California Energy Commission

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission, formally the Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, is meant to lead the state to a 100% clean energy future. As the primary energy policy and planning agency of the States, the Energy Commission plays a significant function in creating the energy system of the future - one that is clean is modern and ensures the fifth largest economy in the world continues to thrive.

Created in 1974 and headquartered in Sacramento, the Commission's core responsibilities include:

  • Advancing State Energy Policy

  • Achieving Energy Efficiency

  • Investing in Energy Innovation

  • Developing Renewable Energy

  • Transforming Transportation

  • Overseeing Energy Infrastructure

  • Preparing for Energy Emergencies

The Commission is a division of the California Natural Resources Agency, which is under the direction of Cabinet Secretary Wade Crowfoot. One of its prominent responsibilities is the maintenance of the California Energy Code.

Energy policy

Energy policy is the manner in which a given entity has decided to address issues of energy development including energy production, distribution, and consumption. The attributes of energy policy may include legislation, international treaties, taxation, incentives to investment, guidelines for energy conservation, as well as other public policy techniques. Energy is a core component of modern economies. A functioning economy requires not only labor and capital but also energy, for manufacturing processes, transportation, communication, agriculture, and more. Energy sources are measured in different physical units: liquid fuels in barrels or gallons, natural gas in cubic feet, coal in short tons, and electricity in kilowatts and kilowatt-hours.

Concerning the term energy policy, the importance of implementation of an eco-energy-oriented policy at a global level to address the issues of global warming and climate changes should be accentuated.

Although research is ongoing, the human dimensions of energy use are of increasing interest to utilities, businesses, also policymakers. Using the social sciences to gain insights into energy consumer behavior can empower policymakers to make better decisions about broad-based climate and energy options. This could facilitate more efficient energy use, renewable energy commercialization, and carbon emission reductions. Access to energy is also critical for basic social needs, such as lighting, heating, cooking, and health care. As a result, the price of energy has a direct effect on jobs, economic productivity, and business competitiveness, and the cost of goods and services.

Private Energy Policy

Private Energy policy refers to a company’s approach to energy. In 2019, it is said that some companies have committed to set climate targets across their operations and value chains aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.

Energy Planning

Energy planning has a number of different meanings. However, one common meaning of the term is the process of developing long-range policies to help guide the future of a local, national, regional, or even the global energy system. Energy planning is often conducted within Governmental organizations but may be carried out by large energy companies as well such as electric utilities or oil and gas producers. Energy planning may be carried out with input from different stakeholders drawn from government agencies, local utilities, academia, and other interest groups.

Energy planning is often conducted using integrated approaches that consider both the provision of energy supplies and the role of energy efficiency in reducing demands. Energy planning should always reflect the outcomes of population growth and economic development.

Planning and Market Concepts

Energy planning has traditionally played a strong role in setting the framework for regulations in the energy sector such as, influencing what type of power plants might be built or what prices were charged for fuels. But in the past two decades many countries have deregulated their energy systems so that the role of energy planning has been reduced, and decisions have increasingly been left to the market. This has arguably led to increased competition in the energy sector, although there is little evidence that this has translated into lower energy prices for consumers. Indeed, in some cases, deregulation has led to significant concentrations of "market power" with large very profitable companies having a large influence as price setters.

Approaches to energy planning depends on the planning agent and the scope of the exercise. Several catch-phrases are associated with energy planning. Basic to all is resource planning, i.e. a view of the possible sources of energy in the future. A forking in methods is whether the planner considers the possibility of influencing the “demand” for energy. The 1970s energy crisis ended a period of relatively stable energy prices and stable supply-demand relations. Concepts of Demand Side Management, Least Cost Planning, and Integrated Resource Planning emerged with the new emphasis on the need to reduce energy demand by new technologies or simple energy saving.

In the United States the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 PURPA and more comprehensively the Energy Policy Act of 1992 introduced these concepts into the legal system, to be further detailed by individual states.


California Energy Code

The California Energy Code is the 6th section of the California Building Standards Code. The code was created by the California Building Standards Commission in 1978 in response to a legislative mandate to reduce California's energy consumption. These standards are updated periodically by the California Energy Commission. The code includes energy conservation standards applicable to most buildings throughout California.

California Energy Commission Current Activities

In 2007 the Commission set up relatively strict laws that forbid the signing of new energy supply contracts between utilities and coal-fired power plants. This was a major initiative to stem greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

In 2015, the California legislature passed a bill, that set a goal of having 33% of electricity produced from renewable resources by 2020, and 50% by 2030. The California Energy Commission was given the task of monitoring and enforcing regulation on utility companies, to help them meet this goal. Since the passing of the bill, The Energy Commission has been tracking the changes made by the state overall and providing updates on the progress. As of June 2017, California has increased its consumption of renewable electricity generation to 29%, and the commission states that California is on track to meet the goal of 50% by 2030, if not exceed it. In a Fortune news article, Tony Early, the CEO of PG&E, predicts that the usage of renewable energy will be closer to 70% at 2030, and so the challenge these experts predict we will face is the storage of this immense amount of renewable energy. The co-founder of Opower Alex Laskey describes the need to design a new grid system, and the need for policies to determine the rules and regulation of the market for innovated grid, as well as the "need to make energy efficiency and power grid plans simple enough for consumers to understand them.”