaccination sites include Petco Park in San Diego, Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, and the Big Fresno County fairgrounds. Along with showcasing the sites, the Governor announced that 20 of the state’s OptumServe testing sites will transition to vaccination centers, the first of which will be set up at Fresno City College. The state continues to focus on the vaccine rollout and their partnership with Weideman Group client Blue Shield of California is scheduled to come online next week. California is enjoying lower pandemic numbers not seen since before the winter holidays. Lower numbers have led to all counties returning to the colored tiers and Disney’s California Adventure announcing plans to open a limited ticketed experience focusing on dining and shopping in March.
President Joe Biden announced that the federal government has secured enough vaccine doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of July. This announcement comes as the latest in a series of announcements by the Biden Administration to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control and improve the national vaccination effort.
Legislative Oversight of Vaccinations
This week, the Assembly Committees on Accountability and Administrative review and Emergency Management held a joint hearing on distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. On hand to testify were representatives from the Los Angeles county and Yolo county public health departments as well as Director of the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Tomás Aragón, Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency, Yolanda Richardson, and representatives from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Members of the committees expressed concerns about maintaining an equity standard in the rollout, upholding best practices and existing vaccination appointments, the efficacy of the My Turn data system and details of the third party administrator contract with Blue Shield, which are still being finalized. State representatives assured legislators that equity and efficiency are top priorities for the state and for Blue Shield.
Governor Makes Key Energy Appointments
This week, Governor Newsom announced significant appointments to three of California’s energy agencies. Darcie Houck has been appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission, Siva Gangadhar Gunda has been appointed to the California Energy Commission, Jan Schori has been appointed to the Independent Systems Operator Board of Governors and Mary Leslie was reappointed to that board as well. Houck has previous experience with the Public Utilities Commission serving in a variety of roles including as an Administrative Law Judge. Similarly, Gunda has been with the Energy Commission since 2017 serving as Office Manager for the Demand Analysis Office and as Deputy Director. Schori was a member of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2021 and Leslie has served on the CAISO board since 2019. All the appointees have one year to be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, Houck will serve a 6 year term, Gunda will serve a 5 year term and Schori/Leslie will both serve 3 year terms. The full announcement can be found here.
Bill Introduction Deadline
Next Friday, February 19th is the deadline to introduce bills in both houses of the state legislature. While there are a few exceptions to this deadline and many bills will remain in “spot” form (meaning they won’t have substantive changes to the law), we will soon get a fairly complete glimpse of the universe of proposals facing the legislature this year. Weideman Group will be monitoring introduced legislation to ensure all policy proposals relevant to our clients are identified and plans are developed to address them. California’s mandatory 30-day in print rule means that none of the items introduced in this last week will be eligible to be heard in committee until the end of March.
California Energy Developments
This week important developments related to energy markets and power procurement in California were unveiled. Eight Community Choice Aggregators (including Weideman Group client East Bay Community Energy) announced a partnership to form California Community Power, a joint powers authority allowing the CCAs to combine their buying power to procure new, potentially larger clean energy projects, while sharing risk among the entities and gaining economies of scale. The JPA builds on an earlier, joint procurement by many of the same CCAs for 500 megawatts (MW) of long-duration energy storage.
Additionally, as a result of the rolling blackouts in Summer 2020, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered the state’s three investor-owned utilities to contract for available capacity to bolster grid reliability and serve peak electricity demands in Summer 2021. The CPUC has further directed utilities to begin exploring potential additional resources for Summer 2022.
California Coronavirus Response website can be found here
California Department of Public Health guidance documents can be found here
California COVID-19 risk screening and testing can be found here
California Local Public Health Authority information can be found here
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 updates can be found here
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