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Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Bill Passes California Assembly

California's lower house state Assembly Thursday passed a comprehensive energy efficiency bill that would force both private and public sector utilities to meet accelerated statewide goals for increasing energy-saving programs. The vote was 57-18 for AB 2021, pushed by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, chair of the Assembly's Utilities and Commerce Committee.

The proposal now moves on to the state Senate where its fate is less certain and its next stop -- in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee -- had not been scheduled yet, according to a spokesperson for Assemblyman Levine. The California Municipal Utility Association (CMUA) has been a strong opponent of the measure.

AB 2021 is touted as having the potential to reduced statewide forecasted electricity demand by 10% over the next 10 years, effectively offsetting the need to build 11 major power plants. Levine argued that energy efficiency is "the only energy policy that lowers costs, creates reliability and is environmentally friendly," and in his opinion, both the private- and the public-sector utilities should be responsible for doing their fair share to promote it.

"While the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has set aggressive energy efficiency goals for the investor-owned utilities, most municipal utilities lack similar goals," Levine said. "Since municipal utilities represent 27% of California's electricity consumption, we cannot meet statewide energy efficiency goals without municipal utility participation."

Among AB 2021's provision, it would:

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