California panel OKs new energy efficiency goals

California utility regulators on Thursday approved a sweeping program calling for new homes and commercial buildings to produce all the energy they consume.


California utility regulators on Thursday approved a sweeping program calling for new homes and commercial buildings to produce all the energy they consume.

Since the California Public Utilities Commission does not regulate housing or building, the CPUC must work with those industries, the California Energy Commission and local governments to push its energy efficiency goals, a spokeswoman said.

The plan, adopted unanimously by the five-member CPUC, also calls for the state's three big investor-owned utilities to prepare one overall plan to boost energy efficiency through 2020 instead of developing separate programs.

The long-term goal is "to make energy efficiency a way of life" in California and reduce demand for power, said CPUC commissioner Dian Grueneich, who authored the program.

"It keeps the lights on, it saves money, and it significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions," she said.

The plan calls for all new housing to be "zero net energy" by 2020 and all commercial construction by 2030. Zero net energy means a building produces its power using efficient architecture and construction; high-effiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and local power generation from solar panels and small generators.

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