Regulators Call for Improved Water-Energy Savings

By Published On: January 18, 2013

Reflecting the true costs of water in utility bills would lead to joint water and energy efficiencies, according to a California Public Utilities Commission report released Jan. 16. “Embedded resource costs should be fully reflected in the prices of the delivered service,” recommends the report. According to the California Energy Commission, nearly 20 percent of the state’s energy is used to move, treat, and heat water across California. Saving resources and reducing associated emissions in both the energy and water sectors is the goal of the study, but it’s hampered by California’s diverse topography, climate, and location of water resources. California’s arid climate and mountain ranges separating water sources from water users result in “inherently high” energy costs for water, concludes the report. “When you water your lawn it does not matter if the water was pumped over the Tehachapi [mountains] and has high-energy content or if it was supplied though [a] gravity feed system and has no energy content,” according to the commission. The report’s recommendations include: -Using information about the energy savings potential “to make better choices about how to use water and when to invest in water technology;” -Developing policies that inform consumers of the real time cost of water and having those costs reflected in water bills; and, -Developing reporting standards and assigning an entity or entities to manage and enforce standards to align efforts. Regulators’ desired result is a “new opportunity to use information about the extent of the energy savings potential to make better choices about how to use water and when to invest in water technology.”

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