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Locked Up: California, Utilities Partner on Energy Savings

Utilities and state government are partnering under the California "Green Building Initiative" unveiled earlier in the year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and they marked their first successful collaboration by going to jail Thursday. They weren't locked up, but they did spend some time in Wasco State Prison to present a $6.5 million incentive check for energy efficiency measures adopted by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The prisons chief Matt Cate said his agency has 16 retrofit projects at a dozen sites across California as part of the statewide greening initiative. "We expect these improvements to reduce our energy costs by $3.2 million annually," said Cate, secretary of the corrections department.

Each of the state's four major investor-owned utilities is contributing energy efficiency programs as part of the public-private partnership formed to respond to the governor's challenge. Schwarzenegger's initiative requires state agencies to reduce energy use in their buildings by 20% by 2015.

"The collaboration between the corrections department and the four utilities will put into action energy-efficiency projects for immediate and long-term energy savings, as well as peak-demand reduction," said a spokesperson for Sempra Energy's two utilities involved in the partnership.

Collectively, the partnership efforts are expected to save more than 25 million kWh of electricity; 650,000 therms of natural gas; and 22.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) gases. They said the latter is the equivalent of taking 4,000 vehicles off the road each year.

Sempra utilities Senior Vice President Anne Shen Smith said the statewide effort can "serve as a model for all other state agencies in California in saving energy and protecting our environment." Sempra's Southern California Gas Co. is also involved, along with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co.

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