Utilities With Successful Conservation Campaigns To Collect Government Cash

California utilities may soon unveil new conservation campaigns thanks to an innovative plan unveiled last week by regulators. Under the plan, the Public Utilities Commission will set three-year efficiency targets. Utilities that meet at least 85% of the targets stand to collect rewards of up to $323 million. Utilities that fail to meet 65% of the targets could face penalties worth $500 million.

The PUC forecasts that the program would result in $2.4 billion in energy savings before 2008 and would cut about 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide from California’s air.

Proponents, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, describe the plan as bold and precedent-setting.

The plan “is a common-sense approach that rewards utilities if they do a good job helping consumers save energy,” Audrey Chang, an NRDC staff scientist, said in a statement.

Utilities now have meaty incentives to help residents lower their energy use, and by extension, their energy bills. For ways to save energy, check out a few of our past suggestions.

Utilities that get customers to cut energy use will be paid [Mercury News]
(Photo: tifotter)

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  1. FLConsumer says:

    Dumb question, Why not hand this money out directly to consumers through the form of rebates for energy efficiency improvements to their homes?

  2. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @FLConsumer: The feds are doing that already. I don’t know how well it’s working.

  3. TeraGram says:

    Here’s what’ll happen.

    The electricity producers and distributors will make more money. They will then claim increased costs of doing business and demand another rate increase. The CPUC will then roll over and not only give it to them, they’ll suggest the increase be a little bigger so they can hold out for 10 months instead of 6 between rate hikes.

    Some where in the middle of all that, SoCalEd and PG&E will mail out beautiful, glossy multi-page, thick-stock brochures, leaflets and fridge magnets touting their improved delivery systems, possibly even hinting at rebates. These rebates will prove to be impossible for the average family to redeem. None-the-less, the mailings will continue every other month until the end of time.

    Ayup. That’s how it works out here.

  4. FLConsumer says:

    @TeraGram: That’s precisely why I don’t want it going to the power co’s.

  5. @FLConsumer: Many states have some form of tax writeoff, property tax increase protection, rebate, or other program for installation of various kinds of energy-saving things or alternative-energy things.

    There’s a really good link that comprehensively lists state and federal programs that I think has been posted here before, but here it is: [www.dsireusa.org]

    My favorite one here (IL) is that alternative energy improvements to residential property that increase property value are exempt from assessment for property tax purposes, or cause the increase to be taxed at a much lower rate than the rest of your property tax.