Synergies between energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy systems (RES) [E-BOOK]

Public Benefit Funds for EE and RES

Public Benefit Funds (PBFs) are generated by a small charge on consumers’ electricity bills or through contributions from utilities. They provide money in varying degrees for energy efficiency measures (EE), renewable energy systems (RES), energy research and development, and low-income housing energy assistance.

Several U.S. states adopted PBFs following the restructuring of the electric industry in the mid-1990s. This restructuring had eliminated many, if not most, of the previous incentives to invest in EE and RES.

California a golden example

The most extensive PBF is that of California, where incentives were established and set in place for a specified term from 2000 to 2012. Funds are generated by a surcharge in consumers’ electricity bills that averages 25 cent per kWh, or about two per cent of the electricity price. This generates $525 million per year, of which 43 per cent ($228 million) goes toward EE and 26 per cent ($135 million) toward RES initiatives.

Benefits of PBFs

  • PBFs lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • PBFs result in job creation. Indeed, investing in EE and RES leads to more jobs per dollar invested than investing in conventional energy supply options.
  • PBFs allow each state the flexibility to invest in the best mix of EE and RES that meet its particular needs.
  • PBFs lead to improved reliability of the electricity supply and to a reduction in peak prices of electricity. In 2001, California’s emerging PBF had already reduced peak demand by ten per cent and in this way helped to alleviate the blackouts that had threatened the economy and to mitigate the electricity peak price.


The report 'The Twin Pillars of Sustainable Energy: Synergies between Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technology and Policy' by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

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