More Energy-Efficiency Funds on the Way

By Published On: February 28, 2004

On a trademark split vote, the California Public Utilities Commission gave the green light on February 26 to $71 million in additional energy-efficiency funds over the next two years. The decision allocates $67 million that had been put on hold to allow the CPUC to reevaluate 16 programs and funnels $4.47 million of PG&E?s unspent energy-efficiency funds from last year to adopted programs. Reevaluating certain programs ?opened the door to political lobbying,? commissioner Susan Kennedy asserted. Kennedy called a competing plan a ?colossal waste of time and resources.? That unadopted alternate decision by commissioner Loretta Lynch contained a provision that would have opened a new phase of the energy-efficiency case to evaluate program administration. Lynch said the commission?s orders ?inflated? utility marketing and information budgets by $8 million by transferring PG&E?s unspent funds. Commissioner Carl Wood cast a minority vote in favor of Lynch?s plan. Apparently feeling accumulating strain, Lynch later broke into tears while discussing a telecommunications case in which she claimed that public-access rules were violated. Allotting ratepayer money for energy efficiency became a matter of controversy between utilities and third-party efficiency promoters. Third parties alleged they could do a more efficient job. Utilities wanted to administer the funds, arguing they already had access to customers and had other infrastructure in place. Overall, the CPUC has approved a whopping $507 million in energy-efficiency funds through public-goods charge funds for 2004-05. An additional $245 million in energy-efficiency funding has been approved to offset investor-owned utilities? power purchases. Also at the meeting, Southern California Gas shareholders were awarded $6.3 million through a performance-based ratemaking mechanism that rewards shareholders and ratepayers when SoCal Gas makes thrifty gas purchases.

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