California Governor Signs Landmark Energy Efficiency Laws

Governor Brown signed three bills into law this year that are changing the way California uses energy, and unfurling new opportunities for commercial and industrial energy consumers both small and large.

The Governor articulated his energy policy in his fourth inaugural address in January of this year: to increase electricity from renewable sources by 50%, to increase energy efficiency in existing buildings by 50%, and to decrease petroleum use in the transportation sector by 50%.

However, the Governor only ultimately prevailed in securing two of his three goals; the transportation piece was severed from the bill.  What remains in SB350 still promises to advance the renewable and energy efficiency services in the state to new highs.

Specifically, for energy efficiency, the Bill would double current energy efficiency savings in the state, not just for existing buildings, but across the board, by 2030.  The Bill requires the Energy Commission, in consultation with the Public Utilities Commission, to establish annual energy efficiency and demand reduction goals by November 2017.  The Bill also identifies various measures that will count toward those energy efficiency savings, including retro-commissioning, operational and behavioral energy efficiency.

Smaller energy users will soon have incentives to acquire energy management technologies that leverage their energy information to allow for smarter energy management.  AB 793 requires utilities to develop programs to provide incentives to small and medium enterprises to acquire energy management technologies.  The energy management technologies discussed could be products, services or software that provides information and education to consumers about their energy use and ways to better manage it.  Utilities will also provide education to consumers about these incentives, so that they can promote adoption.

AB 802 makes it easier for building owners and managers to access aggregated building energy data for purposes of submitting ENERGY STAR reports, and allows utilities to count energy efficiency savings from existing buildings that meet or exceed Title 24 requirements.  The Bill also requires the California Energy Commission to develop building benchmarking standards.

Taken together, these three bills pave the way for businesses to make effective energy management a savvy business decision, and for California to achieve its goal of doubling energy efficiency savings in the state.

Authored By Mona Tierney-Lloyd

Mona directs Enel X's regulatory affairs efforts in California and the Southwestern US.

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