A merger between energy and water efficiency programs depends upon the outcome of a California Public Utilities Commission rulemaking initiated Dec. 18. Under the rulemaking, regulators envision joint programs that save both water and energy between the state’s investor-owned energy utilities and both private and public water utilities. California Energy Commission data show water use consumes about 20 percent of the state’s electricity. The goal of the proceeding, said commissioner Mark Ferron, is “to create a framework to make more holistic choices.” He noted that moving, treating, and heating water is the single largest use of electricity in California. Commissioner Mike Florio said the rulemaking could result in savings for Californians—both on electricity and water bills. The commission plans to explore energy-water efficiency measures that don’t conflict with existing state energy efficiency programs. It also plans to develop ways to measure the energy savings inherent in saving water. The goal of the rulemaking, according to the CPUC, is to develop “water-energy programs that can be seamlessly integrated with the existing methods and process for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed generation programs.” The rulemaking comes after years of efforts to develop joint energy-water saving programs under the commission’s water action plan initiated in 2005. The plan has yielded some results and established a “ground work,” according to the commission, which regulators now hope to build upon. Ferron said the rulemaking should foster greater cooperation between the energy and water industries and create “a broader view” of the relationship between the two resources.