The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Serena Ingre,

California Approves Biggest Energy Efficiency Program in the Country's History

More than $3 billion investment over next 3 years will provide relief to Californians facing tough economic times


California today approved the biggest utility energy efficiency program in the country's history that will result in lower utility bills, cleaner air for Californians, and move the state a step closer to implementing its landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"This investment in California's clean energy economy is just what we need to create new jobs for our communities and fight global warming pollution," said Lara Ettenson, director of California Energy Efficiency Policy at NRDC. "The total benefits to California's economy will substantially exceed the $3.1 billion in investments."

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved plans by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas to provide $3.1 billion in consumer rebates and other efficiency programs over the next three years. The effort will lower utility bills and provide cleaner air from reduced power plant pollution. The CPUC dedicated its decision to California Energy Commissioner Art Rosenfeld, a fitting tribute for one of the fathers of energy efficiency.

The package includes design and technical assistance for local governments and innovative approaches such as a comprehensive effort to retrofit 130,000 homes, and new construction programs will help new buildings achieve energy savings above California's building code -- already some of the most advanced in the world.

Consumers who purchase energy efficient products will also be eligible for rebates ranging from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars and benefit from lower utility bills from energy savings. A new Web portal will also make it easier for consumers to access tools to reduce energy use.

"At a time when many Californians are struggling to make ends meet, these investments will provide the economic relief we need while meeting our energy demands in a clean, low cost, and efficient way," added Noah Long, energy attorney for NRDC.

The California utilities' energy efficiency programs are a cornerstone of AB 32 and by 2012 are expected to reduce global warming pollution by 3 million tons each year, the equivalent to the emissions from nearly 600,000 cars a year. These portfolios will avoid the need to build at least three large and expensive power plants in the next three years thus significantly reducing pollution while saving Californians money.

NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

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