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California Governor Seeks Help to Keep Energy Efficiency Surcharge on Utility Bills

The Governor of California is asking the state’s utility regulator to find a way to continue funding an energy efficiency program that failed to get renewed by the state Legislature in September.

Gov. Jerry Brown wrote his appointed members of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and pled for help to maintain funding for the energy efficiency program. In his letter to PUC President Michael Peevey, Brown argued the benefits of the program, which included creating jobs and providing subsidies to spur energy efficiency improvements and research into renewable energy.

The program receives about $400 million a year from a small 1.5 percent surcharge on monthly residential and commercial utility bills — called the public goods charge —that amounts to $1 or $2 a month for most utility customers. The surcharge is similar to one that New Jersey is considering replacing with loans.

The energy efficiency program was instituted to help the state clean up its power supply and reduce its carbon emissions. Of the $400 million annual budget, $250 million is allocated for rebates to utility customers who upgrade their homes with energy efficiency improvements, $75 million is awarded to renewable energy projects and another $75 million is set aside to fund the research and development of new energy technologies.

The state Legislature failed to renew the public goods charge, which, because it’s considered a tax, required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass.

Sources

“Gov. Jerry Brown Asks PUC to Pass Electric Bill SurchargeLos Angeles Times, Sept. 26, 2011.

“State Should Extend Energy LevyLos Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2011.

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