SAN FRANCISCO (July 31, 2008) –The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today unanimously approved aggressive new energy efficiency goals through 2020 for the state’s investor owned utilities. The decision will save energy, save customers money on their utility bills, reduce air pollution and help California implement its landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
“California is world renowned for its energy efficiency leadership,” said Audrey Chang, director of NRDC’s California climate program. “Today’s action ensures that Californians will continue to reap the benefits of one of the fastest, cheapest, cleanest ways to meet our energy needs, namely energy efficiency.”
The energy efficiency goals adopted by the CPUC will work in tandem with the California Air Resources Board’s global warming pollution reduction targets under AB 32. At least 11 percent of the state’s total heat-trapping pollution reductions are expected to be achieved through energy efficiency. The majority of these energy efficiency reductions will come from the CPUC energy savings goals adopted today for the investor-owned utilities’ service territories, to be accomplished through a combination of utility programs and strengthened building and appliance standards.
The energy efficiency targets will have the practical, on-the-ground effect of avoiding the need to build twelve giant power plants and reducing pollution equivalent to the emissions produced by 2.4 million cars by 2020. NRDC estimates these electricity and natural gas savings will bolster the state’s economy by providing at least $7 billion in net benefits through 2020 from energy bill savings and the avoided costs of building new infrastructure.
“Part of the genius of California’s energy policy is that utilities must use energy efficiency as the first energy resource to meet demand before building more power plants or purchasing additional energy from fossil fuel sources. This is a tried and true method,” said Chang. “The Public Utilities Commission under the leadership of Commissioner Grueneich should be commended for making the most of this highly effective tool.”