California's investor-owned utilities are now exceeding targets set in their $2 billion program to increase energy efficiency, but state regulators want them to develop far bolder energy-saving strategies to spur grid reliability and cut customer costs. "Some bigger vision of where we go with energy efficiency in California" is needed, said Jeanne Clinton, California Public Utilities Commission clean energy adviser, at a May 3-4 workshop. The commission held the meeting to begin updating utility energy-efficiency programs for a new three-year cycle that begins in 2009. Clinton said that the commission is looking for measures that go "beyond the CPUC's" authorization of funding. She asked investor-owned utilities to look at the "broader California market and broader West Coast." She said the commission's goal is to pick four strategies that advance utility energy-efficiency programs, as well as market mechanisms, codes and standards, and emerging greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs. CPUC member Dian Grueneich suggested some "big bold strategies" in a scoping memo for the proceeding. They include lighting, residential construction and remodeling, commercial buildings, gas water heaters, and air conditioning retrofit or replacements, as well as other efforts. The call for greater savings comes amid self-reported data showing that utilities are exceeding their cumulative energy-efficiency goal. This comes after a big increase in funding for the first year of the current 2006-08 program cycle, for which the CPUC authorized $2 billion. The cumulative savings goal from 2004 through 2006 is 5,626 GWh. Earlier, however, regulated utilities all fell well short of their conservation targets (Circuit, June 9, 2006). Pacific Gas and Electric saved 2,537 GWh as of last year, compared to a target of 2,317 GWh, bringing it 9.5 percent above its goal, Rachel Harcharik, Itron consultant, told the CPUC. Southern California Edison saved 2,960 GWh, exceeding its 2,574 GWh target by 15 percent. San Diego Gas & Electric missed its target with only 735 GWh of savings, falling short of its 817 GWh target by 10 percent. The Utility Reform Network was not impressed. It said that as much as 48,000 GWh of conservation is attainable with economical technologies. It added that up to 60,000 GWh of savings is possible, though that would require using some uneconomical technologies. However, the difference between what could be achieved economically and what has actually occurred in the market to date is "so stark," according to TURN, that a different utility energy-efficiency program design and longer-term market strategies must be considered. The state consumer representative, the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, called for government programs to require that all new commercial buildings be certified as Leadership in Environment and Energy Development structures. Energy codes should be more strictly enforced too, the division urged. The division further said that compact fluorescent lights "have made a successful transition into the marketplace," so that new lighting strategies should aim for greater energy savings. The California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition called for the CPUC to incorporate increased efficiency in vehicle fuel use into energy-efficiency programs. Efforts to increase efficiency in electricity use are reaching the point of "diminishing incremental returns," it said in May 9 comments filed with the CPUC. However, there is ample room to spur efficiency in transportation, the coalition said. PG&E suggested creating energy-efficient communities through new guidelines and incentives. The goal would be that all new buildings exceed current state building energy-efficiency standards by at least 35 percent. Zero-energy\/zero-carbon buildings also would be encouraged. The CPUC will hold a workshop on energy-efficiency strategies May 14. The agency's staff hopes to present updated energy-efficiency goals and requirements for utilities to the commission for adoption in September, Clinton said.