San Diego Gas & Electric unveiled new energy-efficiency measures it hopes to roll out in 2006. The announcement came March 28?the same day the California Public Utilities Commission put on hold a plan to encourage energy conservation this summer under a critical peak-pricing strategy. Under its draft energy-efficiency plan, the utility seeks to include emerging technologies in new homes and buildings. It also offers its customers financing for energy-efficient appliances and technologies. Energy efficiency is particularly important in San Diego County because of its fast growth and tight electricity supply attributable to ongoing transmission constraints. The CPUC has placed investor-owned utilities squarely at the helm of energy-efficiency programs, in place of independent administrators and local governments. To develop its energy-efficiency plan, SDG&E put together a public advisory group of customers, academics, and environmental groups to determine what measures will work best in its unique service territory. ?That?s going to be key to whether the program is successful,? said Stephanie Donovan, a spokesperson for the company. The utility plans to emphasize greater use of emerging technologies in new homes and buildings, such as light-emitting diodes, solar water heating, tankless water heaters, cool roofs, and advanced lighting controls. The draft plan also seeks to expand point-of-purchase rebates for consumers and upstream rebates to retailers and manufacturers for energy-efficient appliances. The Utility Consumers? Action Network plans to ?scour the country? for energy-efficiency measures that might be applicable in San Diego, said Michael Shames, UCAN executive director, who is a member of the utility?s advisory group. ?It?s mostly a continuation of the tried and true, which may not be a bad thing,? Shames said. He added that of the five or six new promising programs, ?the most ambitious? may be the one known as on-bill financing. Under this financing proposal, SDG&E would loan money to customers who otherwise could not purchase energy-efficient appliances, according to Donovan. While the details have yet to be worked out, she said the utility envisions starting on-bill financing as a pilot program and expanding it if it proves successful. SDG&E had planned to cut its peak load this summer by up to 28 MW through critical peak pricing (<i>Circuit<\/i>, Jan. 28, 2005). The utility had proposed a peak-pricing plan that was revenue neutral but would charge significantly higher prices on the days with the highest electricity demand to encourage customers to turn off air conditioners and reduce their energy use during peak periods. However, that appears to be on hold under a proposed decision. Administrative law judge Michelle Cooke said there is insufficient time to employ critical peak pricing this summer. She recommended that peak pricing be included in a comprehensive rate design for 2006 and 2007.