State and Local Policy Database


State Scorecard Rank



47.0Scored out of 50Updated 12/2022
State Government
Score: 4.5 out of 4.5
State Government Summary List All

California offers several incentives for energy efficiency investments to schools, industry, residential consumers, and the public sector, as well as PACE financing. The state government leads by example by benchmarking energy usage in state buildings, requiring energy-efficient fleets and buildings, and encouraging the use of energy savings performance contracts. California is one of the few states to adopt a commercial building energy disclosure requirement, as well as a residential multifamily disclosure requirement. The state has several research and development institutions focused on energy efficiency investments.

Financial Incentives List All

The state of California offers the following financial incentives to encourage energy efficiency improvements:

  • Bright Schools Program: The Bright Schools Program provides grants of service valued up to $20,000 for technical assistance, such as energy audits, feasibility studies, performance specifications, and professional engineering support services for local educational agencies eligible for Proposition 39 funding. Local educational agencies include public K-12 school district, charter schools, county offices of education, state special schools, and community colleges.
  • California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39 K-12 Program): This program provides funding for energy efficiency retrofits and clean energy generation at school buildings within a local educational agency to increase energy use savings and energy cost savings.
  • Energy Partnership Program: The Energy Partnership Program provides grants of service valued up to $20,000 for technical assistance, such as energy audits, feasibility studies, performance specifications, and professional engineering support services for cities, counties, special districts, public hospitals and care facilities, and public colleges/universities.
  • California Capital Access Program: California Pollution Control Financing Authority’s (CPCFA) CalCAP is a loan loss reserve program for small business lending, which may provide up to 100% coverage to participating lenders on losses as a result of certain loan defaults. Eligible projects include energy-efficiency retrofits. The program provides an incentive to participating financial institutions to lend to businesses that would not otherwise qualify for a loan.
  • PACE Loss Reserve Program: The PACE Loss Reserve Program mitigates the potential risk to first mortgage lenders associated with residential PACE financing. While CAEATFA itself does not administer PACE financing, the $10 million loss reserve available through the program will make first mortgage lenders whole for any direct losses in a foreclosure or a forced sale that are attributable to a PACE lien covered under the program. As of 2021, over 118,000 PACE loans worth more than $2.7 billion in financing are covered by the PACE Loss Reserve Program. Two claims were received in 2021.
  • Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA): A revolving loan program that provides low-interest (1%) loans up to $3 million to cities, counties, special districts, and other public entities for energy efficiency and clean energy generation projects.
  • Energy Conservation Assistance Act - Education Subaccount (ECAA-Ed): A revolving loan program that provides interest free loans up to $3 million to local educational agencies (public school districts, charter schools, county offices of education, and special schools) for energy efficiency and clean energy generation projects.
  • STE Program (Sales and Use Tax Exclusion for Advanced Transportation and Alternative Energy Manufacturing Program): The Sales Tax Exclusion (STE) Program, which launched in 2010, provides a sales and use tax exclusion for California manufacturers investing in alternative energy source, advanced transportation, recycling, and advanced manufacturing projects. Eligible manufacturers may submit applications for up to $10 million in sales tax exclusions (and may submit application for up to $20 million in sales tax exclusion to a large project pool at the first deadline of the calendar year) for facility improvements and equipment. In 2021, a list of Emerging Strategic Industries was developed to support particularly innovative industries, technologies, and products; the list currently focuses on lithium-related products.
  • GoGreen Financing Program (formerly CHEEF): Statewide energy efficiency financing platform to facilitate private capital lending for energy efficiency improvements within the single-family, affordable multifamily, and small business sectors. Known publicly as the GoGreen Financing Programs, the CHEEF incents private capital providers to offer energy efficiency financing with lower rates, longer payback terms, and broader underwriting criteria by offering a credit enhancement in the form of a loan loss reserve. The GoGreen Home Energy Financing Program launched in July 2016, and as of April 30, 2022, has enrolled over 2,000 loans totaling more than $33 million working with 8 of California's credit unions. The GoGreen Business Energy Financing Program launched in 2019 and has financed 13 projects worth $1.8 million as of May 18, 2022. On-bill repayment functionality, which allows the borrower to repay their financing as part of their utility bill, became available for GoGreen Business in 2022. The GoGreen Affordable Multifamily Financing program launched in 2019 and has yet to enroll its first project.
  • Farm Worker and Multi-Family Low-Income Weatherization Programs: Reduces GHGs by installing energy efficiency and solar photovoltaics for low-income single-family households, and providing technical assistance and incentives for energy efficiency upgrades and renewables for multi-family properties. The program is comprised of four components: the Single-Family Energy Efficiency and Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Program, which includes a new program component focused on farmworker housing; the Single-Family Solar PV Program; the Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables program; and a Community Solar Pilot Program providing the benefits of renewable energy to additional households.
  • Food Production Investment Program: The Food Production Investment Program (FPIP) provides grants to California’s food processing industry to reduce GHG emissions associated with energy use. The goals of the program are to accelerate the adoption of advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at California food processing plants, demonstrate their reliability and effectiveness, and help California food processors work towards a low-carbon future. Program funding is divided between two tiers. Tier I funds commercially available, drop-in energy efficiency technologies that provide GHG emission reductions compared to current best practices or industry standards. Tier II funds emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that are not widely used in California but have been proven elsewhere to be capable of reducing GHG emissions. All projects funded by FPIP must perform measurement and verification via actual on-site measurements to quantify energy savings and GHG emission reductions.

Further financial incentive information can be found in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE California). In addition to these state-funded incentives, California has enabled commercial and residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and has multiple active programs. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation.

Last Reviewed: June 2022

Equity Metrics and Workforce DevelopmentList All

California’s energy plans have specific advisory group, policies, programs and metrics to ensure energy equity. State agencies involved include CEC, CPUC and California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).

The Disadvantaged Community Advisory Group (DACAG), an advisory body consisting of representatives of disadvantaged communities, advise both the CEC and the CPUC on how programs can effectively reach and benefit communities disproportionately burdened by pollution and socio-economic challenges, including rural and tribal communities. The creation of CACAG fulfills a requirement in SB 350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.

2019 California Energy Efficiency Action Plan (Publication Number: CEC-400-2019-010-CMF), published by CEC, lays out policy pathways to improve energy program access for low-income and disadvantaged communities. These include: offering inclusive financing options that do not add personal debt, removing barriers that prevent programs with different missions to form leveraging funding for holistic building projects, and sharing programs that best target environmental justice communities.

The Energy Equity Indicators Tracking Progress report was developed to advance implementation of Recommendation 5 of the SB 350 Low-Income Barriers Study, which indicates the need for "collaborating among all program delivery agencies to establish common metric and collect and use data systematically across programs to increase the performance of these programs in low-income and disadvantaged communities." The CEC maintains maps and geospatial information on selected energy equity indicators. The map base highlights areas with 60 percent or less of statewide median income and disadvantaged communities eligible for GHG reduction fund programs. The map also identifies tribal areas and provides data on low-income areas with low energy efficiency investments, low solar capacity per capita, or low clean vehicle rebate incentive investments.

The CEC’s energy research and development programs also prioritize energy equity to ensure that the most vulnerable communities benefit from emerging clean energy technologies. The CEC’s EPIC program exceeded the requirements set forth in AB 523 (Reyes, Chapter 551, Statutes of 2017) for at least 25 percent of the technology demonstration and deployment funds to be expended on projects in and benefitting disadvantaged communities and an additional 10 percent of the technology demonstration and deployment funds to be expended on projects in and benefitting low-income communities. In March 2019, CEC EPIC staff helped conduct community-engagement meetings in Bakersfield and Madera. The meetings provided a high-level, educational overview to community members on CEC funding programs. Self-Help Enterprises, a low-income housing program in Visalia, helped plan and conduct localized outreach for these meetings and arranged guided tours of the communities for staff to better understand the communities’ clean energy needs. Additional outreach efforts were made to tribal, low-income, and disadvantaged communities in 2019, including requests for comments on proposed evaluation criteria and presentations on EPIC funding to tribal groups. In October 2019, the CEC launched the Empower Innovation online networking platform designed to connect stakeholders to form partnerships on public and private grant funding opportunities such as local governments, diverse businesses, community-based organizations, and tribes. At the November 2019 Disadvantaged Community Advisory Group meeting, CEC staff presented information on the EPIC program, provided a demo of Empower Innovation, and sought feedback to improve the program, including reaching out to diverse communities. In 2019, CEC EPIC staff also hired a Civic Spark fellow to work directly with the cities of Arvin and Paramount in an effort to better understand the needs of the disadvantaged and low-income communities they serve. The CEC EPIC program will continue to provide set-asides in applicable EPIC solicitations for projects in and benefitting disadvantaged or low-income communities. The new scoring criteria evaluates the benefits to the community, community engagement efforts, and localized health impacts. A map showing the CEC EPIC project sites located in disadvantaged communities can be found in the 2019 EPIC Annual Report.

The CPUC has extensive programs aimed at expanding access for low-income and disadvantaged communities to energy and electrification programs. CPUC’s building decarbonization effort has eight energy equity focused programs out of a total of 11. There are six programs dedicated solely to low income customers, and two others are dedicated to residents who are rebuilding their homes after the devastating wildfires of the last few years. For example, San Joaquin Valley Affordable Energy Proceeding dedicates $56.4 million for no-cost, all electric retrofits to homes that are in disadvantaged areas in the San Joaquin Valley that are not serviced by natural gas lines. Many of these residents have been using propane or wood for heating; once the San Joaquin Pilot is implemented, they will instead have modern space and water heating heat pump equipment.

CPUC’s Building Initiative for Low-Emissions Development (BUILD) program dedicates $80 million to all-electric new low-income residential buildings. The construction will be prohibited from having natural gas hook-ups. This program is being funded from the cap and trade revenue from natural gas utilities. SB 1477 (Statues of 2018) requires that no less than 30 percent of the total BUILD program funding be reserved to incentivize new low-income residential housing. The low-income building projects must (a) receive higher incentives than other types of housing, (b) be offered technical assistance, and (c) not result in higher utility bills for occupants. The TECH initiative targeting criteria include technology with the greatest potential for improving health and safety and energy affordability for low-income households.

The CEC provides access for designers of and advocates for low-income housing to the California Utility Allowance Calculator. The CUAC encourages energy efficiency investments in low-income housing by properly recognizing the energy bill reductions that tenants and building owners can realize, allowing those reductions toaccounted for in low-income property capitalization and valuation. HCD has several programs that incentivize or require energy efficiency and/or sustainable energy components within their affordable housing development projects. For example, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC) funds land-use, transportation, and land preservation projects that will reduce GHG emissions by efficiently locating housing near destinations. Residents then have the ability to walk, bike, or take public transportation. Points are awarded for green buildings and renewable energy.

Multifamily Housing Program (MHP) funds projects for new construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of permanent and transitional rental housing for lower-income households. MHP offers points for sustainable building methods. In November 2018, Senate Bill 3 authorized the Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 (Proposition 1) that issues bonds in the amount of $1.5 billion for this program.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Housing Program ensures funds for higher density affordable housing developments within a quarter mile of transit stations. Rehabilitation of these developments may include efficiency upgrades. The Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 also made available $150 million to the TOD Program.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program - Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is not currently funded, but it is being monitored by HCD. This program provided funding for affordable housing, as well as the acquisition, rehabilitation, and rental or resale of single-family residential properties with possibilities for green and energy-efficiency retrofits where feasible.

Workforce Development

The CEC’s EPIC program developed many online tools and resources to share knowledge on the program’s clean energy research. These tools help utilities, decision makers, innovators, and other stakeholders strengthen resilience, safety and affordability. For example, the WISE resource has over 9,700 users and provides training on high performance buildings. This project provided education, outreach and resources for California's new residential building industry. This project provided on-the-job training to homebuilders, installing trades, subcontractors and field crews on the proper installation that will be needed to meet the state's requirements. Informational materials and success stories were also updated on the project website. Building Industry Technology Academy, a statewide high school program, also develops new curriculum that incorporated WISE into their annual build challenge in Southern CA.

2019 California Energy Efficiency Action Plan: Recommendations from the plan support additional locally led outreach and education, maximizing ongoing workforce development activities across state agencies, and leveraging relationships between workforce educators, state agencies, community colleges, and vocational schools. California already has active workforce development programs but more work is needed to ensure that family-supporting jobs are created in all communities.

Under the direction of CPUC, California IOUs have strong workforce requirements for customers to receive incentives. Downstream or midstream programs over $3,000 require installation by an experienced installer, or someone with active apprentices, or with a state or federal apprenticeship certification.

The Clean Energy in Low-Income Multifamily Building Action Plan (CLIMB Action Plan Publication Number: CEC-300-2018-005-SF) set forth early actions to implement energy and water efficiency, demand response, on-site renewable energy, electric vehicle infrastructure installation, and energy storage for multifamily housing in California. The CLIMB Action Plan addresses the SB 350 Barriers Study recommendation to "develop a comprehensive action plan focused on improving opportunities for energy efficiency, renewable energy, demand response, energy storage, and electric vehicle infrastructure for multifamily housing, with attention to pilot program for multifamily rental properties in low-income and disadvantaged communities”. Strategies in the CLIMB Action Plan include workforce development: "Coordinate with the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) to streamline efforts in education and training supporting the development of distributed energy resources throughout the state, with a focus on multifamily buildings and low-income and disadvantaged communities."

The State of California is pursuing clean energy workforce development through Workforce Standards requirements and direct training through Workforce Education and Training programs. Workforce Standards In 2015, the Legislature passed SB 350, which mandated that the CEC develop a responsible contractor policy. The responsible contractor policy would be applied to all “ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs with an installation and/or maintenance component.” CPUC issued decision D.18-10-008 which required program funded projects that include heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and Lighting Control measures to utilize installation technicians that meet workforce standards criteria to help improve installation quality in the areas of HVAC and lighting controls projects. This effort was designed to make a start toward workforce requirements, where more stringent or more broadly applicable requirements may be structured and phased in in the future. D.18-10-008 also stated that the CPUC would study the CEC Responsible Contractor Policy when it was completed as well as analyze programs that had applied workforce standards to determine if additional workforce standards should be applied. Additionally, the CPUC ruled in D.18-10-008 that all energy efficiency program administrators propose a common portfolio level indicator to track disadvantaged worker participation in all Energy Efficiency programs. Utilities in California provide two main Workforce Education and Training programs focused on energy efficiency workforce development: Centergies and Connections. The WE&T Centergies subprogram is executed primarily through the eight IOU Energy Centers throughout California. The Energy Centers are focused on sector strategies that will result in high-road sector-specific education and training. The WE&T Connections subprogram facilitates implementation of energy efficiency strategic planning for K-12, community colleges, adult education, and higher education institutions. It seeks to promote energy efficiency within these educational sectors while simultaneously providing energy related education as well as career awareness information to students.

Climate & Labor Report (AB 398, 2017): A report to the Legislature, developed pursuant to Assembly Bill 398 (E. Garcia, Chapter 135, Statutes of 2017), offering the State a vision for ensuring that major climate policies and programs support high-quality jobs with accessible training pathways to them, particularly for disadvantaged Californians.

Just Transition Roadmap (Under development): The CWDB and Labor & Workforce Development Agency are working with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to develop the state’s first “Just Transition Roadmap” pursuant to Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20 issued in September 2020. Roadmap is expected to be release July 2021. A major focus is on clean energy workforce development.

West Coast Center of Excellence in Zero-Emission Technology: A workforce training and education organization funded by the FTA. This center serves to bring education to transit agencies looking to establish or increase their zero-emission fleets and technologies. A network of over 700 organizations and 2,000 members – connecting organizations and building partnerships​ that provides: 1) Easy access to funding opportunities; 2) CEC and other funding providers​; 3) Curated resources and events​; 4) Connections to people and organizations. It’s a great platform for industry networks and partnerships.

CEC/CARB’s joint IDEAL Zev Workforce Pilot: This is a competitive grant solicitation. The California Energy Commission’s (CEC’s) Clean Transportation Program and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) allocate up to $6,815,000 in grant funds for projects that will provide workforce training and development that support zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), ZEV infrastructure, and ZEV-related commercial technologies in California. Proposed projects should demonstrate community and employer engagement and a path toward ZEV jobs in the State. The Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable, Accessible, and Local (IDEAL) ZEV Workforce Pilot focuses investments on and provides benefits to priority communities. Key goals of this investment include:

  • Supporting training in ZEV industries
  • Aligning workforce projects in ZEV deployment areas for growth and scale
  • Making training specifically available to priority communities
  • Preparing dislocated, unemployed, and new workforce entrants for ZEV careers
  • Accrue environmental and socioeconomic benefits to California

Priority populations include residents of (1) census tracts identified as disadvantaged per Senate Bill 535, (2) census tracts identified as low-income per Assembly Bill 1550, or (3) a low-income household per Assembly Bill 1550.

CPUC’s MOU with California Workforce Development Board: Pursuant to the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan (ESJ Action Plan), as well as directives in Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-19-19 (EO N-19-19), the CPUC and California Workforce Development Board (CWDB) (collectively the Parties) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2020 to coordinate economic and workforce development planning, analysis, and implementation activities. The purpose of this agreement is to draw upon the expertise of the CWDB to ensure the state has the workforce and industry-based training partnerships necessary to meet its clean energy and clean transportation goals, while building pathways into the middle class and beyond for Californians who have been historically excluded from opportunity or shouldered a disproportionate share of climate and environmental costs. The scope of this agreement includes advice and recommendations to ensure CPUC policies and regulated programs create or support high-quality jobs in the energy and transportation sectors and expand access to those jobs for priority populations through high-quality education and training.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

California’s AB 32 (Statutes of 2006) authorized the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to establish the Cap-and-Trade Program for GHG emissions. The program began in 2013, initially covering the power sector and large industrial facilities. In 2015, the scope of the program coverage was expanded to include emissions from transportation fuels and all supplied natural gas. In 2017, AB 398 (Garcia, Chapter 135, Statutes of 2017) clarified the role of the program to help realize California’s emissions reduction target of at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, as mandated in SB 32. The program covers facilities responsible for emissions of at least 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, and it covers about 80 percent of statewide emissions.

About half of all allowances are given freely to either electrical utilities, natural gas suppliers, or the industrial sector, and remaining allowances are available for auction. Allowances allocated to investor-owned electrical utilities must be consigned to the auction, with proceeds used to benefit ratepayers. Publicly owned utilities may use allocated allowances for program compliance or use auction proceeds to reduce emissions and benefit ratepayers. From the auction proceeds derived from the sale of state-owned allowances, which are made available through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and the state budgeting process, about 6% of collected funds were allocated to energy efficiency programs in 2019, not including the substantial investments that also went toward low-carbon vehicles and public transportation. The state met its 2020 emissions target in 2016.

A total of $13,172,661,191 has been raised in auction proceeds from the sale of California state-owned allowances and deposited into the California Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) pursuant to California Government Code section 16428.8. An additional $8,492,454,304 was raised by California allowances consigned by electrical distribution utilities and natural gas suppliers. Of the over $13B deposited into the GGRF, $12.687B has been appropriated to California Climate Investments programs for projects that reduce or facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gases as of November 30, 2019. Of these funds, approximately $1.194B has been appropriated to programs with an energy-efficiency focus.

ARB, CPUC, and CEC all track avoided GHG emissions achieved through energy efficiency programs. ARB’s California Climate Investments develops GHG and co-benefit quantification methods for each of the energy efficiency programs funded through Cap-and-Trade proceeds. GHG emissions reductions achieved for each individual program are tracked through an Annual Report. Second, CARB reports statewide GHG emissions annually through the California Greenhouse Gas Inventory Program. GHG emission reductions achieved through energy efficiency programs are indirectly tracked through this program by comparing year to year GHG emissions for commercial and residential buildings. Third, CARB publishes building related emissions and projected GHG reductions for energy efficiency programs through the Climate Change Scoping Plan.

CPUC tracks avoided greenhouse gas emissions achieved through the state’s Energy Efficiency Programs. California tracks first year and lifecycle savings in Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10). This data is publicly available on the CPUC managed database. The TRC test also includes a $30/ton adder for carbon.

CEC is assessing the potential to reduce GHG emissions in existing residential and commercial buildings 40 percent by 2030. As part of this activity, the CEC has developed and is using a fuel substitution scenario analysis tool that tracks GHG reduction, energy use, and cost impacts from fuel switching. Preliminary information on the tool was shared in 2019 with the final report due in 2021. Pursuant to SB 3232 (2018), the CEC is assessing the potential to reduce GHG emissions in existing residential and commercial buildings 40 percent by 2030. As part of this activity, the CEC has developed and is using a fuel substitution scenario analysis tool that tracks GHG reduction, energy use, and cost impacts from fuel switching. Preliminary information on the tool was shared in 2019 with the final report due in 2021. The CEC Proposition 39 program tracks GHG reductions resulting from program funded energy efficiency projects in K-12 public schools.

In response to SB 1327 (2005), the California Publicly-Owned Utilities are required to report annually to the Energy Commission on the plans for, budget and expenditures, and energy savings results for energy efficiency programs that they conduct. Since 2008 those reports have tracked estimated GHG emissions resulting from those energy savings. The most recent annual report indicates the on-going responsiveness of POU energy efficiency programs to state climate change goals, and the need to track the GHG emissions resulting from those programs: “A clear focus on programs that reduce energy consumption in existing buildings and new construction will be critical in meeting the State’s carbon reduction goals … California’s newest policy-driven opportunity, and challenge, is to shift the focus of energy efficiency strategies from kilowatt-hours (kWh)saved to GHG emissions reduced.”

Per EO B-55-18, California does have a statewide emissions reduction goal in place, specifically to reduce emissions 100% by 2045 (baseline year 1990).

Last Reviewed: September 2022

Building Energy Disclosure List All
  • Building type(s) affected: commercial, residential multifamily

Assembly Bill 1103 requires nonresidential building owners or operators to disclose the energy consumption data consistent with the ENERGY STAR rating system to buyers, lenders, and lessees. It went into effect on July 1, 2013, for buildings over 50,000 square feet; January 1, 2014, for buildings over 10,000 square feet; and July 1, 2014, for buildings equal to or greater than 5, 000 square feet. 

Assembly Bill 802 directed the California Energy Commission to create a statewide building energy use benchmarking and public disclosure program for commercial and multi-family residential buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. The Energy Commission’s regulations require building owners to report building characteristic information and energy use data to the Energy Commission by June 1 annually, beginning in 2018 for buildings with no residential utility accounts, and in 2019 for buildings with 17 or more residential utility accounts. Building owners will complete their reporting using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a free online tool provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Commission will publicly disclose some of the reported information beginning in 2019 for buildings with no residential utility accounts, and 2020 for buildings with residential utility accounts.

Last Reviewed: May 2022

Public Building Requirements List All

CA Executive Order (EO) B-18-12, signed in April of 2012, established targets for energy and water efficiency, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for state agencies. Energy and water use was reduced further in 2019 from baselines. Energy savings targets included reductions in grid-based energy purchases by 20% by 2018 using 2003 as a baseline. State buildings have already reduced energy use by 21% through 2019 since 2003, while its total building area has grown 18% reducing its overall energy use intensity by 33%. California has already doubled the 2020 water energy savings target reduction. EO B-18-12 established targets for 50% of newly constructed state buildings and major renovations started after 2020 to be zero net energy, and 100% by 2025, as well as 50% of existing square footage shall include measures achieving zero net energy by 2025. However, in October 2017, a new policy went in to effect in the SAM section 1815.31, moving up the start date for 100% of new state buildings, major renovations, and build-to-suit leases beginning design after October 23, 2017, to be designed, constructed, and verified to be zero net energy (ZNE). This effectively moved up the start date for these ZNE new buildings by eight years. 50% of existing square footage shall include measures achieving zero net energy by 2025. Over 5 million square feet of existing state buildings are already ZNE, and another 3.3 million square feet are in design or construction that will achieve ZNE. A ZNE webpage includes policies, energy efficiency targets, tools (including a ZNE calculator), and resources to help state buildings achieve ZNE. The state facility website can now search individual facility data under each state department.

In 2016, former Governor Brown approved a definition for ZNE for existing and newly constructed state buildings, which closely aligns with the definition DOE published in 2015. In October 2017, state policy for meeting the Governor's Executive Order was published and outlines requirements, strategies, and resources to help state facilities achieve ZNE. It also established all state buildings, including new, major renovations, and build-to-suit leases, beginning design after October 23, 2017, are to be ZNE. Additionally, energy efficiency targets were established for 50% of existing state buildings required to achieve ZNE by 2025 (see this document). These targets were established by 27 building types and occupancies prevalent in state use, and translated into 16 California climate zones. They reflect top quartile (25%) efficiency levels for each building/occupancy type, based on historical state building energy benchmarking. A ZNE calculator was developed to assist state agencies with calculating compliance and estimating renewable energy generation requirements.

Newly constructed state buildings or major renovations smaller than 10,000 square feet must comply with the California Green Building Standards Tier I (15% more efficient than the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards) and incorporate building commissioning. New or major renovation of state buildings larger than 10,000 square feet must comply with the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, earn the "Silver" level of LEED certification, incorporate on-site renewable energy (if economically feasible), and new and existing state buildings are required to incorporate building commissioning. State agencies have installed over 43 MW of onsite renewable power generation at state facilities and more is planned or under construction. The University of California has installed an additional 36 MW of onsite renewable power and has more projects planned or under construction. Executive Branch facilities have many other installations underway and are well on track to reach 100MW goal by 2020. State facility energy, water, and GHG data are publicly displayed on website:

The Green Building Action Plan for EO B-18-12 further requires existing State buildings over 50,000 square feet to complete LEED-EB certification by December 31, 2015, to the extent it’s cost effective. Already, 231 new, existing, and leased executive branch state buildings (over 22 million square feet) have achieved LEED certification. Additionally, the University of California has more than 250 LEED certifications for its buildings, covering over 25 million square feet. State facilities were ordered to reduce water use by 10% by 2015, and 20% by 2020, from a 2010 baseline. State agencies have already reduced water use by 7.6 billion gallons annually, or 40% since 2010. Both energy and water use for all state facilities are benchmarked annually into the Energy Star Portfolio Manager. State agency energy use, water use, and GHG emissions are posted on the Governor’s public Green Building Website, and beginning in 2016 included individual facility data that is updated weekly. The Department of General Services working with State agencies has developed policies and guidelines for the sustainable operations and practices of State buildings to achieve operating efficiency improvements and water and resource conservation.

These new polices continue to be developed, updated, and incorporated into the State Administrative Manual (SAM). State agencies were also ordered to plan for and expand their electric vehicle charging infrastructure at state facilities, and DGS developed a guidance document for state facilities for planning and installation of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

Last Reviewed: June 2022

Fleets List All

The State fleet met and exceeded the 20 percent petroleum reduction goal of AB 236 (Statutes of 2007) prior to the 2020 requirement. To continue the state’s efforts to reduce the state fleet’s petroleum consumption and GHG emissions and assist the state in meeting the 40 percent GHG emissions reduction goals set forth in EO B-30-15 and enacted into law in SB 32 (Statutes of 2016), California’s Department of General Services (DGS) established a new state fleet petroleum reduction target of 50 percent by 2030. To provide transparent and continuous updates on DGS’ progress toward meeting this goal, DGS will begin tracking and displaying progress toward meeting this goal on the state’s Green Fleet website in lieu of providing annual reports.

Additionally, the state recently issued Management Memo (MM) 19-05 in December of 2019 in support of EO N-19-19, which required state government to redouble its efforts to reduce GHGs and mitigate impacts of climate change. MM 19-05 prohibits state agencies from purchasing sedans powered solely by an internal combustion engine utilizing fossil fuels, as well as sedans powered by flex-fuel or bi-fuel engines utilizing petroleum-based fuels and other alternative fuels, such as ethanol. MM 19-05 also restricts state agencies from purchasing fleet assets from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that do not recognize California’s authority to set vehicle emission standards under Section 209 of the Clean Air Act.

Executive Order B-2-11, issued January 28, 2011, required an extensive analysis be conducted to eliminate all non-essential and cost-inefficient state fleet vehicles and equipment. The resulting right-sizing contributed to reduced petroleum use by the state fleet, particularly since the reduction was conducted to eliminate the most fuel inefficient vehicles. DGS recently issued MM 20-05, which notifies state agencies that DGS will conduct another evaluation of the state fleet to ensure it is right sized to government operations.

Executive Order B-16-12, issued March 23, 2012, requires California's state vehicle fleet to increase the number of its zero-emission vehicles through the normal course of fleet replacement so that at least 10 percent of light-duty fleet purchases are zero-emission by 2015 and at least 25 percent are zero-emission by 2020. Through this action, the state government’s fleet will be leading the way to the Executive Order’s goal of more than 1.5 million ZEVs in California by 2025, which will annually displace at least 1.5 billion gallons of petroleum fuels.

As required by the 2016 ZEV Action Plan, issued October 2016, California's state vehicle fleet is expanding upon Executive Order B-16-12’s zero-emission vehicle purchasing mandate and will ensure that through the normal course of fleet replacement at least 50 percent of light-duty fleet purchases are zero-emission by 2025. Management Memo 16-07 (December 2016) provides direction to state agencies for implementing the Governor’s 2016 ZEV Action Plan requirements. UC voluntarily adopted parallel targets for fleet replacement and commuter ZEVs in its Sustainable Practices Policy. CSU is in the process of adopting parallel targets for fleet vehicle purchases as part of the State University Administrative manual.

Policies enacted to improve the fuel efficiency of California’s state government fleet include:

  • Management Memo 17-05 (November 2017) – set optimum age and mileage replacement thresholds for the state fleet’s vehicles.
  • Management Memo 16-07 (December 2016) – provides direction to state agencies for implementing the Governor's 2016 ZEV Action Plan.
  • Management Memo 15-07 (December 2015) – requires state agencies to purchase renewable diesel fuel, in lieu of conventional diesel and biodiesel for bulk purchases of fuel for diesel powered fleet assets.
  • Management Memo 15-03 (April 2015) – increases the minimum fuel economy standard for light-duty passenger vehicles to 38 miles per gallon (MPG) from 27.5 MPG.
  • Management Memo 13-04 (January 2013) – provides direction to state agencies for implementing Executive Order B-16-12 requirements.
  • Management Memo 12-05 (May 2012) – reinforces the obligation for state departments to maximize their use of alternative fuels and reduces or displaces petroleum consumption for their fleets.
  • Management Memo 12-06 (May 2012) – requires state agencies to request reconditioned, used, or remanufactured automotive parts, and re-refined or synthetic motor oil and lubricants, whenever practical and cost-beneficial as state vehicles are repaired. The use of these products can help protect the environment and reduce petroleum consumption compared to the use of new materials.
  • Management Memo 12-03 (April 2012) – mandates solar reflective colors for most new vehicle purchases, which reduce air conditioning needs and related petroleum consumption.
  • Management Memo 08-04 (March 2008) – established a minimum average fuel economy standard for most fleet vehicles. Efforts are currently underway to update the established minimum average fuel economy standard to reflect the market availability of more fuel efficient vehicles.

Assembly Bill 236 (2007) added California Public Resources Code §25722.8 (a), establishing the goal of reducing or displacing the state fleet’s petroleum use by 10 percent by January 1, 2012, and by 20 percent by January 1, 2020, as compared to a 2003 baseline. As of January 1, 2017, the state fleet met the 20 percent petroleum reduction goal with a total petroleum reduction from the 2003 baseline of 22.3 percent. To date, the state fleet has reduced its petroleum consumption by at least 13-percent and is on its way to meeting the 2020 goal of a 20-percent overall reduction. Additional information about this achievement and other state fleet sustainability initiatives is available here.

Senate Bill 498 (2017) added California Public Resources Code §25724, establishing a statutory requirement for the Department of General Services to “ensure that at least 50 percent of the light-duty vehicles purchased for the state fleet each fiscal year are zero-emission vehicles.” This statute codifies the 50% requirement issued in the Governor’s 2016 ZEV Action Plan and will further drive the state fleet towards our goal to reduce fleet related petroleum consumption and emissions.

Assembly Bill 739 (2017) added California Public Resources Code §25722.11, which requires, beginning December 31, 2025, that at least 15% of newly purchased vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 19,000 pounds or more purchased by state entities be zero emission. The statute also increases the purchasing requirement to 30% in December, 2030. DGS will be developing statewide policy to ensure compliance with this statute and will continue to work to adopt more zero-emission vehicles in the medium and heavy duty weight categories.

Last Reviewed: June 2022

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

Under the terms of Public Utilities Code Section 388, the statute that allows state agencies to enter into energy savings contracts, the Department of General Services (DGS) has developed a pool of qualified energy service companies (ESCOs), and oversees projects for most state buildings. DGS has further established a team, developed processes, and cleared obstacles for rapid implementation of ESCO projects at state facilities in the second quarter of 2017. This significantly increased the engagement of utility on-bill financing, and other alternative financing mechanisms to implement energy efficiency projects at state facilities. The university systems and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation implement such contracts for their own buildings. California's Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program website contains additional information.

Forty-eight of California’s 1500 state facilities have ESCO projects implemented, and 20 more facilities have ESCO projects underway. Two large state facilities implemented performance contracts in 2018. ESCO's invested $14 million in energy efficiency loans in state facilities in 2019. In 2019, ESCO projects resulted in over 6 million kWh in annual energy savings. Total energy savings seen in 2019 from all prior years ESCO projects combined equal approximately 57 million kWh.

Last Reviewed: August 2020

Research & Development List All

The California Energy Commission’s Energy Research and Development program sponsors and manages research to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, appliances, industrial processes, food production, agricultural irrigation, and water and wastewater treatment. Energy efficiency research is one of the areas funded by the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) and the Natural Gas Research and Development fund. Other research areas include expanding demand response strategies, encouraging innovative solutions using combined heat and power for energy efficiency or resiliency purposes (including integration with renewable resources or micro-grid technologies), establishing commercial opportunities for micro-grids, creating innovative bioenergy solutions, advancing energy storage, and analysis to inform State energy policy and planning. The program goals are to create and advance new energy solutions, innovative technologies, and approaches, and bring ideas from the lab to the marketplace. These efforts aim to provide benefits to California ratepayers, reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and catalyze the clean energy economy. The R&D programs support applied research, technology demonstration, and market facilitation programs.

Energy efficiency research has focused on advancing energy efficiency technology solutions, such as building envelopes, heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, lighting, equipment controls, consumer electronics, water heating and indoor environmental quality, as well as integrated solutions to make zero net energy buildings and existing building retrofits affordable and cost effective.

In January 2018, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved the Energy Commissions EPIC 2018-2020 Investment Plan. While funding amounts, priorities, and research initiatives and outreach strategies proposed by the Energy Commission were approved, as submitted, several changes were made to administering the EPIC program.

Beginning in 2018, the Energy Commission’s EPIC Program will implement Assembly Bill (AB) 523 (Reyes, Chapter 551, Statutes of 2017), which was signed into law in October 2017 and is effective January 1, 2018. This bill requires specific amounts of EPIC funds be expended on technology demonstration and deployment at sites located in, and benefiting, disadvantaged communities and low-income communities. In 2018, with the passage of Assembly Bill 109 (Ting, Budget Act of 2017, Chapter 249, Statutes of 2017), the California Energy Commission was provided with $66 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). Of this amount, $60 million will be used to establish the Food Production Investment Program (FPIP), which will provide grants, loans, or financial incentives to food processors to implement projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. FPIP has two primary goals, (1) help replace high energy consuming equipment and systems in the food processing industry with market-ready and advanced technologies and equipment, and (2) accelerate the adoption of state-of-the-art energy technologies that can substantially reduce energy use and costs and the associated GHG emissions.

EPIC Program Accomplishments and Highlights

In 2018, the Energy Commission's Energy Efficiency Research Office has 98 active projects totaling more than $228 M, approved 4 new projects totaling more than $8.5 million and has 8 closed projects totaling $13.6 M. Some of the projects in 2018 were focused on:

  • Developing customer centric approach to scaling Integrated Demand Side Management retrofits.
  • Demonstration of cost effective methods to achieving maximum energy efficiency in grocery stores and Big box retail stores.
  • Evaluating the potential of emerging technologies measures and whether the savings can be layered onto existing energy efficiency programs.
  • Automated programmable irrigation management system to increase energy efficiency of irrigation.
  • Demonstration of affordable, comfortable, and grid integrated Zero Net Energy communities.
  • Advanced plug load controls and management in the educational facilities.
  • Automated cloud based continuously optimizing building energy management system.
  • Integrating smart ceiling fans and communicating thermostat in res and non-res buildings.
  • Flexible demand response control strategies for water pumping stations and refrigeration plants.
  • Analysis of Cultural Factors in the Energy Use Patterns of Multifamily Tenants.
  • Analysis of High-Temperature Hybrid Compressed Air Energy Storage.

The University of California-Davis houses the Energy and Efficiency Institute (previously the Energy Efficiency Center), whose mission is to accelerate the development and commercialization of energy efficiency technologies. The Institute includes the California Lighting Technology Center, the Western Cooling Efficiency Center, and the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency.

The University of California-Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment focuses on how to produce comfortable, healthful, and productive indoor environments in the most energy efficient way.

The University of California at Los Angeles’ Center for Energy Science and Technology Advanced Research (CESTAR) lists energy conservation as one of its four major research areas. UCLA developed the Home Energy Efficient Design software tool.

The University of California-Irvine's California Plug Load Research Center (CalPlug) researches efficiency in consumer and commercial electronics.

Last Reviewed: August 2019

Score: 10 out of 12
Buildings Summary List All

California first adopted Building Energy Efficiency Standards in 1978, and has regularly updated them approximately every three years. California’s energy code is considered to be one of the most aggressive and best enforced energy code in the United States, and has been a powerful vehicle for advancing energy-efficiency standards for building components and equipment. The Standards are required by statute to be performance-based, offering flexibility for builders and designers. The code also stands out because it includes field verification (residential) and acceptance testing (nonresidential) requirements for certain measures that are prone to construction defects or improper commissioning, and because high compliance rates overall are reported for requirements for newly constructed buildings. California is working toward the goal of achieving zero net energy in the 2020 Standards for residential buildings and 2030 Standards for nonresidential buildings.  

Residential Codes List All

The 2019 California Energy Code for low-rise residential buildings took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and is the first in the nation to require photovoltaic (PV) systems. The standards were officially published by the International Code Council (ICC) as the California Energy Code (CEC) on July 1, 2019. Energy Code residential performance requirements are expressed in terms of Energy Design Ratings (EDRs), with an index scoring system aligned with RESNET’s 100-point scale, using a 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) reference building. The Energy Code establishes two separate EDRs, one for energy only and the other for photovoltaic systems and other demand response (DR) measures (such as battery storage and DR-controlled Heat pump Water Heaters). In June 2017 the California Energy Commission certified to U.S. DOE that the 2016 Energy Code exceeded IECC 2015 by 29% on average for the residential building types analyzed).  Compared to the 2016 Energy Code, the 2019 Energy Code saves an additional 79% of electricity, 17% of demand, and 9% of natural gas for single-family buildings, and 53% on an energy cost basis. The 2019 Energy Code reduces the energy consumption of homes built compared to the 2015 IECC by roughly 80%, using California’s Time Dependent Valuation metric. They cut the carbon footprint of homes built to California’s prior 2016 Energy Code in half.

In 2021, the CEC adopted the 2022 Energy Code with an effective date of January 1, 2023. The amendments in this triennial update that apply to residential buildings include amendments that shift the baseline for minimum building performance as well as for prescriptive compliance to the use of heat pumps for space and/or water heating, as well as establish first in the nation requirements for installing both solar photovoltaic and battery storage systems into high-rise multifamily buildings.

The 2022 amendments, on a statewide basis, would annually save approximately 33 million therms of fossil fuel natural gas and 1.3 billion kWh of electricity across the combination of both residential and commercial buildings relative to the 2019 Energy Code.  This represents a reduction of 358,130 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions annually, and a total reduction of 71.46 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2050, per the Environmental Impact Report prepared as a part of the rulemaking.

Last Reviewed: September 2022

Commercial Code List All

The 2019 California Energy Code for nonresidential and high-rise residential buildings and hotels took effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The Code protects indoor air quality through MERV 13 filters (also for low-rise residential) and by continuing significantly higher outdoor air requirements than ASHRAE 62.1. The Code made strong upgrades to LED-based lighting levels, expanded demand response control requirements, and adopted in collaboration with the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, the first energy efficiency standards for hospitals, among other changes. In September 2016 the California Energy Commission certified to U.S. DOE that the 2016 Energy Code exceeds ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2013 by 13% on average for the nonresidential building types analyzed. This is a greater energy savings than the 7.9% savings that DOE found for the Standard 90.1-2016 over Standard 90.1-2013. Compared to the 2016 Standards, the 2019 Standards result in an aggregate 10.7% improvement in nonresidential building energy efficiency, further extending the margin of savings for the 2019 Energy Code compared to Standard 90.1-2016.

The 2022 amendments, on a statewide basis, would annually save approximately 33 million therms of fossil fuel natural gas and 1.3 billion kWh of electricity across the combination of both residential and commercial buildings relative to the 2019 Energy Code.  This represents a reduction of 358,130 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions annually, and a total reduction of 71.46 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2050, per the Environmental Impact Report prepared as a part of the rulemaking.

Last Reviewed: September 2022

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in collaboration with the Energy Commission, adopted the state’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan (“Strategic Plan”), presenting a single roadmap to achieve maximum energy savings across all major groups and sectors in California. This comprehensive Strategic Plan for 2009 to 2020 represents the state’s first integrated framework of goals and strategies for saving energy, covering government, utility, and private sector actions, and holds energy efficiency to its role as the highest priority resource in meeting California’s energy needs. The Strategic Plan established the Big Bold Energy Efficiency Strategies (BBEES), which call for all newly constructed residential buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2020 and all newly constructed Commercial buildings by 2030. The Codes and Standards Action Plan and Zero Net Energy Action Plan add detail to the Strategic Plan.  In addition, the CPUC/IOUs on an ongoing basis conduct EM&V studies to investigate ways to improve compliance with the Standards. The IOU Compliance Enhancement Program developed a Best Practices report in 2012based on a gap analysis of seven building departments.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: The CPUC completed evaluations of building energy code compliance for the 2006-2008 program cycle in 2010 and for the 2010-2012 cycle in 2014. Reports can be found on the CALMAC website.
    • In October 2014 the CPUC completed the “Statewide Codes and Standards Program Impact Evaluation Report For Program Years 2010-2012.” In April 2015 BayREN completed the “BayREN Codes and Standards, Permit Resource Opportunity Program - PROP Final Report and Energy Code Resource Guide.” In January 2017 the CPUC completed the “Codes and Standards Compliance Improvement Program Years 2013-14 Process Evaluation.” The CPUC completed the 2013-2015 Impact Evaluation. The “California Statewide Codes and Standards Program Impact Evaluation Report Volume Two: T-24 Building Standards,” which assessed compliance with the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, was published in June 2017.
    • In 2021, the CPUC completed the Appliance Standards Evaluation Vol. 1 for the 2016-2018 program cycle. The report can be found on the CALMAC website. Volume 2 addressing building codes will come at a later date (delay due to COVID 19).             
  • Utility Involvement: California codes are supported by IOU incentive and rebate programs. Besides utility incentive programs, they develop and deliver building energy code training to a variety of stakeholders including builders, building departments, trades people, engineers, and architects in support of increase compliance. Regulatory guidelines have been established in Public Resources Code §25402.7 requiring significant utility involvement in supporting building energy code compliance. The CPUC has authorized the IOUs to support standards development since the early 2000s. Since 2008, the CPUC has authorized the IOUs to claim savings from standards development activities and to specifically develop and implement actions to support compliance improvement and standards implementation.
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: The Energy Commission works with numerous collaborative stakeholder groups and organizations, which focus on improving code compliance throughout the state. These groups meet on a monthly, quarterly, and/or annual basis and include: Regional Energy Networks (RENs), including the Bay Area REN (BayREN), Southern California REN (SoCalREN), and Tri-County REN (3C-REN); enforcement agency and Code groups, including the California Building Officials (CALBO), County Building Officials Association of California (CBOAC), International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and International Code Council (ICC) regional chapters; and industry groups, including the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), Associated Lighting Representatives (ALR), International Brotherhood of Electrical Works (IBEW), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries (IHACI), regional Construction Specifications Institutes (CSI), regional Building Owners and Managers Associations (BOMA), regional County Contractors Associations, regional Builders/Contractors Exchanges, and California Association of Building Energy Consultants (CABEC).
  • Training/Outreach: The Energy Commission conducts extensive outreach and education concerning the California Energy Code (Title 24, Part 6) for enforcement agencies and the industry, to assist with compliance and enforcement. Such efforts include staffing exhibitor booths to distribute educational materials at over a dozen events, and developing and providing over 200 hundred hours of in-person training on the newly adopted 2019 CA Energy Code at: California Building Official (CALBO) education events, Redwood Empire Rebuild Green and Construction Technology Expos, Sacramento Valley Association of Building Officials (SVABO) Minstitute, Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC), National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) annual meeting, International Code Council (ICC) chapter meetings, County Building Officials Association of California (CBOAC) annual events, California Association of Building Energy Consultants (CABEC) annual events, American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter meetings, International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) meetings, Associated Lighting Representatives (ALR) meetings, and the Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries (IHACI) annual events. 
  • Also, the Energy Commission develops and publishes hundreds of resources to help facilitate compliance and enforcement with the Energy Code, including the Blueprint newsletter (published quarterly), webinars, fact sheets, quick references, guides, counter cards, and presentations. All of these resources are located on the Energy Commission's Online Resource Center (ORC) at:
  • The Energy Commission also staffs an Energy Standards Hotline, which responds to technical inquiries about the Energy Code from homeowners, consultants, architects/engineers, builders/contractors, and enforcement agencies. The Hotline responded to over 9,000 Energy Code technical inquiries last year.
  • New efforts on behalf of the Energy Commission for this past year included: updating Energy Commission webpages and publications to meet accessibility requirements; updating and making all of the 2019 nonresidential certificate of compliance (NRCC) forms dynamic; updating and creating dynamic 2019 residential compliance forms for non-HERS projects; creating a hyperlinked version of the 2019 Energy Code and adding an index; updating and creating 2019 Energy Code resources and publications, including: 2019 changes summaries and infographics, 2019 cool roof brochures, and 2019 water heating efficiency guides and counter cards; and significantly expanding outreach bandwidth in response to an increased demand for 2019 Energy Code trainings for contractors/builders and colleges, including the: National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), All Weather Architectural Aluminum, American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), Nevada County Contractors Association, Valley Contractors Exchange, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), OJ Insulation, newly developed 3C-REN network in the central valley, and Diablo Valley College.
  • Throughout 2019, the Statewide Codes and Standards Compliance Improvement (CI) Subprogram, which is implemented by California’s investor owned utilities in collaboration with the California Energy Commission (CEC), continued to employ a systematic approach to enacting behavior change throughout the building and appliance efficiency supply chains. The three-pronged performance improvement approach addresses the essential elements of behavior change by providing 1) training to impart the
    knowledge and skills necessary to comply, 2) outreach to increase awareness and motivation, and 3) tools and resources to empower people to take the desired action. The work is delivered through the CI Subprogram’s Energy Code Ace platform and responds directly to key market actor’s unique workflow and needs.
  • In 2019, the CI Subprogram delivered more than 190 classes across eight modalities and dozens of roles. The Subprogram reached more than 3,600 students and achieved a 98 percent satisfaction rate and 18 percent knowledge swing, on average. While continuing to deliver training, the Subprogram facilitated updating the Energy Code Ace curriculum, online tools and resource library in preparation for the 2019 Energy Code which became effective January 1, 2020. The CI Subprogram’s target audience now includes the healthcare industry and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) plan reviewers and inspectors. The CEC and CI Subprogram began developing tools and training for the healthcare building practitioners who must now comply with 2019 Energy Code requirements for hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
  • The CI Subprogram worked alongside the Energy Commission in developing a “TurboTax” style online interface that building industry practitioners are now using to document and verify compliance for nonresidential additions and alterations. This enhanced version of the CI Subprogram’s Forms Ace builds on the dynamic PDF compliance forms launched last year. The new interface guides permit applicants and the design community through important compliance decisions while completing the applicable forms, and enables collaboration between key decision makers in the construction process. Forms generated by the enhanced Forms Ace help expedite plan review by indicating project compliance.
  • The CI subprogram continued outreach efforts including targeted email messages, ads, articles in industry publications and participation in more than 65 Title 24, Part 6 and Title 20 (Appliance Standards) industry events in 2019, often alongside CEC staff. Additionally, the CI Subprogram fielded over 1,125 emails from industry professionals, responding through e-mail conversations and/or in-depth phone calls with multiple types of code practitioners.
  • The CI subprogram also continued supporting the development of Certified Energy Analysts (CEAs) through a new curriculum, mentoring program and exam proctoring while updating the CEA exam for the 2019 energy code requirements.

Last Reviewed: September 2022

CHP Summary List All

California has implemented a variety of policies to encourage CHP including interconnection standards, incentive programs, financial assistance, and additional supportive policies. In 2018, five new CHP installations were completed.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: Rule 21

Description: California was among the first states to establish a standard interconnection policy for distributed generation. Approved in 2000, Rule 21 applies to CHP and other DG systems up to 10 MW. It has been adopted as a model by all three major investor-owned utilities and follows the established technical guidelines of the IEEE 1547 interconnection standard.

In September 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission enacted several major changes to Rule 21 for the first time since 2000. Changes include a "fast track" application process for systems that meet certain size standards, as well as several detailed study options for larger facilities.

Last Updated: July 2018

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

CHP in energy efficiency standards: There is currently no portfolio standard in place under which CHP is eligible, but two state policies set targets for CHP deployment in California. One is Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which calls for 4,000 megawatts (MW) of new CHP resources to result in 6.7 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas reductions. This policy was expanded through the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2016. The second is the Governor’s Clean Energy Jobs Program, which calls for the addition of 6,500 MW of CHP by 2030.

Under Assembly Bill 1890 (1996) and Assembly Bill 995 (2000), California established a "loading order" that calls for first pursuing all cost-effective efficiency resources to meet new load. The CPUC considers CHP a key element of this loading order, which is a guiding principle that specifies the state's general preference to pursue opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable generation before constructing new fossil fueled generation resources.

CHP programs:  The state and investor-owned utilities are running several programs designed to acquire cost-effective CHP energy resources. The Qualifying Facilities and CHP Program Settlement is the primary mechanism to require electric utilities to acquire new, efficient CHP resources. A technology incentive is also available through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which provides incentive payments to support the commercialization of new, efficient CHP technologies, among other eligible technologies.

Production Goal: The Qualifying Facilities and CHP Program Settlement established a mandatory requirement for California's three large electric utilities to procure a minimum of 3,000 MW of CHP by 2015 and sufficient capacity and energy from efficient CHP facilities to acheive 2.72 MMTCO2e of emissions reductions by 2020. The program was recently updated in a long-term procurement planning decision (D.15-06-028), which reduced previous procurement targets and required the electric utilities to hold solicitations between 2015 and 2020 to procure energy and capacity from efficient CHP resources sufficient to achieve 2.72 MMTCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

Revenue streams: CHP systems in California have access to a feed-in tariff (FIT), which establishes a price paid and approved standard offer contracts for the purchase of excess electricity from eligible CHP generators.  Public Utilities Code 2840 directs the CPUC, the California Energy Commission, and the Air Resources Board to implement the Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act, which required the CPUC to establish a feed-in tariff for CHP systems that are smaller than 20 MW, in operation after January 1, 2008, and highly efficient (operating above a 62% total efficiency). The Measurement and Verification requirements were updated in 2016 to reduce deployment barriers. 

Additionally, the California Public Utilities Commission’s implementation of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 provides CHP facilities that have a capacity of less than or equal to 20 MW and that have federal qualifying facility certification with an opportunity to execute a standard offer contract. This contract provides energy payments at the utility’s short run avoided cost and administratively-set capacity payments.

Last Updated: July 2018

Deployment IncentivesList All

Incentives, grants, or financing: CHP systems may have access to grants and loans through the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which provides incentives to customers who produce electricity from a variety of sources. Beginning in 2017, all gas generation projects within the SGIP program must blend a minimum of renewable fuel with the gas fueling the SGIP project. In 2019 that amount must be at least 50% of the total fuel input, rising each year to 100% in 2020. 15% of the program's budget is avaialable for CHP. This program is thus much less supportive of traditional natural gas-fueled CHP than previously, and will impact a smaller portion of the CHP market, namely, those potential projects that are located near an affordable source of high quality biogas, since pipeline-grade renewable biogas is currently more expensive than regular natural gas.

Net metering: Under California's net energy metering (NEM) tariff, participating customers receive a bill credit for excess generation that is exported to the electric grid. On a month-to-month basis, bill credits for excess generation are applied to a customer's bill at the retail rate. At the end of a customer's 12-month billing period, any balance of surplus electricity is trued-up at a separate fair market value, known as net surplus compensation (NSC), which is based on a 12-month rolling average of the market for energy.

As of July 1, 2017, each investor-owned utility (IOU) offers a NEM successsor tarriff that was adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2016 (AB 327, 2013). The tarriff makes adjustments to align the costs of NEM successor customers more closely with those of non-NEM customers. Among the new elements to NEM made by the decision is a requirement that NEM successor customers must pay non-bypassable charges on each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity they consume from the grid. Customer-sited CHP facilities are eligible for both NEM tariffs if they are fueled by eligible renewable fuels.

Following passage of AB-1613 in 2007, a feed-in tariff (F-I-T) was established for CHP systems no larger than 20 MW that met specified emissions and efficiency criteria. Seven facilities totaling 45 MW of nameplate capacity received or pursued such contracts.

Last Updated: August 2019

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

California provides CHP-focused technical assistance through the Center for Sustainable Energy and through the California Energy Commission, which provides information on air permitting, demand response with CHP, financial incentives for CHP projects, and other issues. California also provides technical assistance through the investor-owned electric utilities, which assist CHP facilities in meeting the eligibility and interconnection requirements of the standard offer contracts available through the state's CHP feed-in-tarrif and the state's implementation of PURPA.

The CA IOUs frequently issue Requests for Offers (RFOs) for Local Capacity Resources (LCRs). Most of these RFOs are targeted specifically at renewable Distributed Generation (DG) and/or energy storage resources. Some RFOs are open to qualified natural gas CHP, albeit without the preference points given to renewable resources. For example, a 2015 CPUC decision allows Southern California Gas Company to provide Distributed Energy Resources (DERS) Tariff, which offers customers a fully elective, optional tariff under which SoCalGas would design, own and maintain CHP facilities on a customer's premise and charge the customer market-based prices for the service. 

The state also has policies to encourage the use of renewable-fueled CHP systems. In addition to offering incentives through the SGIP that are higher for projects powered with renewable fuels, the CPUC also began administering a bioenergy feed-in tariff in 2014, for which bioenergy projects are eligible. State Law SB 859 requires electricity retailers to collectively procure a total of 125 MW of energy from dead/dying trees.

California launched the BioMAT Program in 2015 for bioenergy generators less than 5 MW in size. A total of 250 MWs were made available to eligible projects through fixed price standard contracts to export electricity to one of CA’s three IOUs. Heat utilization is optional, and CHP can enhance the economics when a suitable thermal host is on site or nearby. Through 2018, there have been 22 signed contracts for 33 MW of capacity statewide.

Escalation of wildfires in the State have heightened attention on grid resiliency. PG&E, which has been hardest hit by the fires, is implementing a pre-emptive de-energization program and is planning for strategic “Resiliency Zones” with local power capability. Thus far, the plans for these Zones have included capability for grid isolated operation, hardening of transmission and distribution lines, and interconnection hookups for mobile generation sources. However, CHP has not been receiving much attention.

Last Updated: August 2019

Score: 15 out of 15
Utilities Summary List All

California is a long-time leading state for its utility-sector customer energy efficiency programs, which date back to the 1970s and have grown and evolved substantially over four decades. Investor-owned utilities administer energy efficiency programs with oversight by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which establishes key policies and guidelines, sets program goals, and approves spending levels. The state's publicly-owned utilities (POUs) also administer customer programs. All of the investor-owned electric and gas utilities in California have decoupling, which has been in place for many years and is an integral part of California's "big, bold" energy efficiency initiative. Utilities may also earn performance incentives for energy efficiency efforts. 

In October 2015, California enacted SB 350, calling on state agencies and utilities to work together to double cumulative efficiency savings by 2030. In August 2019, the CPUC adopted updated 10-year efficiency goals for the state's major electric and gas IOUs. Over the first five years (2020-2025) targets translate to roughly 1.6% gross electric savings and 0.6% gross gas savings, including codes & standards supportive efforts (link). 

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last reviewed: August 2020

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Investor-owned utilities administer energy efficiency programs with oversight by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which establishes key policies and guidelines, sets program goals, and approves spending levels. Investor-owned utilities and third-party contractors implement the programs. A share of public benefits funding is designated to go to non-utility organizations to offer programs that supplement and complement those of the IOUs and POUs. California's publicly-owned utilities (POUs), such as large municipal utilities serving Los Angeles and Sacramento, also administer and provide programs to their customers.

Several utilities provide on-bill financing. More information may be found in the ACEEE report, Energy Efficiency Financing Programs.

California also supports energy efficiency programs through funds collected as part of its AB 32 cap and trade program. AB 32's original requirement was for California to reduce its GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a target it reached four years early. AB 32 authorizes the collection of a fee from sources of GHGs, including oil refineries, electricity power plants (including imported electricity), cement plants, and food processors. Funds collected are used to provide staffing, contracts, and equipment to the Air Resources Board (ARB) and other state agencies to implement AB 32. In 2016, SB 32 was passed to further require the state to reduce statewide GHG emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2030.

Beginning in fiscal year 2013-2014, California has particularly targeted energy efficiency improvements in schools. The California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Prop. 39) changed the corporate income tax code and allocated projected revenue to California's General Fund and the Clean Energy Job Creation Fund for five fiscal years. Under the initiative, roughly $550 million annually is available for appropriation by the Legislature for eligible projects to improve energy efficiency and expand clean energy generation in schools.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last reviewed: August 2020

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

California has established energy efficiency as its highest priority energy resource for procurement of new resources. Under Assembly Bill 1890 (1996) and Assembly Bill 995 (2000), California has established a “loading order” that calls for first pursuing all cost-effective efficiency resources, then using cost-effective renewable resources. Only then may conventional energy sources be used to meet new load.  As authorized under California Public Utility Code § 454.55-56, the CPUC has established aggressive targets and associated funding for energy efficiency programs.

In Decision 12-11-015 the CPUC directed IOUs, regional energy networks, and community choice aggregators to apply a market spillover effects adder of 5% to their program tracking claims, acknowledging the impacts of energy efficiency programs on the market overall.

In August 2019, in a move that helps align efficiency programs with the state's climate goals, the CPUC issued a decision modifying the state's energy efficiency three-prong test related to fuel subsitution (LINK). The policy update makes possible the wider use of energy efficiency funds for electrification efforts by making several adjustments to fuel substitution requirements, including clarification that the baseline against which fuel substitution measures are compared is consistent with other measures in the EE portfolio; specifying that the environmental impact will be measured in terms of CO2 emissions; updating the method for determining energy savings from the fuel source used in a way that accounts for the growing portion of renewable energy; and clarifying that fuel subsitution measures should no longer be required to pass a cost-effectiveness threshold at the measure level.

California has effectively doubled its energy efficiency goals as a result of SB 350, passed in October 2015. This bill requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to establish annual targets for statewide energy efficiency savings and demand reduction that will achieve a cumulative doubling of statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas final end uses of retail customers by January 1, 2030. In August 2019, the CPUC adopted updated 10-year efficiency goals for the state's major electric and gas IOUs. Over the first five years (2020-2025) targets translate to roughly 1.6% gross electric savings and 0.6% gross gas savings, including codes & standards supportive efforts (link).

Last reviewed: August 2020

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Summary: Electric: Incremental savings targets average about 1.6% (gross) of retail sales from 2020-2025. Natural Gas: Incremental savings target of ~0.6% (gross) from 2020-2025.

Following California’s 2001 electricity crisis, the main state resource agencies worked together along with the state’s utilities and other key stakeholders and developed the California Integrated Energy Policy Report that included energy savings goals for the state’s IOUs. The CPUC formalized the goals in Decision 04-09-060 in September 2004. The goals called for electricity use reductions in 2013 of 23 billion kWh and peak demand reductions of 4.9 million kW from programs operated over the 2004–2013 period. The natural gas goals were set at 67 MMTh per year by 2013.

The California Legislature emphasized the importance of energy efficiency and established broad goals with the enactment of Assembly Bill 2021 of 2006. The bill required the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and other interested parties to develop efficiency savings and demand reduction targets for the next 10 years. Having already developed interim efficiency goals for each of the IOUs from 2004 through 2013, the CPUC developed new electric and natural gas goals in 2008 for years 2012 through 2020, which call for 16,300 GWh of gross electric savings over the 9-year period (see CPUC Decision 08-07-047). 

In 2015, California essentially doubled its energy efficiency goals by passing SB 350.  This bill requires the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to establish annual targets for statewide energy efficiency savings and demand reduction that will achieve a cumulative doubling of statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas final end uses of retail customers by January 1, 2030. The bill requires the PUC to establish efficiency targets for electric and gas corporations consistent with this goal. It also requires local publicly-owned electric utilities to establish annual targets for energy efficiency savings and demand reduction consistent with this goal. In May 2016, the CPUC reported initial estimates of the impact of SB350, available here

In August 2019, the CPUC adopted updated 10-year efficiency goals for the state's major electric and gas IOUs. Over the first five years (2020-2025) targets translate to roughly 1.6% gross electric savings and 0.6% gross gas savings, including codes & standards supportive efforts (link).

Last reviewed: August 2020

Utility Business Model List All

California initially implemented decoupling through the Supply Adjustment Mechanism (SAM) for gas utilities beginning in 1978 (Decision 88835). By 1982, similar mechanisms were in place for the three electric IOUs. As the gas industry restructured, gas utilities began to serve large customers under a straight fixed-variable rate design, which continues through today. The CPUC stopped the electric decoupling mechanisms in 1996 due to restructuring of the electric power industry. 

In 2001, the Legislature passed Section 739.10, which required that the CPUC resume decoupling. Decoupling resumed for Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric beginning with the 2004 revenue requirement. Currently, the revenue decoupling program is combined with performance incentives for meeting or exceeding energy efficiency targets. Revenue requirements are adjusted for customer growth, productivity, weather, and inflation on an annual basis with rate cases every three or four years, varying by utility.

Decoupling mechanisms have been developed and applied in individual cases with the IOUs. All of the investor-owned electric and gas utilities have decoupling, which has been in place for many years and is an integral policy for California's "big, bold" energy efficiency initiative (CA Code Sec. 9 Section 739(3) and Sec. 10 Section 739.10 as amended by A.B. XI 29; Decisions 98-03-063 & 07-09-043).

The California Public Utilities Commission defined a new Energy Savings and Performance Incentive (ESPI) for investor-owned utilities in Rulemaking 12-01-005. Decision 13-09-023 (September 2013) allocates incentive earnings among four major categories: Energy Efficiency Resource Savings; Ex Ante Review Process Performance; Codes and Standards Advocacy Programs; and Non-Resource Program: 

  • Incentives for energy efficiency resource savings are capped at 9% of resource program expenditures.
  • Incentives for successful implementation of ex ante "lock down" are based on performance scores and are paid as an award of up to 3% of resource program expenditures.
  • Incentives are also provided for utility involvement in codes and standards programs in the form of a management fee equal to 12% of approved program expenditures.
  • For non-resource programs, utilities may earn a management fee equal to 3% of non-resource program expenditures (exclusive of administrative costs).

D.13.09.023 directs Commission staff to identify deemed measures with sufficiently uncertain ex ante savings parameters such that the savings claim should be subject to ex post verification in order to be included in the incentive payment. For the purposes of the ESPI mechanism, "sufficiently uncertain" measures are defined as those measures for which the Commission believes the net lifetime savings of the current DEER or non-DEER savings estimate may be as much as 50% or more under- or over-estimated.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: total resource cost test and utility cost test 

  •  Secondary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: None

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in California relies on regulatory orders (CPUC Decision 09-09-047). Utilities and the California Public Utilities Commission administer evaluations. The CPUC oversees EM&V studies for investor-owned utility, regional energy network (REN), and Community Choice Aggregator (CCA) programs. Evaluation information is available on the CPUC web site here, and historical evaluation reports dating to the 1990s are available on CalMAC.  

California has established formal rules and procedures for evaluation, which are in Decision 09-09-047. Evaluations are conducted statewide and for each of the utilities. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in CPUC Decision 05-04-051.  According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), California currently specifies the TRC and UCT to be its primary cost-effectiveness tests. These benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio screening. Non-energy benefits (NEBs) included in California’s tests include avoided costs of compliance with emissions regulations. 

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for California is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP). Further information on health and environmental benefits is available in ACEEE’s Overview of State Approaches to Account for Health and Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency.


Last reviewed: July 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

California’s Long Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan, first adopted in 2008 and updated in 2011, establishes a goal for the Commission's Energy Savings Assistance Program that, by 2020, 100% of eligible and willing customers will have received all cost-effective low-income energy efficiency measures.

The CPUC’s ESA program installs weatherization and energy efficiency measures, provides minor home repairs, and offers energy education at no cost to income-eligible program participants. Per code, income eligibility for the ESA program is currently set at 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG). Eligibility will increase to 250% of the FPG starting July 1, 2022. The program is funded by ratepayers as part of a statutory public purpose program surcharge that appears on monthly utility bills, with the goal to reduce energy consumption, resulting in bill savings, while also increasing the health, comfort, and/or safety of the household. 

Public Utility Code Section 2790 requires an electrical or gas corporation to perform home weatherization services for low-income customers. A utility must balance the cost effectiveness of the weatherization services and the policy of reducing the hardships low-income households face. It is set in code that by 2020, 100% of all eligible and willing low-income customers will be given the opportunity to participate in the program. An ongoing aspiration for the program is that it will be an energy resource by delivering increasingly cost-effective and longer-term savings to participants. For each budget cycle, the CPUC establishes program funding, and goals and targets, for each utility through a Decision. Code also requires that program funding be no less than what was authorized in 1996, based on an assessment of customer need, thereby providing a baseline of funding.

In two new 2021 Decisions (D.21-06-015 and D.21-10-023), the CPUC established new ESA program goals for the IOUs based on energy savings, replacing the previous goals based on the number of homes treated. The Decision also established new ESA budgets, new homes treated targets (not goals), and other requirements related to cost-effectiveness and new multi-family and pilot programs. 

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Currently, the CPUC applies the Energy Savings Assistance Program Cost Effectiveness Test (ESACET) to the low-income weatherization program known as ESA. This cost-effectiveness test incorporates participant and utility non-energy benefits to accurately capture demand-side management (DSM) impacts to the portion of the California housing stock in which low-income customers reside.

Although the CPUC does not mandate a 1.0 ESACET threshold for the IOUs to meet, they continue to encourage the IOUs to seek ways to increase the program’s cost effectiveness through providing deeper energy saving treatments, accurately valuing and accounting for NEBs, and through reduced costs in administration and overhead to achieve a 0.70 ESACET portfolio average.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with the California Department of Community Services & Development's Low-Income Programs

The California Department of Community Services & Development (CSD) administers the Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP), which installs solar photovoltaics, solar hot water heaters, and energy efficiency measures in low-income single family and multi-family dwellings in low-income communities to reduce GHG emissions and save energy. LIWP is funded through AB 32 cap-and-trade auction revenues and has been allocated a total of $212 million since 2014 from the state budgets. Decision 16-11-022 directed the large investor-owned utilities to work with the Community Services and Development’s low-income weatherization programs on various fronts, including setting up a data sharing plan and establishing a referral process between the ESA Program and CSD’s program for identified customers with high energy burden and non-IOU fuel sources. The IOUs and CSD also set up a cost-sharing process where the ESA Program reimburses LIWP for installed measures that are common to both programs, thereby preserving LIWP funds for measures that the ESA Program does not provide.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with SB350

SB 350 was passed in 2015 establishing annual savings targets to achieve a cumulative doubling of statewide energy efficiency savings by 2030. The bill mentions no specific low-income energy efficiency targets, but it does direct the California Energy Commission to publish a study on barriers for low-income customers to energy efficiency and weatherization investments, including those in disadvantaged communities, as well as recommendations on how to increase access to energy efficiency and weatherization investments for low-income customers. SB 350 Barriers Study updates can be found here.

Last reviewed: July 2022

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

California does not have structures in place for large customers to self-direct energy efficiency efforts or to opt-out from funding energy efficiency programs. 

Last reviewed: August 2020

Data AccessList All

Guidelines for Third Party Access

In May 2014, the Commission approved Decision (D.) 14-05-016, adopting rules to provide eligible third-party access to energy usage and usage-related data within IOU territories. The decision directed the CA IOUs to establish the Energy Data Request and Release Process (EDRP), which is underway, as well as an Energy Data Access Committee comprised of relevant stakeholders to serve as an informal advisory body. 

Data to third parties are transmitted via utilities’ Green Button Connect platforms. Depending on the use case, data may be transmitted in various levels of aggregation via FTP sites, CSV download, or in other formats as requested by parties.

Eligibility to receive aggregated energy usage data is restricted to academic researchers, local government departments, and their consultants, State Agencies. Use cases involving requests for commercial purposes, including market research for commercial energy services, are not eligible. Eligibility for accessing aggregated customer energy usage data is based on the use cases of the requesting party, which are detailed in D.14-05-016. The EDRP process includes utility requirements for verifying requesting parties, who are also required to sign an NDA with the utility or adhere to the utility’s Terms and Conditions. 

For third party access to customer-specific data, utilities require third parties to register with their Green Button Connect platform, and third party users are required to complete an IT test prior to connecting to utility data. Third party data access requires certain IT specifications, such as security and assurance that the third party system can provide the SSL certificate to connect to a utility’s data system.

Data requests and responses are made using secure HTTPS protocol and are authenticated via a two-way certificate exchange with the utility. Requesters need to implement security certificates for secure inbound and outbound API communication.

California investor-owned utilities do not charge a fee for providing data. Costs incurred by utilities for data management and request fulfilment are tracked in a balancing account and funded through general rate cases.

Data provided via Green Button Connect platforms contain both usage and billing information for 12 months of customer usage, either hourly or at 15-minute intervals.

Requirements for Provision of Energy Use Data

Decision (D.) 14-05-016 creates a process whereby entities can request energy usage and usage-related data from utilities and receive action on the request and resolution of disputes over access to data.

AB 1103 (Cal. Pub. Res. Code 25402.10(b)) requires utilities to deliver Whole Building Usage Information (WBUI) to building owners for nonresidential buildings covered by the Act “in a manner that preserves the confidentiality of the customer.” Currently, WBUI provision has been interpreted by the IOUs to exclude buildings with fewer than 15 tenants. Building owners must still acquire permission from tenants to access whole building information via Green Button Connect.

D.13-09-025 authorizes the provision of customer energy data to third parties upon customer request via Customer Data Access or Green Button Connect.

D. 14-05-016 also directs utilities, after informing the Commission, to provide energy data to state and federal government entities that need data to fulfill statutory obligations and request such data pursuant to this decision. 

Pursuant to California’s landmark legislation, AB802, every utility in California is required, as of January 1, 2017, to provide a year's worth of monthly energy consumption for an entire building to an owner (or owner's agent) upon request, provided that building consists of three or more commercial utility accounts or five or more accounts, if any are residential. A utility has four weeks to respond to a request and provide the information directly to the owner or upload it to the owner's Energy Star Portfolio Manager account. Portfolio Manager is an EPA created online tool that enables owners to benchmark their properties in a secure online environment.

Energy Use Data Availability

The data request and release process enables IOUs to grant requests for aggregated usage data by university researchers, state and federal agencies, and local governments. 

The CPUC has directed each investor-owned utility to maintain a data request portal on their websites where Energy Data Request Process details for aggregated data can be found. D.14-05-016 describes the EDRP requirements for each use case, but all are bound by either NDA or Terms and Conditions to receive data. Formats vary depending on user preference. The utilities are required to notify the Executive Director four weeks prior to delivery of any new data sets to requesting parties. The utilities must also file quarterly advice letters with updates to the “data catalogs” that each utility is required to maintain. This information is detailed on the utility websites, which can be located from this web page:

Last reviewed: July 2019

Score: 12 out of 13
Transportation Summary List All

California has some of the most comprehensive transportation and land-use planning policies in the nation.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

Light-duty vehicles: The 2002 passage of Assembly Bill 1493 (Pavley) in California was the first time that a law in the U.S. addressed the issue of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cars and light trucks. In 2004, California adopted a new set of vehicle emission standards to implement the Pavley law. The regulations required automakers to produce vehicles that, on average, reduce GHG by about 30% from 2002 levels by 2016. Increased efficiency with improved vehicle technology is the primary method for obtaining these reductions. Several other states have adopted California’s emissions program. With the adoption of more stringent federal standards in April 2010, for model years 2012-2016, California’s vehicle emission standards harmonized with the federal greenhouse gas and fuel economy programs.

In 2012, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted new light duty vehicle GHG standards for model years 2017 to 2025, calling for a fleet-wide average increase in stringency of between 4-5% per year over those years. In 2012, California also updated the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program that requires increasing production of plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel-cell electric vehicles from 2018 to 2025.

In 2016, CARB jointly published a draft Technical Assessment Report with the U.S. EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, conveying an updated cost and technology feasibility for the current standards. In January 2017, the U.S. EPA and CARB released reports finalizing their reviews, and concluded the current standards remain feasible. In April 2018, the U.S. EPA issued a revised Final Determination announcing their plans to re-open the national vehicle standards and California, along with 16 other states, filed a lawsuit opposing that action.

In November 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit against U.S. EPA for attacking California’s advanced clean car standards.

Heavy-duty vehicles: In August 1998, CARB identified particulate matter (PM) exhaust from diesel-fueled engines as a toxic air contaminant. CARB adopted a Diesel Risk Reduction Plan in September 2000, which recommends a number of control measures to reduce the risks associated with diesel particulate matter and achieve a goal of 75 percent PM reduction by 2010 and 85 percent by 2020.

In 2000, CARB adopted the Fleet Rule for Transit Agencies to reduce diesel PM and oxides of nitrogen emissions from urban buses and transit fleet vehicles.

In 2004, CARB adopted the Solid Waste Collection Rule to reduce emissions from solid waste collection vehicles.

In 2005, CARB approved the Fleet Rule for Public Agencies to reduce diesel PM emissions from fleets operated by public agencies and utilities.

In 2007, CARB approved the Drayage Regulation to reduce emissions from drayage trucks transporting cargo to and from California’s ports and intermodal rail yards.

In 2008, California adopted new GHG regulations to reduce emissions through the fuel efficiency improvement of tractor-trailers. Between 2010 and 2020, tractor-trailers became subject to stringent fuel economy regulations. Also in 2008, California adopted the In-Use Off-road Diesel-fueled Regulation to reduce emissions of diesel PM, oxides of nitrogen, other criteria pollutants, and greenhouse gases from off-road diesel-fueled vehicles.

In 2009, California adopted the Truck and Bus Regulation to reduce emissions of diesel PM, oxides of nitrogen, other criteria pollutants, and GHG from privately and federally owned on-road heavy-duty diesel-fueled vehicles.

In 2013, CARB adopted California Phase 1 GHG regulations that were identical to the federal Phase 1 regulations. This provided California the authority to certify new California certified engines and vehicles to the Phase 1 standards, as well as enforce those standards. Although the Phase 1 GHG standards will reduce emissions below the baseline of what they would be without any standards in place, they are not enough to offset the projected growth in heavy-duty truck vehicle miles traveled (VMT). From around 2023 forward, without standards stricter than Phase 1, GHG emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks would increase each year. California will need a second phase of GHG standards, the Phase 2 GHG standards, in order to offset that projected VMT growth and keep heavy-duty truck CO2 emissions declining.

In 2018, CARB adopted the Innovative Clean Transit Regulation, requiring all public transit agencies to gradually transition to a 100% zero-emission bus fleet and encouraging them to provide innovative “first and last-mile connectivity” and improved mobility for transit riders, recognizing that people are more inclined to take transit if it meshes well with the travel modes they will use for the non-transit portion of their journey.

In 2019, Senate Bill (SB) 210 directed CARB to develop a Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program. Engine and vehicle standards for new heavy-duty vehicles have considerably reduced emissions from the heavy-duty sector. However, when emissions control systems are not operating correctly, in-use NOx and PM emissions can significantly increase. CARB’s existing programs, the Heavy-Duty Vehicle Inspection Program and the Periodic Smoke Inspection Program, ensure vehicle emissions control systems are properly operating during periodic testing. However, these programs do not adequately control NOx emissions continuously for the life of the vehicle. CARB is now exploring the development of a more comprehensive Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program, to maintain all vehicle emissions control systems throughout the vehicles’ operating lives.

In 2020, the California Phase 2 trailer standards takes effect for all trailer manufacturers. The standards intend to make trailers more efficient and lower the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their use. Beginning January 1, 2020, trailer manufacturers must certify to California standards and receive an Executive Order from CARB to legally sell trailers in California. Also in 2020, CARB proposed the Zero-Emission Regulation, which would require private and public airport shuttle fleet owners to transition their fleet to zero-emission shuttles.

In addition, CARB developed the Advanced Clean Truck proposal to reduce GHG emissions by accelerating the first wave of zero-emission trucks and fostering a self-sustaining market. CARB is in the process of developing proposals for a number of new measures that will further advance the commercialization of zero- and near zero emission technologies. The Zero Emission Powertrain Certification will support current and future advanced technology measures applicable to medium duty vehicles, heavy duty vehicles, and off road equipment. This will ensure that once-deployed, zero emission technologies are able to meet the reliability and performance expectations for California fleets.

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land Use Integration: California has identified smart growth and transportation system efficiency strategies as a major component of its plans to implement AB32, which requires a 25% reduction from 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. SB 375 (2008) requires the Air Resources Board (ARB), in consultation with the Metropolitan Planning Organizations, to set regional goals for greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Regional transportation plans will need to incorporate those targets, and Regional Housing Needs Assessments in turn will have to be aligned with the land use component of the transportation plans. SB 375 also relaxes the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process for housing projects that are consistent with plans to meet regional greenhouse gas reduction goals and ensures adequate inter-agency cooperation in the development of the regional plans. 

AB 900 (2011) and AB 246 (2017) provided CEQA judicial review streamlining for certain efficient projects. SB 99 & AB 101 (both 2013) created the Active Transportation Program; (ATP) consolidates existing federal and state programs (Transportation Alternatives Program, State Bicycle Transportation Account, and State Safe Routes to School).

SB 743 (2013) provided regulatory changes to support infill and transit-oriented development and requires a new VMT based process for transportation impacts assessment. SB 628 (2014) authorized local governments to establish financing districts for capital projects that include brownfield, transit priority, affordable housing etc.

SB 1 (2017) included over $800 million dedicated to Sustainable Communities Planning, active transportation, transit and rail etc. Several housing bills passed in 2017 included provisions to reduce regulatory burdens and encourage new development and infill within cities (link). California also conducts incentive programs as a key strategy to encourage sustainable, compact and accessible development, including: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (Transformative Climate Communities, Affordable Housing Sustainable Community, and Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation).

VMT Targets: AB 32 (2006) required the Air Resources Board to develop a Scoping Plan to reduce GHGs to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2010 ARB adopted targets, expressed as percent per capita changes in emissions for each region. Governor's EO B-30-2015 sets a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target for 2030 at 40% below 1990 levels. In SB 32 (2016) codifies a 2030 GHG emissions reduction target of 40% below 1990 levels. In Climate Change Scoping Plan Update (2017) ARB identified the need for an additional 15% reduction in total statewide light-duty vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2050. In 2018 ARB updated the SB 375 (2008) regional targets for reducing GHG from passenger vehicle travel. This supports Governor Brown’s call in 2015 for California to reduce petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50% by 2030. These reductions are envisioned to be achieved in part by implementation of SB 375 targets and regional Sustainable Communities Strategies; the implementation of SB 743 (2013) changing transportation analysis using VMT (instead of vehicle delay) and additional State VMT reduction strategies.

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: California has a freight plan that not only meets the federal FAST Act requirements, but exceeds them by incorporating the sustainable freight strategies identified in California's Sustainable Freight Action Plan (CSFAP, 2016). The CSFAP establishes an aggressive goal to improve freight efficiency and transition the freight industry to near zero emissions by 2050 (Governor’s Executive Order B-32-2015).

California’s freight plans include the federal performance measure “truck travel time reliability on interstates”, which improves traffic flow and contributes to fuel efficiency as well as travel time saving. California has an additional metric "GDP/GHG" known as the emission intensity metric in the CSFAP to reduce emissions while promoting economic growth. California’s freight plans identify a multimodal freight network, and meeting the goal for the entire freight industry of near-zero emissions by 2050 calls for aggressive actions across all modes. 

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Transit Funding List All

California has several legislatively created sources of funding for public transit. 

  • The Transportation Development Act (TDA), originally created by SB 325 (1971) provides on an ongoing basis, two sources of funding for public transit: the Location Transportation Fund (LTF) derived from general sales tax and the State Transit Assistance (STA) Fund derived from the sales tax on diesel fuel.
  • Proposition 1A (2008): High-speed rail connectivity program identified $760 million for connections to the then proposed High-Speed Train. The Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) created by SB 862 (2014) and later modified by SB 9 (2015) provides funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund for transformative capital improvements to modernize California’s intercity, commuter, and urban rail systems, and bus and ferry transit systems to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by reducing congestion and vehicle miles traveled throughout California.  Approximately $2.4 billion is allocated for the five year-program.
  • SB 1 (2017) provided $105 million annually to transit operators in California for eligible transit maintenance, rehabilitation and capital projects.
  • The Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement, and Service Enhancement Account Program (PTMISEA) created by Proposition 1B (2006) allocated the last cycle of funding on April 9, 2019, with approximately 300 open projects.
  • SB 862 (2014): Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) is a noncompetitive, formulaic program, with 5% of annual auction proceeds being continually appropriated at the beginning of 2015 - to provide operating and capital assistance to transit agencies with the goal of reducing GHG emissions and improving mobility; with an emphasis on serving Disadvantaged Communities.

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

AB 118 targets medium- and heavy-duty trucks in a voucher program whose goal is to reduce the up-front incremental cost of purchasing a hybrid or zero-emission vehicle. Vouchers for up to $117,000 are available through the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) program, depending on vehicle specifications, and are paid directly to fleets that purchase qualifying trucks for use within the state.

California also offers rebates of up to $5,000 for light-duty zero-emission EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs on a first-come, first-served basis.

Clean Cars 4 All provides financial incentives to retire older, more polluting vehicles and replace them with newer, cleaner hybrid and zero-emission vehicles or alternative mobility options.

Clean Mobility Options (CMO) provides a variety of clean mobility projects (including car share, bike share, vanpool, and ridesourcing) in disadvantaged communities using advanced clean vehicles (zero-emission or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and associated infrastructure.

The Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (STEP) aims to address community residents’ transportation needs, increase access to key destinations (e.g., schools, grocery stores, workplaces, daycare facilities, community centers, medical facilities), and reduce GHG emissions. STEP has the flexibility to fund many different types of projects to ensure that STEP funds can help meet the needs of each community within that community’s context. STEP’s overarching purpose is to increase transportation equity in disadvantaged and low-income communities throughout California via two grant types: (1) Planning and Capacity Building Grants and (2) Implementation Grants.

CARB's Clean Mobility in Schools program is a new transportation equity project being funded through CARB’s Low Carbon Transportation Program pursuant to SB 1275 (De León, Chapter 530, Statutes of 2014). The grant program will deploy scalable clean transportation and mobility strategies for reducing GHG emissions from schools in disadvantaged communities. Strategies may include electric vehicles and electric vehicle supply equipment in schools (K – 12), car sharing for staff at schools to rotate using zero-emission vehicles, and outreach to students, parents and the community.

Financing Assistance for Lower-income Consumers offers lower-income consumers a low-interest loan and a vehicle price buy-down to purchase a new or used zero-emission, plug-in hybrid electric, or hybrid vehicle. Lenders are offered a loan loss reserve to mitigate their risk.

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Equitable Access to TransportationList All

The California Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Housing Program, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) provides $2.85 billion for housing and infrastructure programs within close proximity (0.5 mile) of a transit station and 15% of units must be affordable to low- or very-low-income households. HCD’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program provides funds to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, and they consider proximity to transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. ARB’s Low Carbon Transportation Investments and Air Quality Improvement Program offers Car Sharing and Clean Mobility Options incentive program, which helps connect low-income consumers and housing with transit, car share, and other mobility options. HCD’s Infill Infrastructure Grant (IIG) funds Capital Improvement Projects for Qualifying Infill Projects or Qualifying Infill Areas. Application criteria includes housing density, access to transit, and housing affordability. Funding and program requirements are described under Assembly Bill 101 (Stats. 2019, ch. 159, § 20) and Part 12.5 (commencing with section 53559) of Division 31 of Health and Safety Code. HCD’s Predevelopment Loan Program (PDLP) finances projects covering acquisition for future low-income housing developments, with some priority given to projects located in public transit corridors. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit: Applicants to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, administered by the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee within the Treasurer’s office, receive points based on the transit and related amenities for affordable housing developments. To be successful, projects generally need to score all 10 possible points. The scale has a long list of possible points related to transit, parks, libraries, full scale groceries, schools, medical facilities, pharmacies and services. This encourages tenant convenience and supports reduced driving and increased transit ridership. A project can earn up to 7 points, the biggest single point category, for proximity to transit and up to 3 additional points for providing free or discounted transit passes to residents for at least 15 years. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit projects in California commonly also participate simultaneously in the Multifamily Private Activity Bonds program, administered by the California Debt Limit Allocation Committee within the Treasurer’s office, which is designed similarly to the Low Income Tax Credit program. Applicants receive points based on the transit amenities for a housing development. Applicants receive the maximum 2.5 points (of the 10 amenity points) when the development is located within 1/3 mile of a Public Transit Corridor or ½ mile from a High Quality Transit Station.

Last Reviewed: November 2022

Appliance Standards
Score: 3 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

Policy: California Code of Regulations, Title 20, Sections 1601 - 1609

Description: California was the first state in the country to adopt appliance and equipment efficiency standards. The authority to adopt appliance and equipment efficiency standards was bestowed upon the California Energy Commission as stipulated under the Warren-Alquist Act, which was enacted in 1974. Over the years, California has adopted standards on more than 50 products, many of which have subsequently become federal standards. California has collaborated with other countries to set harmonized standards for products that have a worldwide market, beginning with external power supplies in 2007.  

On September 2, 2010, California's Office of Administrative Law approved the introduction of efficiency standards for televisions, making California the first state to adopt standards for televisions, effective 2011 with an updated standard becoming effective in 2013. In 2012 the state adopted standards for battery chargers.

In April 2015, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-29-15, establishing the first ever statewide mandatory water reductions to address California’s ongoing drought. One week later the Energy Commission adopted by emergency its proposed standards to reduce the water use of faucets, toilets and urinals. 

In May 2015, the Energy Commission adopted efficiency standards for fluorescent dimming ballasts, labeling requirements for HVAC air filters, and test and list requirements for heat pump water-chilling packages. In September 2015, under the emergency Executive Order B-29-15, the Energy Commission adopted two-tiered standards for showerheads, and amended its standards for lavatory faucets. Finally, in January 2016, the Energy Commission adopted standards for general service LED lamps and small-diameter directional lamps, taking effect in 2018.

In August 2015, the Energy Commission launched its Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System, which allows manufacturers to certify their products online and which has greatly improved the efficiency and utility of the state certification process."

In 2016, the Energy Commission adopted efficiency standards for computers, computer monitors, and signage display and conducted workshops for pool pumps and portable electric spas. In January 2017, the Energy Commission started Phase 2 of the appliance rulemaking as stated in the 2012 Order Instituting Rulemaking. 

In late 2018 and early 2019, the Energy Commission adopted standards for portable air conditioners, air compressors, and portable electric spas, and spray sprinkler bodies.
In 2020, the CEC adopted three new rulemakings:
  • (1) "Amendments to Computers and Monitors" (20-AAER-03) - This rulemaking modified existing standards and test procedures for computers and computer monitors to incorporate new technologies and innovations that were not known at the time of the previously completed rulemaking.
  • (2) "Replacement Pool Pump Motors" (19-AAER-02) - This rulemaking created and modified mandatory energy efficiency standards for replacement dedicated-purpose pool pump motors and dedicated-purpose pool pumps.
  • (3) Amendments to the Title 20 Regulations (20-AAER-01) - This rulemaking included the repeal of existing requirements for self-contained lighting controls, updates to reflect current federal law, updates to data submittal requirements, and updates to improve overall readability of the regulations.
Has the state adopted a provision to backstop light bulb standards in case of repeal or rollback? Did the state adopt a provision to backstop all other federal standards in case of repeal or rollback?

Yes. In December 2008, California adopted a 45 lumen per watt standard for general service lamps (GSLs) as defined in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). This standard had an effective date of January 1, 2018, and was contingent upon DOE’s failure to complete certain actions as directed by Congress through EISA. DOE failed to complete those actions and California implemented the 45 lumen per watt standard for GSLs manufactured on or after January 1, 2018. California’s Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Regulations have long had existing provisions that backstop all other federal appliance standards in case of repeal or rollback (Title 20 section 1605(a)).

Last Reviewed: December 2021