This commentary was originally posted on the EDF California Dream 2.0 Blog.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently released a Proposed Decision that included rulings on energy efficiency financing. One ruling directs the state’s three largest utilities–PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric–to develop an On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program for commercial properties that is based on a proposal developed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The Proposed Decision notes that the agency lacks the full necessary legal authority to implement an OBR program for residential customers. To address that, EDF is sponsoring legislation introduced by California Senator Kevin de Leon that would provide the CPUC with the necessary authority.
Senator de Leon and EDF have been working together to assemble a broad coalition of supporters including labor, contractors, building owners, banks and other investors, solar installers, energy efficiency project developers, environmental advocacy and environmental justice groups.
We are excited to report that yesterday the bill passed the California Senate’s Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. While we have a long way to go, this is another key step toward establishing a program that can invest billions of dollars of private capital in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in California at no cost to taxpayers or ratepayers.
EDF will continue working with a broad range of stakeholders to successfully create the nation’s first statewide OBR program that is entirely financed by third parties. This landmark approach will enable project developers and building owners to use both conventional and innovative financing options to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The CPUC is expected to vote on its proposed decision on May 10, 2012. The bill will continue being heard and voted on over the coming months. Once the final votes are in, California aims to have the commercial OBR program up and running by January 2013.