California Energy Commission’s ‘Energy Upgrade California’ Needs to Proceed as Planned

California could soon lose out on $33 million in federal stimulus money that was awarded to improve energy efficiency and support in-state jobs if a court decision made last week is allowed to remain in place.

“The CEC worked hard to design a program that would create jobs in California and protect the environment while meeting tight federal deadlines. ‘Energy Upgrade California’ is exactly the type of program we need to deliver these benefits and was the only and best option that the CEC had given the circumstances. If California loses the money, we all lose out,” said Derek Walker, California Climate Initiative director at Environmental Defense Fund.

The program was initiated by the California Energy Commission so that it could keep $33 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for energy efficiency upgrades, energy reduction measures and related job creation.

The money was initially to be used for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy systems for property owners. Many of these were halted due to Federal Housing Finance Agency decisions, and are still awaiting federal action. Energy Upgrade California is designed to meet the goals of the original plan without wading through the uncertainty surrounding PACE financing.

“Today’s decision jeopardizes $33 million in funding to support an innovative statewide water and energy efficiency program that will benefit all Californians,” said Lara Ettenson, director of NRDC’s California Energy Efficiency Policy. “California leads the nation in energy efficiency and we must protect programs that will reinvigorate our state’s economy by developing clean energy jobs and reducing pollution, while putting money in the hands of consumers through lower energy bills.”

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