One month after a wildfire came close to crisping The Geysers geothermal complex, Pacific Gas & Electric credits demand-response and conservation with playing a key role in shielding the region from blackouts. While official California Public Utilities Commission audits of the cost-effectiveness of utilities? energy-efficiency campaigns are a year away, PG&E and Southern California Edison say energy-efficiency programs are racking up significant energy savings this year. ?We believe the conservation effort by businesses helped to avert rotating outages? as a result of the Geysers fire, said Christy Dennis, PG&E spokesperson. In a paid demand-response program, businesses dropped up to a total of 50 MW\/day for three days running in September. While voicing the common refrain that conservation?s results are hard to quantify, Dennis noted that the state is making strides in improving its ability to measure energy savings. One such effort, a pilot program run by the utilities called the Advanced Metering Initiative, should yield numbers on the conservation and energy-efficiency side in about a month, according to Dennis. As for efficiency programs, PG&E and SDG&E report that residential customer rebates for installation of energy-efficient appliances are a big hit this year. In fact, such rebates account for a major portion of PG&E?s energy reductions this year. After the California Public Utilities Commission awarded the program additional funding, PG&E reopened its rebate program in September after shutting it down in July, citing fund depletion. According to reports filed with the commission, PG&E?s residential programs have achieved 139 million kWh in energy savings so far this year, or 66 percent of annual goals. This number is low, since lighting is the biggest energy saver and the fall lighting sale is under way, explained Dennis. Results on the natural gas side are much stronger, with efficiency programs accounting for 4 million therms, or 128 percent of annual goals. On the commercial side, PG&E calculates savings of 134 million kWh, or 68 percent of annual goals, and 11 million therms, representing 313 percent of annual targets. The large savings in this arena are due to the Savings by Design program, which provides incentives for efficient design and construction projects. According to Don Arambula, Edison project manager, Edison?s energy-efficiency programs achieved savings of more than 671 million kWh this year, or about 88 percent of annual energy savings targets set by the CPUC. By contrast, SDG&E saved 156 million kWh, which represents 16 percent of its annual energy savings goals, according to Peter Hidalgo, SDG&E spokesperson. Compared to other utility goals, the number seemed high, but Hidalgo added that the utility is confident it would reach its 100 percent target for the 2004-05 program cycle. Commercial customers tend to take longer to make investment decisions on efficient appliances, he explained. SDG&E has even gone to the extent of asking for additional funding on the gas side, Hidalgo noted.