CPUC Acts to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Buildings

SAN FRANCISCO, January 31, 2019 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its ongoing commitment to helping the state achieve its clean energy goals, today took steps to address decarbonization by reducing greenhouse gases associated with energy use in buildings.

The proceeding opened today (called a Rulemaking) will evaluate proposed methodologies related to the development of rules, policies, and procedures that are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. Issues related to building decarbonization have surfaced in several different CPUC proceedings, however, current programs do not directly explore how the CPUC could more effectively support decarbonization in buildings.

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Four issues will be addressed in the proceeding:

  1. Implementation of Senate Bill (SB) 1477, which requires the CPUC to oversee the development of two new building decarbonization programs, called Building Initiative for Low Emissions Development (BUILD) and Technology and Equipment for Clean Heating (TECH);
  2. Potential pilot programs for electrification and decarbonization of new construction areas damaged by wildfires;
  3. Coordinating with the California Energy Commission on Title 24 building codes and Title 20 appliance standards; and
  4. Establishing a building decarbonization policy framework.

The natural gas and electric utilities that are subject to the findings of the proceeding are Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, and Southwest Gas Company.

“Modeling tells us that 100 percent renewable electricity alone isn’t enough to help us meet our 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals; we also need to electrify our homes and buildings to reduce the use of fossil fuels in California. Twenty-five percent of total emissions in California are from the use of natural gas in homes and buildings and we must make headway on reducing these emissions to meet the state’s overall aggressive climate goals,” said CPUC President Michael Picker.

Said California Energy Commission Commissioner Andrew McAllister, “I look forward to collaborating with the CPUC to guide a program critical for migrating many more of our buildings toward low-carbon technologies. This investment will help us reach our climate goals, bolster our economic resilience, and improve air quality for Californians.”

In 2018, former Governor Brown established a new statewide goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 or sooner, and maintaining negative emissions thereafter. To achieve statewide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) created and regularly updates a statewide plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy.

The CPUC currently oversees a wide range of programs and activities to decarbonize California’s electricity and natural gas systems. Current programs are greening California’s energy system by improving energy efficiency and demand management, expanding renewable and low-carbon electricity generation, and reducing emissions from natural gas.

The proposal voted on is available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M255/K629/255629169.PDF.