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 that get customers to cut energy use will be paid [Mercury News]