CPUC Proceedings

The CPUC regulates water utilities that serve about 16% of the state’s retail water demand, and energy utilities that serve about 75% of the state’s electric demand. The remaining 84% of water demand and 25% of electricity is served by the state’s publicly owned utilities.  Most of the state’s retail natural gas service is provided by CPUC-regulated investor-owned utilities.

During 2008-2010, the CPUC authorized water-energy studies and pilots to expand knowledge and understanding of water-energy nexus opportunities. CPUC-regulated water and energy utilities already have the ability to develop and implement customer programs that save water and/or energy. The “nexus” introduced a potential new framework: that in addition to reducing energy consumption through system, equipment and operational retrofits, substantial quantities of energy could also be cost-effectively saved by saving water – not just hot water, but also cold water – because saving water also saves all of the energy that would otherwise have been needed to collect/produce, transport, treat, use, and treat and dispose of the wastewater.

This fundamental precept – that saving embedded energy in water (aka, “embedded” or “embodied” energy) could actually be as cost-effective, or even a more cost-effective means of saving energy than traditional utility energy efficiency programs – has captured the state’s attention. The state’s regulated energy utilities can already provide programs and incentives to help energy customers reduce their use by changing lights, HVAC, motors, pumps, and other types of “direct” energy efficiency measures. The state’s regulated energy utilities cannot yet provide incentives that recognize the amount of energy that could be saved, just by saving water.

Encouraged by the results of the Phase 1 pilots, the CPUC directed the state’s energy IOUs to conduct additional pilots during 2013-2015 to build knowledge and understanding about the relationship of water and energy.  In 2015, the CPUC adopted Tools for Calculating the Embedded Energy in Water and an Avoided Capacity Cost Associated with Water Savings.  Modifications are expected to this first generation of water-energy tools.

More about the CPUC’s water-energy nexus policies, practices and proceedings can be found here.

 

 

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