The real reasons behind the state’s energy savings.
Cynthia Mitchell is a principal with Energy Economics Inc., a utility consultancy providing energy efficiency resource-planning services. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reuben Deumling and Gill Court are associates with the firm.
In 2005, California’s energy policymakers and regulators established energy efficiency (EE) as California’s highest priority resource for meeting future needs in a clean, reliable, and low-cost manner.1 In 2006, the California legislature and governor positioned energy conservation and efficiency as the cornerstone of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act mandates a 2020 statewide limit on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels. Compliance will be nothing short of Herculean: California will have to reduce per capita energy usage in a manner that accommodates continued brisk population growth and protects the state’s economy from economic dislocations and recessionary pressures.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) point to California’s historical record in saving energy (see Figure 1), coupled with its current stable per capita electricity use relative to the balance of the United States (see Figure 2), as proof that it is up to this formidable challenge: “Because of its energy efficiency standards and program investments, electricity use per person in California has remained relatively stable over the past 30 years, while nationwide electricity use has increased by almost 50 percent.”2