California’s publicly owned utilities spent $159 million on energy efficiency programs in fiscal year 2021 helping to reduce demand by about 81 megawatts (MW), according to a new report from the California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA).
Those energy efficiency investments also helped contribute to 2,851 gigawatt hours (GWh) in lifecycle energy savings and a 254 GWh reduction of annual electricity consumption, the report, Energy Efficiency in California's Public Power Sector – 16th Edition (2022), also noted.
California’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.
Since 2006, California publicly owned utilities collectively spent nearly $2.5 billion on energy efficiency and demand reduction programs, saving nearly 8,300 GWh in net energy during, the report said.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on energy efficiency, the report noted. California’s electricity demand was down in 2021, keeping energy efficiency program yields below pre-pandemic levels. In addition, some programs, such as those requiring direct interaction for installations, had to be suspended.
Some of California publicly owned utilities began to return to programs that require direct interaction while others have indicated they intend to return to those programs in 2022.
Also, the pandemic prompted some CMUA members to change their clean energy focus. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), for instance, is expanding its building electrification efforts and is transitioning from an energy reduction metric to a carbon reduction metric, the report noted.
"This important report details the significant investments we are making to help our customers become more energy efficient,” Barry Moline, executive director of CMUA, said in a statement. “Energy efficiency programs are vitally important to help keep rates affordable while meeting California’s climate goals as the state continues to move toward 100 percent clean energy.”
California’s publicly owned utilities offer their customers a wide range of energy efficiency programs, including direct- and self-install programs for lighting and appliances, home weatherization and retrofits, electric vehicle incentives and rebates, energy storage, business and residential energy audits, public education, and low-income assistance, according to the report. The programs are funded from cap-and-trade allowances, the Public Goods Charge, and other sources.
The 40 publicly owned utilities that contributed data for the report provide electricity to about 25 percent of California. The commercial and industrial sectors account for about 72 percent of the annual energy savings and residential programs resulted in 26.6 percent of the total savings, according to the report.