California energy efficiency efforts have saved billions

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013 - 10:07 am
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013 - 10:49 am

Re "Economist eviscerates a big boast" (Dan Walters, July 29): Citing a recent economic working paper, Dan Walters' column asserts that California's energy conservation rules have had relatively little to do with California's per-capita power use remaining roughly unchanged since 1973, while United States per capita use rose by 50 percent. In fact, the paper's estimates imply California policies could have accounted for between 12 percent and 39 percent of the difference between U.S. and California per capita consumption. This range is consistent with existing independent research, and it supports the California Energy Commission's energy savings claims.

Additionally, some California policies have been adopted nationally, reducing electricity use throughout the country, not just in California. Therefore, measured differences in per-capita usage understate the impacts of California's policies. Research shows California's energy efficiency policies provide economic benefits through reduced electricity and natural gas consumption and less pollution. These policies have lowered total energy bills paid by Californians, literally by billions of dollars.

-- James L. Sweeney, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center director, Stanford

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