While there are many areas of energy where
This means that the important issues surrounding California energy policy are now being decided by the California Public Utility Commission; the CA Energy Commission; the CA EPA; the California Legislature; the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency; the Resources Agency; the State and Consumer Services Agency; the California Independent System Operator (CAISO); the CA Investor Owned Utilities (IOU); the CA municipal utilities; the state consumer groups; the state environmental groups like the Natural Resource Defense Council; Governor Schwarzenegger and his Cabinet; the California Climate Registry; the California Lighting Technology Center; the CA educational community; and, the private sector without the usual politicization. In addition, the well-respected Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory has provided analysis, information, research studies and policy recommendations to
There are several reasons for this development. However, the over-riding fact is that
There is a “perfect storm” of forces that have helped create this new spirit of cooperation. The single most important reason for the sanity of energy policy in
With apologies to those not mentioned, some obvious names and their credentials come to mind: Mike Peevey, President of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and 2005 Charles H. Percy Award winner; Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld, Commissioner of California Energy Commission and co-founder of the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), the University of California's Institute for Energy Efficiency (CIEE), and the Washington-based Center for Energy and Climate Solutions (CECS); Joe Desmond, Chairman of the California Energy Commission and former energy consultant; Susan Kennedy, a Commissioner of CPUC and a director of CA “Flex Your Power” campaign credited with saving 4,000 megawatts of electricity during California’s energy crisis; Dian Grueneich, a Commissioner of the CPUC with more than 25 years of experience in energy efficiency and environmental policy and law; Diane Wittenberg, President of California Climate Action Registry; Dr. Sev Borenstein, Director of the University of California Energy Institute; Dr. Michael Siminovitch, Director of California Lighting Technology Center; Gene Rodriquez, Director of Energy Efficiency for Southern California Edison Company and nationally known speaker for energy efficiency; and Sheryl Carter, Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) Director of Western Energy Programs and Devra Wang, NRDC’s staff scientist.
Certainly, it is worth reviewing how California has been able to accomplish so much including the completion of the Energy Action Plan II, whose “overarching goal was for California’s energy to be adequate, affordable, technologically advanced and environmentally-sound.”
First, some of the sacred cows of energy and energy policy had to be amended. In the case of public benefits for electricity, free-ridership (i.e. providing a rebate for products or services that the customer would buy anyway) is still tracked but it does not hinder achievable energy efficiency savings. In essence,
In addition, California is using a two-pronged attack to distribute rebates for energy efficiency, with a combination of utility administered public benefits programs and energy efficiency procurement programs mandated by the CPUC and run by the utilities are both being used to reduce overall electrical consumption. The other benefits of these energy efficiency programs are that they come with technical and design assistance along with energy education and product information. In fact, it could be argued that this combined approach is more powerful than either program is alone, especially now that the resulting energy savings can be strictly measured and verified.
Finally, other innovations proposed in the Energy Action Plan are as follows:
- allowing utilities the same return-on-investment for energy efficiency, demand response and new power plants using a shared savings formula;
- integrating energy efficiency programs with demand response programs so that there are no disincentives for doing both;
transforming Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D) projects into energy efficiency tools and standards;
- restructuring the IOU rate-making process to reduce the number of proceedings, create more transparency, adopt rates based on clear cost-causation principles and identify opportunities to reduce electricity costs;
-creating a sense of regulatory certainty and a long-term planning process capable of flexibility.
Combining economic development and environmental stewardship,
About the author:
Stephen Heins is the vice president of corporate communication for Orion Energy Services. For more information, visit www.oriones.com.