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CPUC Launches Initiative on Global Climate Change

Signifying a trend that some energy stakeholders expect to grow this year, the California Public Utilities Commission announced Wednesday it will hold an en banc meeting Feb. 23 to address climate change and greenhouse gas emission issues. The CPUC indicated it will begin by identifying what it called "best practices" for all of the industries it regulates (electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, water and transportation).

Following the session, leaders from the regulated industries will be responsible for developing what the CPUC called "a collaborative report" to the regulatory commission, recommending industry action and CPUC policies needed to address climate change, the commission said.

CPUC commissioners, the California Energy Commission, utility executives and other stakeholders will hear presentations from representatives of academic, research, business, insurance, shareholder activist and state government organizations, said the commission's chief spokesperson, Terrie Prosper, in an announcement. Prosper called the upcoming day-long session "groundbreaking and precedent-setting" in its scope.

The CPUC will examine "opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to fleet vehicle efficiency, building efficiencies, and overall reduction of energy consumption," said Prosper, calling the CPUC's move the first in the nation by a state regulatory commission.

"This is an unprecedented and much needed step in the United States, and I am pleased that, working with Gov. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger and his administration, we are leading the charge on this important issue," said CPUC President Michael Peevey. "The United States is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter and is responsible for approximately 25% of the world's emissions."

Peevey said the state cannot "sit idly by and not act" on what he called an obvious issue. Furthermore, he said, the effort supports the California governor's separate efforts that were begun last year in the West Coast Governors' Climate Change Initiative. "California continues its legacy as an environmental and business leader," Peevey said.

The CPUC said Schwarzenegger's energy adviser, Joe Desmond, Calpine Corp.'s founder/CEO Peter Cartwright, and the Natural Resources Defense Council's Ralph Cavanagh, along with many other business, academic, government and research representatives, will attend the session.

Topics will include: (a) background on climate change emissions sources , (b) best business practices and (c) risk mitigation strategies/policies. A complete agenda and a CPUC staff discussion paper are available on the CPUC web site (www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/industry/electric/climate+change/index.htm).

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