It’s the Capitol: Public Goods Money Loss Hits Efficiency Programs

By Published On: December 2, 2011

Successful local, regional and utility energy efficiency programs are expected to be harmed by the discontinuation of the public goods funds, according to witnesses at a Dec. 1 hearing of the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy and Regional Strategies for the Green Economy. A number of state laws set clean energy goals, including the 33 percent renewables portfolio mandate, said Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). “We need to have tools to meet those goals,” he added. “It is an understatement to say we were disappointed” by the failure of the Legislature to reauthorize the public goods program “that mitigates climate change and reduces air pollution,” Wieckowski noted. Lawmakers at the end of the last session failed to garner enough votes to continue ratepayer funding of California Energy Commission and California Public Utilities Commission energy efficiency and renewable research and development programs. Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and others touted public goods-funded programs and companies advancing energy efficiency in the state. She added that private funding with its narrow parameters is insufficient to advance the clean energy economy. Howard Choy, County of Los Angeles Office of Sustainability general manager, said the public goods funds complimented regional and federal funding directed at energy efficiency upgrades at 400 county buildings in Los Angeles. That, he said, produced $170 million in savings. He warned that the loss of public goods money would impact the statewide public-private energy efficiency program, California Energy Upgrade. He and others noted the importance of leveraging the public goods money to further energy savings. “Don’t expect the public goods charge to be sole source of funding,” Choy said. “It must be complemented by other resources.” According to a study by University of California, Berkeley, Don Vial Center, energy efficiency investments produce 24,500 direct and indirect jobs for every $1 billion invested.

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