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Energy efliciency has been a central contributor to California’s energy mix since the 1970s. Efliciency is responsible for an annual reduction in statewide electric consumption of 90 TWh (Figure 1), the equivalent of
30 percent of the state’s current electricity consumption and enough to power around eight million households. California’s per capita electricity use has remained flat since the mid-1970s, despite a fourfold increase in real economic output, larger homes and the proliferation of consumer appliances and electronics. Since 2000, the state’s overall carbon emissions are down 8 percent while its economy has grown by 28 percent. California’s deliberate, consistent focus on energy efliciency has played an important role in these successes.
Going forward, the California legislature and Governor Brown have established a goal to double the flow of efliciency savings by 2030. The estimated impacts of this doubling effort are shown in Figure 2. Achieving the goal will see per capita consumption decline around 25 percent by 2030. California’s suite of energy efficiency activities includes:
Building Energy Efliciency Standards. The 2019 Standards update will require residential new construction to have suflicient self-generation (typically PV) to offset all electric load. Incremental costs are shown to be cost-effective.

  • Appliance Efliciency California has explicit authority to develop efliciency standards where national standards do not exist. Recent standards adopted include general service LEDs, computers, and battery chargers. Many appliance standards are currently in development (e.g. industrial fans and blowers, certain compressors and pumps, and room air conditioners).
  • Existing Building Existing buildings are an ongoing, primary focus for achieving the doubling goal. The Energy Commission’s Existing Building Action Plan is updated every three years and is organized around five goals: government leadership; data for improved decisions; workforce development; market valuation of efliciency; and financing.

Efliciency-Focused Programs, Grants and Loans. California invests almost $2 billion annually in incentives, financing and technical support programs focused on energy efliciency.

  • Multifamily and Commercial Benchmarking and A time-certain benchmarking requirement commences in mid-2018, with public disclosure of benchmark information after one year. Visibility of relative building performance will stimulate retrofits statewide, and the information developed will enable improved policies and programs in pursuit of the energy efliciency doubling goal.
  • Emphasis on Disadvantaged Efliciency must be accessible to all citizens. Each efliciency initiative includes special attention to low-income residents and communities.
  • Research, Development and California funds

$150 million per year in efliciency-related research, covering a broad array of topics based on each two-year investment plan.
Data Access and Modern Analytics. The future grid will depend on highly localized and temporal understanding of energy patterns. Modernization of data collection and analytical systems permeates all of California’s efforts in energy efliciency.
Modern Energy Management Complements Renewable Energy Supply
Highly eflicient products and practices increasingly bundle with digital communication and control features to support demand-side responsiveness to the momentary needs of the grid. Good design of buildings and industrial processes, together with advanced energy management systems, can provide both beautifully tailored performance for customers and valuable and much-needed grid services that aid seamless incorporation of renewable energy into the supply mix.
Energy Efficiency Creates Jobs and Economic Resilience
Efliciency sustains around 300,000 good, non-exportable jobs in California alone – around three times the number of jobs in the renewable generation industries. Overall, since 1976 efliciency has saved the California economy well over $100 billion – resources that can be invested in other productive areas of the economy.

Energy Efficiency Optimizes the Distribution Grid

Energy efliciency frees capacity in the distribution grid, allowing new electric loads to be served with only moderate added investment. That ‘headroom’ will be essential, since California’s clean energy path will include widespread electrification: pervasive adoption of electric vehicles, heat pumps, induction cooking and other electric end use technologies. Electrification brings additional benefits, such as avoiding both investment in new retail gas distribution infrastructure and the risks to health and safety from indoor combustion.
Efliciency makes businesses more competitive and allows consumers not only to save money, but also to improve indoor air quality, and increase comfort and quality of life.

California remains more committed than ever to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Accord, and to working with signatory countries and subnational entities alike to achieve this common goal.

   By: Andrew McAllister, Commissioner, California Energy Commission            

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