California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spent part of his weekend cultivating his need for green speed. On Sunday, he signed a bill that will pump about $125 million annually into alternative fuels and vehicle technology.

The bill, AB 118, gives the California Energy Commission the power to dole out the funds.

The commission's new bankroll will be derived mostly from a $2 vehicle-registration fee increase, which is expected to rack up $65 million, and a $4 smog-abatement fee increase, which will bring in about $45 million.

The bill is evidence of legislative support for Schwarzenegger's efforts to cut green house gases. In 2006, he signed AB 32, which required California to cut carbon-dioxide and other climate-changing emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

On Friday, Schwarzenegger also signed a legislation package that moved California a small step toward becoming greener (see IN BRIEF: Schwarzenegger Signs New Crop of Green Bills for California, California Solar Water Incentive, Take 2).

As of late, other high-level organizations and investors have jumped in with funding to back alternative fuels and vehicle technology.

Google's nonprofit arm plans to invest a total of $10 million in plug-in and electric-car technologies (see Google Leaves Out Clean Diesel, Hydrogen), and the Automotive X Prize said it would fork out $10 million for a production-capable car that exceeds 100 miles per gallon.

Biofuels also have gotten handsome backing from private investors and federal governments (see Biofuels Get Financing Downpour and Are Biofuels Pushing VCs Into a New Role?)

The exact technologies that will be benefit from the bill Schwarzenegger signed Sunday won't be determined for a year or two.

The bill also provides an additional $80 million annually to further improve the state's air quality.

Venture Decline

Venture-capital fund raising slowed in the third quarter, Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association said Monday.

According to the report, 59 venture-capital firms raised $6 billion in the third quarter, compared with 83 funds that closed $9 billion in the second quarter.

Overall fund raising for the year so far also is down compared to last year. From January through September, venture-capital firms raised $20.7 billion, which is 79 percent of the volume raised during the same period last year.

Mark Heesen, president of the venture association, said in a statement that there could be further declines during the next year as VCs switch gears to spending the dollars they've already raised. But he added he expects the number of venture-capital firms raising funds to remain "very stable."

The groups didn't break down the funding by industry, but did say much of the money went to young startups. In the third quarter, 26 early stage-focused funds raised $903.3 million.

Battery Ventures' $750 million fund was the largest raised in the quarter, followed by Bessemer Venture Partners' $625 million fund.

Among Battery Ventures' latest investments is SmartSpark Energy Systems, which snagged Thursday an undisclosed amount of funding to improve solar-panel systems' ability to convert the sun's light into power (see IN BRIEF: Making Solar Smarter).