$2 Billion Investment Will Provide Relief to Consumers Facing High Bills This Winter

SAN FRANCISCO (September 22, 2005) -- Californians facing another winter of high heating bills can save money by taking advantage of the biggest energy efficiency program in state history. Today the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved unanimously 4-0 utilities' plans to provide $2 billion in consumer rebates and other efficiency incentives over the next three years. In addition to lower bills, utility customers -- and all Californians -- will enjoy the clean air benefits of reduced power plant pollution, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"The net benefit to California's economy will be nearly $3 billion," said Devra Wang, NRDC staff scientist. "That's a 150 percent return on investment for consumers. Anyone who could do the same in the stock market would make the cover of Fortune magazine.

"Every year the new program will avert the need to build another giant power plant, at half the cost and without the pollution," Wang continued. "California is proving, once again, that efficiency is the fastest, cheapest, cleanest way to meet our energy needs."

Under the program consumers who purchase energy efficient appliances like air conditioners, clothes washers, furnaces and water heaters will be eligible for rebates ranging from $35 to more than $600. In addition to the instant cash, consumers will see lower bills because efficient appliances use less energy. The rebates will vary depending on each of the state's investor owned utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas.

Consumers can see a full list of available rebates by visiting or their local utilities' websites.

"California is an undisputed world leader in energy efficiency," said Wang. "By getting more work out of the same amount of energy, this program will put more cash in Californians' pocketbooks and less pollution in the air we breathe."

Market analysts predict that home heating costs this winter will skyrocket because Hurricane Katrina damaged Gulf Coast oil and gas operations, disrupting a major source of the nation's natural gas supply. Electricity costs in California also will rise because most of the state's power plants run on natural gas.

The utilities' energy efficiency investments are a cornerstone of Governor Schwarzenegger's plan to reduce global warming pollution while strengthening the state's economy. The efficiency programs will reduce carbon dioxide emissions -- the major cause of global warming--by more than 3 million tons in just three years, equivalent to taking 650,000 cars off the road by 2008. They also will bolster the state's economy by providing nearly $3 billion in net benefits from energy savings and the avoided costs of building new infrastructure.

The plan approved today also includes incentives and design assistance for construction of green buildings that incorporate high performance energy efficiency technologies, as well as renewable generation, water conservation, transportation efficiency and waste reduction strategies. It will help the state meet the governor's goal for all new state buildings to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. (See

"NRDC applauds the Public Utilities Commission, and in particular Commissioner Kennedy, for its leadership on energy efficiency," said Wang. "This is yet another illustration of the commission's commitment to lowering customers' energy bills and protecting the environment."