The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has modified the state’s energy efficiency approach to make it easier for homeowners to switch out natural gas appliances.

Regulators modified the three-pronged test originally established to avoid utility programs that involved substituting between gas and electric choices.

"At the time the test was originally established, fuel substitution primarily involved replacing electric equipment with those fueled by natural gas," said the CPUC order.

The five-member commission emphasized that the new equipment must "save energy and also not harm the environment” by adding more greenhouse gas emissions.

A fuel substitution measure would no longer be required to pass a cost-effectiveness level. "Instead, fuel substitution measures will be reflected in the cost-effectiveness evaluation of a program administrator's overall energy efficiency portfolio," the order noted.  

In other CPUC news, Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Marybel Batjer, 64, to take over as president. President Michael Picker said in May he planned to retire after almost five years. Batjer has been secretary of the state’s Government Operations Agency since 2013.