Shifting energy efficiency emphasis from rebates on \u201cwidgets\u201d to building standards, the California Public Utilities Commission approved $3.1 billion in ratepayer-funded efficiency programs covering 2010-12. This is up from the $2.2 billion program approved for the investor-owned utilities\u2019 2006-08 efficiency program cycle. \u201cIt\u2019s a paradigm shift,\u201d commissioner Dian Grueneich, the presiding member, said of the September 24 decision. \u201cIt moves away from rebates to sustainable savings in building,\u201d she explained at the September 24 meeting. \u201cIt\u2019s more than simply providing rebates for the latest and greatest widget,\u201d according to commission president Mike Peevey. Included in the funding is $900 million for residential energy measures. Under that, there is the California Statewide Program for Residential Energy Efficiency (SPREE) providing subsidies for appliance rebates, smart meter controls, and air conditioning. Under the SPREE program, the Home Energy Efficiency Survey (HEES) seeks \u201cbehavioral solutions\u201d through outreach programs. The Home Energy Efficiency Rebate (HEER) program is aimed at helping residents pay for the costs of \u201ccomprehensive energy efficiency measures.\u201d Other programs include ones to be promoted by local governments. The commission also noted that a program aimed at industrial efficiency is expected to reap negawatts. \u201cThey\u2019ve certainly got enough money to do it right,\u201d noted Mindy Spatt, The Utility Reform Network spokesperson. She said that consumers\u2019 arguments for less reliance on compact fluorescents, more residential retrofits, and a cap on administrative costs \u201cwill prevent energy efficiency funding from continuing to be a slush fund for utilities.\u201d In the prior triennial efficiency funding cycle, money was largely spent to entreat consumers to swap out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents. Commissioners noted this week that the lighting market for efficiency is basically tapped out. To protect ratepayers\u2019 investments, Grueneich noted that the decision caps investor-owned utilities\u2019 administrative costs to 10 percent of the portfolio. There are also caps on outreach marketing and the CPUC\u2019s own evaluation and verification enforcement of the program\u2019s spending at 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively. According to Grueneich, the program would \u201cavoid\u201d 3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. She said it would also keep 1,500 MW of new power plants from being built and conserve 150 million therms of natural gas. An expected 15,000-18,000 jobs would be created, according to regulators. Some of the details in what commissioner Rachelle Chong called the $3.1 billion \u201cWar & Peace\u201d decision include: -$2.9 billion for 2010 to 2012 primarily for energy savings in homes and other buildings; and -$200 million in bridge funding for 2009, which represents an 11 percent increase. The commission divided up the $3.1 billion among the utilities as follows: -$1.2 billion for Southern California Edison, representing a $397 million increase; -$1.3 billion for Pacific Gas & Electric, representing a $248 million increase; -$278 million for San Diego Gas & Electric, representing a $13 million decrease; and -$285 million for SoCal Gas, representing a $95 million increase. Although far higher than the last round of funding, the commission noted that the final number represented 20 percent less than what utilities requested (Circuit, Aug. 28, 2009). In other regulatory moves, the commission approved $124 million in refunds to San Diego Gas & Electric ratepayers due to utility over collection. SDG&E is set to grant the refund through a one-time bill credit. The one-time credit is an aberration from historical refunds--which previously were amortized over a year. SDG&E\u2019s collections have been accumulating in a regulatory \u201cbalancing fund.\u201d The balancing fund, where the money resides until accounts are trued up, shows fuel and power purchase income against actual costs. Also, while PG&E owns its own multi-dam Feather River project--on the North Fork of the river--it was approved to buy power for 10 years from the South Feather Water & Power Authority. Of the four dams, two qualify as for renewable energy credit and two don\u2019t. This contract is subsequent to a 50-year agreement that terminates next year.