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September 30, 2006

For More Information, Contact:
Paige Schoknecht at (650) 688-6384 or (650) 223-4085


SACRAMENTO – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that he has signed SB 423, a bill by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), to allow energy companies to donate electricity to non-profit organizations.  Under SB 423, non-profits will still pay all normal transmission costs for the energy, so as not to affect other ratepayers, but the organization will receive the energy itself at no cost. 

Simitian noted, “This is a particularly attractive option for energy companies who’d like to help the community – particularly those who have plenty of extra energy but not much extra cash.  Current law just got in the way, though I can’t imagine anyone ever intended to stop this kind of philanthropy.”

Because state law currently prohibits direct-access arrangements between energy providers and energy users, California at present is one of just a handful of states that does not allow gifts of energy to non-profits.  Calpine currently generates energy in excess of its demand in Santa Clara County, and now plans to donate some of that excess energy to local non-profits, including EHC Lifebuilders and Second Harvest Food Bank.  Calpine has a charitable giving arrangement with the Houston Food Bank in Texas and contributes approximately $6,000 worth of energy monthly to keep roughly 150,000 cubic feet of refrigerator and freezer space operational. 

“SB 423 is an important milestone in California law for philanthropy; and particularly for nonprofits assisting seniors, the hungry, and homeless,” said Barry Del Buono, President and CEO of EHC Lifebuilders.  “Electricity gifting fosters creative grant making between non-profit organizations and energy producers.”

“Approval of SB 423 will allow us to receive gifts of free energy just as we are currently able to receive gifts of food, software and hardware.  This comes at a time when fuel costs are near an all-time high and the number of folks needing food is also at a record level,” said Dave Sandretto, Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

“As a long-time supporter of SB 423, Calpine believes this progressive legislation will provide a valuable benefit for non-profit agencies,” said Joe Ronan, Senior Vice President of Calpine Corporation.  “State Senator Joe Simitian, the Emergency Housing Consortium, and the Second Harvest Food Bank are to be commended for making this important legislation a reality.  The next major step lies with the CPUC in implementing this promising energy program.”

Simitian noted, “Something’s seriously out of whack when state law prohibits a gift to the hungry and homeless.  I’m glad we were able to lend a hand.  That’s what government should be about – helping people and solving problems.”

SB 423 takes effect on January 1, 2007.  For more information on SB 423, please visit