San Diego County Water Authority sponsors water-energy partnership legislation

Short Title
San Diego County Water Authority sponsors water-energy partnership legislation
Bill would boost incentives for utilities and water agencies to create joint conservation programs
January 23, 2008

The San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors yesterday agreed to sponsor legislation that would encourage the development of more conservation partnership programs between water agencies and energy utilities in California.

The legislation would authorize the California Public Utilities Commission to include all energy savings in assessing energy utility and water agency partnerships, not just savings measured in the service area of the partnering agencies as currently required by state law. The bill would require the California Energy Commission to study and develop a system that would account for the total water and energy savings, including savings outside of the partners’ service areas that might occur as a result of conservation achieved by the partnerships.

“Passing this bill will be a great step forward in encouraging more conservation-oriented programs between energy utilities and water agencies,” said Water Authority Board Chair Fern Steiner. “This bill will allow partnering programs to demonstrate their true return on the dollars invested in them, thus providing more justification for energy utilities and water agencies to cooperate in developing programs that reduce the state’s water and energy use.”

According to the California Energy Commission, moving water supplies around California consumes 19 percent of the state’s electricity, 30 percent of its natural gas and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel, per year. To help promote both water and energy savings, the CPUC already has authorized pilot water conservation programs that involve partnerships between energy utilities and large water agencies. This includes a partnership between San Diego Gas & Electric Company and the Water Authority that features several components, such as water and energy audits for large industrial customers, and landscape management and recycled water incentive programs.

The CPUC has stated it is currently prohibited by law from counting any water or energy savings incurred outside of the service area of the two entities. This legislation will remove this constraint and give a more accurate accounting to ratepayers of the total effect of water and energy conservation partnership programs.

The Water Authority plans to introduce this legislation in February 2008.

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