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CA Lawmaker, Enviro Groups Push New Energy Efficiency Law

A California state lawmaker and four environmental groups last week proposed a new state law for energy efficiency (AB 2020) with stated goals of capturing $3 billion in savings for consumers, cleaning the air, and assuring long-term power supply reliability. The proposed new law would apply to both private- and public-sector utilities.

As drafted by state Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, chair of the lower house Utilities and Commerce Committee, AB 2020 would only express the intent of the state legislature to require all utilities to step up their energy efficiency programs. Under the bill, the legislature's intent would be "to develop comprehensive legislation to carry out all achievable cost-effective energy efficiency programs by, among other things enabling municipal utilities to decouple revenue requirements from total sales of electricity."

As currently drafted the new law would have the legislature develop standards "to ensure that all new residential construction contains all possible cost-effective energy efficiency standards."

Some of the specific ingredients listed in AB 2020 have been addressed by the California Energy Commission in building standards that it has helped set in the state, and which are considered some of the toughest in the nation. AB 2020 specifically says the legislature's intent is to develop new residential construction standards on energy efficiency, household appliance standards and power content labeling on all household appliances.

"Energy efficiency is the single most effective way to provide reliable, affordable and environmentally friendly energy to Californians," Levine said at a press conference with environmental organizations Tuesday on the steps of the state Capitol in Sacramento.

Joining Levine at the press conference were representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), California chapter of the Sierra Club, California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), and Planning and Conservation League (PCL).

In emphasizing the environmental advantages to energy efficiency, Sierra Club's Jim Metropulo said that what he called "cracking down on publicly owned (municipal-run) utilities" will reduce global warming pollution equivalent to getting a million cars off the road. NRDC's Sheryl Carter called efficiency "the cheapest, cleanest resource available," and touted AB 2020 as an assurance California will have a "truly statewide policy" on the subject.

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