The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved on September 23 a plan that quantifies energy-efficiency savings goals but does not link them to program funding levels. These efforts are projected to meet 55 to 59 percent of investor-owned utilities? increased energy needs over the next decade. IOUs will have to reflect regulators? resource planning goals. Without these targets, utilities ?would probably have to build ten power plants,? calculated commissioner Susan Kennedy. Instead, she said, there will likely be a need for only five additional plants. The decision is part and parcel of taking the state?s Energy Action Plan seriously, according to CPUC president Mike Peevey. ?Efficiency?s a higher priority than it was a couple years ago,? he said. He added that energy agencies are trying to find ?every conceivable way to achieve? the action plan?s efficiency goals. On the natural gas side, the goals represent a 116 percent increase in expected savings over the next decade. Despite policy, however, natural gas program funding has dropped significantly in the last five years, and meeting targets ?may take more time than on the electric side,? notes the CPUC. In the area of innovation, natural gas energy-efficiency programs have lagged behind electricity programs, according to commissioner Loretta Lynch. ?We can and should do better,? she said. Though investor-owned utilities tout their commitment to efficiency programs, electricity savings forecasts presented in long-term procurement plans by Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric were rejected on grounds that they are considerably below maximum achievable savings estimates in studies informing the plan. ?I applaud the CPUC for setting [these] goals. The higher the goals the better,? said Wally McGuire, Flex Your Power campaign coordinator, before the vote. Edison administers the Flex Your Power campaign. The adopted goals will be updated every three years, to mesh with the three-year planning and funding cycle for energy efficiency. On a split vote, the CPUC made recommendations on administration of the defunct California Power Authority?s demand reserves partnership program, which compensates customers who reduce peak consumption. Utilities and the Department of Water Resources have not reached agreement on utilities? plans to assume oversight of the program. Lynch accused DWR of padding its 2004 efficiency requirement, saying the agency requested $29 million but less than half of that has been used. At the last commission meeting, she castigated the department for overstating its revenue requirement in another proceeding. Along with commissioner Carl Wood, she voted down the recommendations. In other news, commissioner Susan Kennedy was all aflutter about bark beetle infestation afflicting trees in Edison?s transmission territory. Kennedy expressed concern that the critters have been migrating. Kennedy?s interest flared after Paul Clanon, Energy Division director, reported that the utility has removed 100,000 trees because of infestation near transmission lines. Kennedy argued that Edison should get roughly $18 million for its bark beetle battle even though about $500,000 of those funds could come from the general rate case pot. Colleagues were not convinced, and the utility was allotted about $17.5 million.