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CA Introduces New Sustainability Metric For Energy Efficiency Programs

(Credit: Utility Dive)

In a move that aligns with the triple bottom line approach of sustainability, California has passed new rules for its utilities to adopt a ‘total system benefit’ (TSB) metric for energy efficiency programs.

Historically, energy efficiency programs, such as lighting and appliance upgrades, have concentrated primarily on a single benefit – economic savings. The new TSB metric factors in the additional benefits of emissions reductions to support California’s ambitious carbon emissions goals, health and wellness from less pollution, and equity that come from energy efficiency programs. In two years the TSB will be the primary metric for assessing utilities’ energy efficiency portfolios.

The TSB will combine and optimize energy savings goals and greenhouse gas benefits into one metric that can be forecasted and tracked, and used by planners. The TSB also encourages “high value” load reduction and longer-duration energy savings while being fuel agnostic.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision also aims to enhance “alignment and stability of energy efficiency program goal-setting, approval, and evaluation processes,” said regulators, by replacing the current 10-year business plan and yearly utility filings with a 4-year application cycle that includes a strategic planning component.

Regulators ordered the state’s investor-owned utilities to file new efficiency program applications by February 2022, to take effect by January 2024. The CPUC also said that this summer the commission will be considering new energy efficiency goals and “adding additional details” to the efficiency program changes to efficiency programs.

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