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.
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.
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).