California's Energy Efficiency Success Story: Saving Billions of Dollars and Curbing Tons of Pollution

Fact Sheet
March 20, 2014

California's long, bipartisan history of promoting energy efficiency -- America's cheapest and cleanest energy resource -- has saved Golden State residents more than $65 billion, helped lower their residential electricity bills to 25 percent below the national average, and contributed to the state's continuing leadership in creating green jobs.

These achievements, which began in the 1970s and continued under both Democratic and Republican leadership, have helped California avoid at least 30 power plants and as much climate-warming carbon pollution as is spewed from 5 million cars annually. This sustained commitment has made California a nationally recognized leader in reducing energy consumption, improving its residents' quality of life, and supporting a more productive economy.

Even with the magnitude of energy bill and pollution savings due to the state's various energy efficiency programs and codes and standards, our new fact sheet, Scaling Up California's Energy Efficiency to Save Money and Reduce Pollution, shows there are more ways that California's state agencies and the legislature can take advantage of this positive momentum to capture even more savings going forward.

Although some of California's flat per capita electricity consumption may be attributed to factors independent of energy policy (such as more people per household, on average), the simple truth is this: Efficiency policies that produce more energy-saving technologies work. California has reaped substantial energy-savings benefits thanks to policies that can be easily adopted elsewhere: more research and development of new technologies, utility programs to help consumers lower their bills, and minimum standards that ensure new buildings and appliances are not energy guzzlers.

Enormous potential still remains to save energy more cheaply than it can be produced. In California alone, studies have identified opportunities over the coming decade that could keep more than 10 new power plants from being built, saving utility customers billions and helping to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels as required by the state's Global Warming Solutions Act. California's success story demonstrates that efficiency policies work, saving billions of dollars and curbing tons of pollution.