The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently made its largest financial commitment to residential energy efficiency programs to date, approving a three-year budget (2010-2012) of $3.1 billion for Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Southern California Gas Company.

With this earmarked funding, the state utilities commission expands energy efficiency programs from simple rebates to more holistic approaches that will create an estimated savings of 7,000 gigawatt hours, 1,500 megawatts, and 150 metric therms of natural gas—the equivalent of three 500-megawatt power plants. The funding also could support the creation of between 15,000 and 18,000 skilled green jobs, according to the CPUC.

Programs established by the CPUC funding commitment include CalSPREE, the largest and most comprehensive statewide program for residential retrofits in the United States, which aims to reduce the energy consumption in up to 130,000 California homes by 20 percent by the year 2012. The CPUC's decision also provides $175 million in funding for programs that will deliver net-zero energy homes and commercial buildings by providing design assistance, incentives for construction that exceeds code, and new technologies and materials research and demonstrations. In addition, the funding decision targets public sector building retrofits with more than $260 million in funding through 64 cities, counties, and regional agencies. More than $100 million of this funding will go to energy efficiency education and training programs.

For more information on the approved funding proposal, visit CPUC's website.