State approves $830M to help keep lights on
Sac Bee's DALE KASLER: "Responding to the controversial deliberate blackouts that left hundreds of thousands of Californians in the dark last fall, state regulators have approved $830 million worth of incentives to help residents and small businesses buy advanced batteries and other energy storage technologies to keep the lights on."
"The incentive program, approved Thursday by the Public Utilities Commission, will be funded by ratepayers of PG&E Corp. and the state’s other investor-owned utilities."
"Utility-funded incentives for “self-generation” have been in place since 2001 but were due to expire. A pair of laws, SB 700 in 2008 and AB 1144 in 2019, extend the program through 2024."
California braces for slowdown: What state budget, new regulations could mean
The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID: "Lenny Mendonca is chief economic and business adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz."
"Mendonca, an economist and former chair of the Bay Area Council, discussed the jobs and economy aspects of the governor’s proposed $222 billion state budget for 2020-21. The Legislature has until June 15 to approve a budget; typically that comes only after months of negotiation. This interview has been edited for length and clarity."
Free tuition at California public colleges helped the state prosper. There’s no reason it can’t again
From the LAT's GEORGE SKELTON: "It wouldn’t be “free college” for all — no one anywhere is proposing that — but a state university diploma could become more affordable for many California students."
"Under a new law, full-time community college students are already excused from paying course fees of $46 per unit. That’s good for both their freshman and sophomore years. The next logical step is for those students to receive two more years of tuition-free education if they transfer to a California state university."
"Bottom line: California residents could obtain a CSU bachelor’s degree after four years without paying a dime in course fees or tuition. Of course, they’d still have to fork out thousands for room, board and books. So there’d be no “free college.”
Bay Area megaprojects fail to deliver on big housing promises
The Chronicle's J.K. DINEEN: "San Francisco lawmakers approved three historic, neighborhood-transforming redevelopment proposals during the 12 months leading up to summer 2011."
"First there was the rebirth of the Hunters Point Shipyard. Along with the redevelopment of the adjacent Candlestick Point, it promised to inject 12,000 housing units and thousands of jobs into an impoverished corner of the city."
"Next came Treasure Island, a vision to plunk down a new neighborhood smack in the middle of the bay with 8,000 homes, along with hotels, shops, waterfront parks and rapid ferries whisking residents to the Embarcadero."
Nunes aide texted repeatedly with Giuliani ally investigating Biden, documents show
Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "An aide to Rep. Devin Nunes exchanged dozens of text messages with indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas about a search for information on former Vice President Joe Biden from Ukrainian prosecutors, according to documents House Democrats released Friday evening."
"The exchanges include repeated references by Nunes aide Derek Harvey and Parnas to Biden. Parnas allegedly helped carry out President Donald Trump’s campaign to pressure the Ukrainian government for investigations that would benefit Trump’s re-election."
"The release adds to questions about the role Nunes played in efforts central to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump."
READ MORE related to Nunes' Conflict of Interest: Who is Nunes' aide caught up in Ukraine texts, and will they hurt his boss? -- Sac Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW/SOPHIA BOLLAG
Time's Up on Groundwater Plans: One of the Most Important New California Water Laws in 50 Years Explained
From KQED's MOLLY PETERSON: "Much of California’s water supply is a hidden asset: Deep below the surface, rocks, gravel and sand store water like a sponge, in an underground zone called an aquifer."
"In dry years, this groundwater has been tapped to save farms, keep grass green and provide drinking water to millions of Californians. But over time, people have taken more water out than nature has put back in. Estimates vary, but according to the U.S. Geological Survey, California pumped 41 trillion gallons of water fom the ground in about 100 years, through 2013. In some parts of the Central Valley, that means land has been dropping around a foot a year."
"The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state's thirstiest areas form local "Groundwater Sustainability Agencies" and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn, and a collective picture emerges. It's a major shift and arguably the most important new California water law in 50 years."
Bloomberg-curious in California wonder if he's the one who could beat Trump
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Many of the 150 people who filled an Oakland restaurant Friday to see former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg were like Tria Cohn: She was Bloomberg curious."
"The San Francisco copywriter’s favorite Democratic presidential candidates are Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. But, she said, “the electability question comes up. I don’t know if they can beat (President) Trump."
"It is the question that nags at many Democrats and other never-Trumpers less than three weeks before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, which happen the same day early voting begins in California."
49ers going to the Super Bowl
Sac Bee's CAMERON SALERNO: "The San Francisco 49ers thoroughly dominated the first half of Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers and held on to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. They can thank Raheem Mostert and Nick Bosa for that. Bosa and his defensive teammates dominated the first half and Mostert had more than 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns 37-20. Richard Sherman capped the win with an interception of a long Aaron Rodgers pass with 1:48 remaining to finish the game."
"It wasn’t without a little scare in the fourth quarter. The Packers scored a pair of touchdowns to get within two touchdowns with 8:13 remaining."
"First, Rodgers completed a 42-yard pass to Jimmy Graham to open the quarter, which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones. The Packers went for a two-point conversion but failed to make it 34-13 with 14:35 left."
READ MORE related to Super Bowl: Raheem Mostert's epic game caps rise from 49ers' fourth string to record books -- The Chronicle's ANN KILLION
In SF, Pelosi calls on supporters for unity amid impeachment controversy
The Chronicle's TATIANA SANCHEZ: "Talks of impeachment, the 49ers and the magic of San Francisco were all on the table Sunday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed more than 700 supporters at the Golden Gate Club."
"Pelosi held her annual new year event in the Presidio to thank local supporters, focusing her 20-minute speech on the future of Democrats in the White House, the importance of moving forward as a united country and the impeachment of President Trump."
"The House of Representatives last week forwarded two articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, kicking off a trial that will continue Tuesday."
Key housing bill's chances of passing just improved dramatically
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "State Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill to clear a path for denser housing around public transit and in wealthy suburbs got a big push forward Friday when the Senate’s leader steered it out of the committee where it stalled last year."
"Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said she moved SB50 out of the Appropriations Committee, whose chairman, Democratic Sen. Anthony Portantino, blocked it in 2019 and gave a frosty reception to the amended version that Wiener is now proposing."
"Atkins sent the bill to the Rules Committee, where it could advance directly to a Senate floor vote before a deadline for passage at the end of the month. She said the decision would give Wiener, D-San Francisco, more time to negotiate with the bill’s opponents, who say it takes away local governments’ control over how their communities develop."
Officer shoots and kills man after mistaking a bicycle part for a gun, LA cops say
Sac Bee's DON SWEENEY: "A Los Angeles police sergeant responding to reports of someone with a firearm Jan. 11 thought a man had pointed a gun at him, so he opened fire and killed him, police say."
"But the object in the man’s hand was actually a bicycle part, the Los Angeles Police Department says in a release. The agency posted a photo of the handgun-shaped part Friday on Twitter."
"A witness to the shooting also initially mistook the object for a gun, police said."
A new development in the Kristin Smart case? Her mother says FBI told her to 'be ready'
Sac Bee's MATT FOUNTAIN: "The mother of missing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart — who disappeared 23 years ago — says there may be a development in the case soon."
"Denise Smart, of Stockton, told the Stockton Record that she was recently contacted by the FBI, which is investigating Kristin’s 1996 disappearance along with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, and told to prepare herself and her family for “a development,” according to the newspaper."
"Denise said she was told by authorities, ‘Be ready. This is really going to be something you don’t expect. We want to give you the support you need,’” according to the article, published online Saturday."