Energy Commission Adopts Standards for Water Appliances

Due to the severity of California’s drought, the state’s experts have been managing water resources to deal with the effects of the drought and prepare for the next one. As part of the solution, the California Energy Commission approved standards for water appliances which will save more than 10 billion gallons of water in the first year. Over time, the water savings is estimated to reach 105 billion gallons per year – a savings of more than three times the annual amount of water used by the City of San Francisco.

Listen to some highlights below, in both English and Spanish, from California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission's lead on energy efficiency.

Click here to view the full press release.
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New Hydrogen Refueling Station Now Open in Southern California

California has opened a new hydrogen refueling station, one of 46 hydrogen stations scheduled to open before the end of the year. The station is located at the Diamond Bar headquarters of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in eastern Los Angeles County will offer low- and high-pressure hydrogen refueling, with the capability of fueling a vehicle in as little as three minutes. The California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program provided $17 million in funding for the station and seven others, while the SCAQMD contributed $1 million in funding.

 “California is committed to zero emission vehicles and an infrastructure that will help build consumer confidence in them,” said Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation. “This hydrogen station is number 11 in an initial network of 100 stations that will lay the foundation for fuel-cell electric vehicles and begin enabling drivers in the South Coast region to seriously consider buying one of the new hydrogen electric vehicles being released.”

Transportation is responsible for nearly 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The Energy Commission has funded more than 470 clean transportation projects, striving to meet the Governor’s goal of 1.5 million zero-emission cars on California roads by 2025 and to cut petroleum use in half by 2030.

New Agricultural Worker Housing Community Goes Zero Net Energy

One of the country’s first 100 percent zero net energy (ZNE) housing communities targeted specifically for agricultural workers opened in Northern California this month.

The $13 million Spring Lake project in Woodland has 62 affordable apartments and townhomes for agricultural workers and their families.

California has set a goal for all new residential construction in the state to be ZNE by 2020 and all new commercial construction to be zero net energy by 2030. Spring Lake uses no natural gas and receives most of its power from photovoltaics.

“The community will generate at least as much energy as it consumes,” says Vanessa Guerra, a project manager with Mutual Housing California, a Sacramento-based non-profit that develops sustainable affordable housing communities.


The California Energy Commission adopted zero net energy goals in its 2007 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR). It further defined what ZNE buildings are and laid out the necessary steps and renewables options for achieving the ZNE 2020 goals in the 2013 IEPR.

The project was financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Citibank, Wells Fargo Bank, the California Department of Housing and Community Development, the City of Woodland and NeighborhoodWorks.

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Innovative Ideas from California to the Netherlands and Back

The California Energy Commission and the Province of Noord-Holland in the Netherlands agreed this week to exchange information and collaborate on innovative technology in transportation. The Energy Commission is particularly interested in SolaRoad, a Netherlands project that will convert sunlight on roads into electricity. The Province has its eyes on California’s public-private partnership models for electric vehicle charging stations and high-tech transportation networks. Both California and the Dutch province are seeking to reduce greenhouse gases by 2050. Past research missions between the two governments led to the agreement. Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation, met Vice-Governor Elisabeth Post of Province Noord-Holland in October 2014 in the Netherlands.

“This is an exciting partnership with our friends in the Netherlands who, like California, are leading the way in transportation energy policy and technology innovations that are helping to meet our shared climate and clean air goals,” said Commissioner Scott.

Vice-Governor Post said, “California is the e-Mobility leader in the United States. The Province is very pleased to be connected with California and is more than willing to share our leadership experiences with SolaRoad and Smart Mobility.”

Commissioner Scott and Peter van Deventer, diplomatic liaison on behalf of the Province, signed the memorandum of understanding at the Energy Commission’s Business Meeting March 11.

Energy Commission Presents Energy Savings with Computer Standards

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister released proposed energy efficiency standards for computers and monitors during a teleconference with news reporters today.

Listen to some highlights below: 

California is preparing to adopt its first computer and monitor standards for energy efficiency that will save consumers hundreds-of-millions of dollars every year. Before the Energy Commission adopts the standards, the public will have a chance to comment, including an opportunity at a workshop on April 15 in Sacramento.

Computers and monitors, together, are among the leading consumers of energy. Efficiency standards could save enough energy to provide power for all residences in San Francisco and Santa Clara. Commissioner McAllister said a report last year indicated consumers have a strong desire to reduce computer energy use. Computers sit idle about half the time they are powered on.

Proposed standards will require computers and monitors sold in California to be designed to cut energy use when they aren’t being used, but without affecting the core functions of the computers. A $2 increase in the costs of manufacturing a desktop computer could save consumers $69 in energy over the five-year life of the computer.

After the April 15 workshop, the public will get another chance to comment on revisions to the standards before they are adopted by the Energy Commission.

More Than a Quarter of New Homes in Southern California Come With Solar

One in four new Southern California homes now come with solar. That’s the finding from a new report that examines information from the California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership Program (NSHP). The report reviewed permits for single-family homes.

Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, East Bay
“We are seeing very strong growth in the solar market in California in new home construction which is critical to meeting Governor Brown's goal of 12 gigawatts of clean distributed generation by 2020,” said California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

The report defined Southern California as the 10 counties from San Luis Obispo to Imperial. Northern California is cast from north of Sacramento to the Oregon border. For 2012, it found 27 percent of new homes in Southern California were permitted for solar, 4 percent in Central California, and 8 percent in Northern California.

Source: Clean Energy States Alliance based on data provided by the California Energy Commission.

“Thanks to a variety of factors, such as builder education and outreach by solar retailers and installers,” the authors of the report wrote, “many production builders are offering solar energy systems in their Southern California communities. As cities, such as Lancaster, adopt increasingly stringent building requirements that require high levels of energy efficiency and solar energy system installations, this trend may continue.”

NSHP provides financial incentives and other support to homeowners, builders, and developers to encourage the construction of new, energy-efficient solar homes.

Major Energy Issues Facing California Discussed in a New Energy Commission Report

By Commissioner Janea A. Scott 

The Energy Commission has just adopted an Integrated Energy Policy Report Update (IEPR) that outlines how the state will transform its transportation system to zero- and near-zero technologies and fuels to meet its climate and clean air goals. With nearly 120,000 plug-in electric vehicles on California’s roads, the plug-in electric vehicle market is growing steadily, and hydrogen fuel cell electric technology is also poised to become a zero-emission option across the transportation sector.

Incentives will play a key role, the report notes, in supporting and encouraging the use of the alternative fuels and vehicle technologies needed to transform California’s transportation market. Investments in a variety of highly efficient vehicle technologies are necessary for a viable transportation system that will use many types of low-carbon fuels.

The Energy Commission is exploring opportunities to leverage funding that may help to achieve deeper benefits on a faster time frame. See Chapter Two in the report. The Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program has achieved important benefits and is finding ways to measure those benefits. See Chapter Four. Join us for the journey that is blazing new ground and attracting 50 foreign delegations a year to the California Energy Commission.

School district finds energy savings through Proposition 39 funding

The Pleasant Ridge School District, located in the Sierra Foothills, was one of the first districts to take advantage of new funding to help its schools become more energy efficient. The district overhauled lighting systems and modified heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems at three of its schools. The funding for the improvements came from the voter approved Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39).

“It is important for school districts to take advantage of the opportunities the state gives us to enhance old technology and equipment,” said Superintendent Rusty Clark. “Lighting has improved leaps and bounds since the school was first built and being able to bring it up to the new standard gives us the ability to utilize funds in another way.”

Proposition 39 altered how corporations calculate their tax loads and then redirects the proceeds to energy efficiency upgrades at schools and other structures. Now, one year after the first applications were accepted by the California Energy Commission, schools have already begun seeing the benefits. The initiative passed in 2012 and the Energy Commission began drafting guidelines in 2013, but Clark said the district was already in motion. The district conducted an energy audit and found the most savings – about $30,000 a year – would come from replacing or upgrading HVAC systems and exterior lights. It submitted an energy expenditure plan in early 2014 and within one month it was reviewed and approved by Energy Commission staff.

“The process was much easier than we anticipated with a new program,” Clark said. “We were able to complete the project and started to see savings on our electric bill right away. More efficient LED lights may not be the kind of investment students see when they walk the halls, but it has already saved the district approximately $8,000 since the July 2014 completion.”

The district applied for a multiple year expenditure plan and will receive about $500,000 over the next five years. Clark said there are more energy improvements they can make to save even more. “Every dollar not being spent on energy can be used elsewhere within the district.”

Over the next five years Proposition 39 will transfer an estimated $2.5 billion in new revenues to create clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy and costs for schools.

To help schools through the application process, the Energy Commission developed easy-to-use energy savings calculator tools for simple energy projects and has a team of engineers and energy specialists to review and approve expenditure plans. Schools can access these online resources on our website and get advice by calling the toll-free hotline at (855) 380-8722.