Showing the first signs of interest in energy after five weeks back in session in Sacramento, the chairman of California’s lower house Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee Thursday announced that he and two major environmental groups plan to use Valentine’s Day to promote a new state law designed to boost energy conservation. Presumably it will attempt to marshal public sector utilities, as well as private sector ones, in a stepped up effort.

Assembly committee chair Lloyd Levine plans to unveil what his spokesperson called the “Energy Efficiency Act of 2006” at a press conference Tuesday in the state Capitol Building with representatives from the National Resources Defense council (NRDC) and the Sierra Club.

Even without many details as yet, the proposed law was billed as potentially creating an estimated $3 billion in savings to consumers over the next decade, according to Assemblyman Levine’s press secretary. It also supposedly will “reduce greenhouse gas effects equivalent to taking more than a million cars off the road, while at the same time maintaining a reliable power grid for California.”

California officials estimate that for every dollar invested in energy efficiency, the state could net $2 in savings. California has energy efficiency targets set for the next 10 years, the Assemblyman acknowledged, noting that the customers of investor-owned utilities already are contributing to this target. The private sector utilities already are required by law to push energy efficiency, and efficiency and conservation programs have been placed at the top of the pecking order for finding new power supplies, followed by renewable energy sources, and then natural gas-fired electric generation.

Citing targets of $12 billion in savings over than next 10 years and reduction of 11 million tons/year of carbon dioxide, Levine’s preview announcement hinted his proposed new law will try to include all utilities and others in the accelerated statewide effort. “Who else can help us reach out goals?” the Assemblyman’s press secretary asked rhetorically. “What can be done? The answers are in the Energy Efficiency Act of 2006.”.

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