(SACRAMENTO – August 27, 2014) The California Assembly and Senate voted this week in favor of Senate Bill 1414 (Wolk). This vote will accelerate the use of demand response, a voluntary and cost-friendly tool that relies on people and technology, not power plants, to meet California’s rising electricity needs.
With a unanimous 79-0 vote from the Assembly and 36-0 vote from the Senate, elected officials made it resoundingly clear that California prioritizes clean energy technologies and seeks to make the state’s power grid more reliable and economical through the use of demand response.
“Today marks a turning point for the state of California. This bill will help Californians enjoy more choices that help lower monthly electricity bills and help electric utilities greatly expand their use of demand response to serve the needs of California residents and businesses,” said state Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who authored the bill.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sponsored the bill because demand response is a proven technology that empowers participating families and businesses to lower their electricity bills and carbon footprints, improve air quality, allow for more renewable energy, and enhance electric grid reliability.
“Demand response is low-hanging fruit in California; it’s clean and flexible, and cost-effectively helps address the state’s rising energy needs, especially in light of fossil fuel power plant closures in Southern California. EDF applauds the state’s elected officials for their leadership and foresight to secure cleaner energy and a safer climate for Californians for generations to come,” said Lauren Navarro-Treichler, EDF attorney and California senior clean energy manager.
Senate Bill 1414 directs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and electric utilities to consider demand response, not just fossil fuel power plant investments, as a partner in planning how to balance and ensure reliability for the state’s power grid. Further, the bill requires the PUC to properly value demand response and establishes a mechanism for the PUC to value certain types of demand response for their ability to help with energy system and reliability needs as well as to support the state’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
California’s Energy Action Plan already lists demand response, along with energy efficiency and renewable energy, as a first-choice resource because of its low-cost, low-carbon nature. However, most other states and regions rely far heavier than California on demand response. For instance, New England’s programs enable more than double the demand response participation than those of California. Only Texas and other states in the Southwest lag behind the Golden State.
Demand response helps create a viable pathway for Californians to lower their electricity bills and to cement California as the leader in the nation’s clean energy economy. “The State Legislature has affirmed the importance of this technology in modernizing and enhancing California’s outdated power grid,” said Navarro. “Now it is up to Governor Jerry Brown to stand with the legislature and clean energy champions and sign the bill into law.”
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our California Dream 2.0 Blog.