This commentary was originally posted on the EDF California Dream 2.0 Blog.
Moving Forward with OBR for Commercial Properties
Earlier this year, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) issued a decision requiring the state’s investor-owned utilities to establish several financing programs, including an On-Bill Repayment (“OBR”) program for commercial properties. OBR programs allow property owners to finance energy efficiency and/or renewable energy projects with third-party banks or other investors. Property owners repay their loan via their utility bill and that obligation stays linked to the meter upon a sale of the property.
EDF has been working closely with the utilities, environmental groups, financial institutions, project developers and other key stakeholders to craft a program that provides low-cost financing for retrofits, does not require ratepayer subsidies and has maximum flexibility to allow vendors and investors to decide how best to serve their customers’ needs. We are cautiously optimistic that the utility proposal will meet these objectives when it is released to the public on October 1, 2012.
The CPUC, however, believes that they currently do not have the regulatory authority to extend the OBR program to residential properties. EDF has been pursuing legislation to grant this authority to the CPUC, but, at this time, we do not expect that it will pass in the 2012 legislative session. EDF plans to re-introduce the residential-focused legislation in 2013 with a broad range of supporters, including several key members of the legislature.
EDF has also begun work to establish OBR programs in Ohio, North Carolina and Texas. So far, the reception has been quite positive in each state and we are hopeful that OBR may be a market-based, clean energy solution that has appeal across the political spectrum.