LA QUINTA, CA — California voters recently approved a major school bond, including funding and incentives for equipment to improve energy use patterns and shift peak electrical demand, such as thermal energy storage. In addition, three pieces of energy legislation favoring thermal energy storage were signed into law. According to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), all of the legislation supported by its Thermal Storage Equipment Product Section aimed at shifting peak electrical loads and implementing real-time metering for air conditioning systems became law.

Senate Bill 1790 (Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey) says, "It is the intent of the legislature that the state establish cost-effective load control programs for residential and commercial air-conditioning systems." The new law states that "Reducing peak load of, and implementing load control for, residential and commercial air conditioning systems by the state's electrical corporations can achieve a significant reduction of California's peak electricity demand in a cost-effective manner." SB 1790 provides for development of air conditioning load control programs as part of electrical service offerings as a means of "contributing to the adequacy of the electricity supply and to help customers in reducing their electric bills."

Senate Bill 1976 (Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch) directs the Public Utilities Commission to report back to the governor and legislature no later than March 31, 2003 regarding real-time pricing and metering. It notes that "Californians can significantly increase the reliability of the electricity system and reduce the level of wholesale electricity prices by reducing electricity usage at peak times."

Looking forward, Senate Bill 1389 (also Sen. Bowen) calls for an integrated energy policy with public interest strategies including load management.

In the view of thermal energy storage proponents, the California legislation suggests a model for legislation in other states.

Publication date: 12/23/2002