The Efficiency Council’s 2015 Annual Conference was held in Oakland on October 7, 2015. It was a dynamic, interactive event intended to help shape the future of energy efficiency and demand response in California. This all day event focuses on engaging leaders from the “behind-the-meter” energy industry, utilities, regulatory and environmental agencies, as well as elected officials and key staff from the California legislature and governor’s office. Discussions include opportunities and drivers for significantly growing demand-side activity in the state.
The 2015 Efficiency Council Annual Conference was a Success
Three commissioners presented their visions for demand-side resources to an overflowing crowd of leaders during the Efficiency Council’s Second Annual Conference “Leading the Way: California’s Vision for Efficiency and Demand Response”. Below, we describe a bit about three key panels.
Read Speech Here
The day started with PUC Commissioner Mike Florio presenting for the first time his “Vision for Integrated Demand-Side Resources in California.” Florio is the lead commissioner for the PUC’s rulemaking – integration of distributed energy resources (IDER) to deploy distributed energy resources that provide optimal customer and grid benefits, while enabling California to reach its climate objectives. His remarks will form the backbone of the IDER proceeding underway at the PUC. A few of his thoughts:
It may be controversial among this group, but I see large scale renewable generation as the core of our emission reduction strategies. They are the engine…So where does that leave behind the meter resources? My view is that whereas large scale renewables are the engine, demand side resources are the transmission. And before this group starts feeling too nervous about my remarks, let me remind you that without a transmission your car won’t go very far.
My perspective is that our current approach to sourcing distributed energy resources, including demand side, is a historical hodge-podge without overarching rhyme or reason. We believe it prudent to ask again if there is a better way to go about it. And we do so with the intent, as I said before, of creating financeable, commercial opportunities for demand side resources that are sensitive to when, where, and how dependably they deliver.
SB 350/AB 802 Implementation Panel
Later in the morning PUC Commissioner Carla Peterman and CEC Commissioner Andrew McAllister discussed the impact of legislation from the 2015 session on their panel: “What is the Path to Implementation? Two Commissioners Initial Thoughts on SB 350 and AB 802.”
Peterman observed that the bills will have a significant impact on the IOU Rolling Portfolio and she intends to step out of the “short-term weedy discussion of energy efficiency and step back” to look at how we can simplify energy efficiency programs. She expressed confidence that “business models can adapt to something new” and asked the audience to “Bring it!” inviting attendees to bring forward creativity to help the PUC “figure it out.”
CEC Commissioner McAllister focused on the provisions of AB 802 regarding energy efficiency and demand reduction targets and benchmarking. This bill repealed AB 1103, the implementation of which was hampered by data restrictions on building owners, and McAllister reported that new provisions will provide commercial building owners the information they need to evaluate energy usage and identify high-value efficiency projects. The new law directs the CEC to establish a statewide energy benchmarking and disclosure program, and enhances the CEC’s existing authority to collect data from utilities and other entities for the purposes of energy forecasting, planning and program design.
McAllister reported that California has set high goals to increase energy savings through short- and long-term energy efficiency and demand reduction measures. Effective solutions will be those that provide true value for commercial building owners and consumers. When these groups have access to their building\’s energy use compared to similar structures, they will be able to make informed decisions to improve performance. Assembly Bill 802 is intended to make it easier for building owners to access that usage information, benchmark the building, and identify the most attractive opportunities for investment.
Art Rosenfeld Lifetime Achievement Award
Special Advisor to the Governor Cliff Rechtschaffen closed the conference by accepting on behalf of Governor Jerry Brown the “Art Rosenfeld Lifetime Achievement Award.” This recognition is given to the individual who has demonstrated an enduring commitment to furthering and supporting the growth of the energy efficiency and demand response industry in California. Governor Brown was the clear choice for this prestigious award because of his aggressive goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and commitment to energy efficiency as one of the foundational activities for achieving this carbon goal.
Governor Brown’s State of the State address was the foundation for SB 350 which calls for a cumulative doubling of energy efficiency and demand reduction savings by January 1, 2030. We applaud the Governor in his long-standing and strong commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency.
In accepting the award on behalf of the Governor, Rechtschaffen acknowledged the huge honor of being associated with Art Rosenfeld, whose pioneering efforts have changed the world and for whom the Governor has great respect. Rechtschaffen also commented:
This year if efficiency hasn’t become sexy, at least it’s been a very hot topic. The Governor issued the clarion call in his State of the State message in January. The folks in the Efficiency Council and others here have helped make doubling efficiency happen. There has been unprecedented attention to the topic, deservedly so. And now that we’ve gotten everyone’s attention, we have ambitious goals we need to deliver. It will be a lot of work. The agencies have to be nimble & effective like never before. You have to think big, delivering business models that scale.