(Sacramento, CA, Dec. 7, 2012) – An innovative and pioneering energy efficiency and renewable energy finance mechanism took a step closer to reality yesterday with the introduction of Senate Bill 37 (SB 37) by Senator Kevin de León. The bill would authorize the Public Utilities Commission to establish a first-in-the nation On-Bill Repayment (OBR) program allowing consumers a creative way to save money and energy by financing energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects through their utility bills. The OBR program was envisioned by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the sponsor of SB 37.
“An On-Bill Repayment program opens up new funding opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy at no cost to taxpayers or ratepayers. It can do so while enabling homeowners and renters to lower their utility bills. EDF is pleased to work with Senator De León to make this win-win a reality for Californians,” said Brad Copithorne, director of financial innovation for EDF’s Energy Program.
“Every Californian should be able to participate in the clean energy economy, and On-Bill Repayment helps us achieve this goal,” said Senator De León. “OBR will lower utility bills, reduce pollution from dirty energy, and put thousands of Californians back to work. I am proud to be working with a broad coalition dedicated to moving this bill forward.”
EDF estimates that even with 1 percent of residential properties participating annually, the program could generate more than 20,000 jobs for the hard-hit construction industry and reduce more than seven million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year.
SB 37 builds on the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) landmark decision last May that requires the investor-owned utilities to establish pilot On-Bill Repayment programs to finance projects for commercial properties. SB 37 provides the CPUC with authority to extend the program to residential properties.
EDF also estimates that this program could generate $2.7 billion in annual private investments once it is up and running. “A well-designed On-Bill Repayment program could meaningfully increase the banking industry’s ability to finance energy efficiency projects throughout California,” said Vincent Siciliano, CEO of New Resource Bank, a likely participant in the program.
The bill is pending referral to the state policy committee and is expected to be first heard in early spring.
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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. Visit us on Twitter at @EnvDefenseFund and @EDF_CA, at our California blog, California Dream 2.0, and on Facebook at facebook.com/EnvDefenseFund.
Senator Kevin de León represents the 22nd District including all or parts of the City of Los Angeles, Alhambra, East Los Angeles, Florence-Graham, Maywood, San Marino, South Pasadena, Vernon, and Walnut Park. He is the Senate Democratic Caucus Chair and is a member of the following committees: Elections and Constitutional Amendments; Energy, Utilities and Communications; Governmental Organization; Health; Rules and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.