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Gov. Jerry Brown asks PUC to pass electric bill surcharge

September 26, 2011 |  5:13 pm

  Energyeffbaldwinhillskatiefalkenberglat

Gov. Jerry Brown is asking his appointed members of the California Public Utilities Commission to come up with a way to continue tacking a surcharge on residential and commercial electric bills to pay for an energy efficiency program that did not get renewed by the Legislature last month.

The $400-million-a-year program is set to expire at the end of the year.

"We cannot afford to let any of these job-creating programs lapse," Brown said in a letter to PUC President Michael Peevey. The surcharges -- $1 to $2 a month on a typical residential bill -- pay for a 14-year-old levy called the Public Goods Charge. It pays for retrofitting structures to make them use less energy, for renewable energy subsidies and for research.

"I request that you take action under the commission's authority to ensure that programs like those supported by the Public Goods Charge are instituted -- and hopefully at their current levels," Brown wrote to Peevey.

The PUC will consider opening a legal and administrative proceeding on Brown's request at its Oct. 6 meeting in San Francisco, said spokeswoman Terrie D. Prosper.

"We're pursuing the fastest path to consider maintain funding levels for these programs and policies already underway," Prosper said.

Some environmentalists said they're supporting the governor's effort to revive the Public Goods Charge.

However, Sierra Club lobbyist Jim Metropulos lamented that Brown did not push earlier and more energetically to get enough bipartisan legislative support to pass the bill.

"We were disappointed that the governor put [his bill] out late, if it was one of his priorities," he said.

RELATED:

Designs on energy efficiency

State should extend energy levy

Light-bulb standards equal energy efficiency

-- Marc Lifsher

Photo: A man looks at energy efficient washing machines at a mall in Baldwin Hills. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

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