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Stabilizing California's Demand

The real reasons behind the state’s energy savings.

Fortnightly Magazine - March 2009

of, it is not nearly enough to meet our AB 32 goals. To address this emissions reduction challenge for electricity, we will need to bend this curve downward, because, among other reasons, the population of California continues to grow rapidly, causing overall electricity use in the state to continue to rise by between one and two percent every year.” (emphasis added) p.7.

3. Data supplied by CEC.

4. See Figure 1 in CPUC and CEC, Energy Efficiency: California’s Highest Priority Resource - Lowering Energy Costs, Promoting Growth, and Protecting the Environment , August 2006 .

5. Figure 2 reflects total per capita consumption, which includes, or has embedded in it, economic structural changes over time. To isolate this effect on per capita consumption from EE savings, in our statistical analysis to the extent data was available, we utilized residential per capita consumption and residential savings.

6. See Mitchell, Cynthia, Reuben Deumling and Gill Court, “Is Energy Efficiency Enough? An Exploration of California Per Capita Electricity Consumption Trends,” presented at ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, August 17-22, 2008, http://www.aceee.org/conf.

7. It is important to note that a relatively stable pattern of per capita electricity consumption in this case translates into a moderate but still exponential growth in total residential electricity consumption of an average 2.1 percent per year between 1985 and 2007 (residential account data for PG&E, SCE, and SDGE supplied by the CEC). Such observed growth, though it may be slower than in the majority of other states, is nevertheless antithetical to the state’s global warming goals.

8. Energy Information Administration, State Energy Consumption, Price and Expenditure Estimates , various years; Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data 2004 , Appendix C: Resident Population, Tables C1-C5; and Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Review , Appendix D1: Population, U.S. Gross Domestic Product, and Implicit Price Deflator .

9. Id . A simple linear regression of 2004 per capita residential electricity consumption against the 2004 price of residential electricity by state indicated that 45 percent of the variability in consumption could be accounted for by the price variable.

10. All prices in constant 2000 $.

11. See page 3, heading “Supports Economic Development and Creates Jobs in California,” in CPUC and CEC, Energy Efficiency: California’s HighestPriority Resource - Lowering Energy Costs, Promoting Growth, and Protecting the Environment , supra note 2.

12. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Consumption Estimates by Sector , various years; Energy Information Administration, State Energy Data 2004 , Appendix C: Resident Population, Tables C1-C5 Source; and National Climatic Data Center. A cooling degree day (CDD) indicates how heavy the air conditioning needs are under certain weather conditions. One CDD is accumulated for each degree the average temperature for a day is over 65 degrees F (see http://www.energy.ca.gov/glossary/glossary-c.html and http://www.weather2000.com/dd_glossary.html ). A simple linear regression of California per capita consumption of residential electricity against the number of CDDs for the years 1970-2005 showed that the CDD variable “explained” almost 15 percent of the variability in the per capita consumption variable.