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Other states looking to follow California in energy efficiency

Californians use less than half of the electricity than people in the rest of the country, and some other states are taking note.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif.--Twelve other states are examining ways to implement the strategy adopted by California in getting utilities to separate profits from energy production, according to Terry Tamminen, the Cullinan Senior Fellow at the New America foundation and the former secretary of California's EPA.

California implemented regulations that encourage utilities to conserve energy by tying profits to conservation rather than selling power years ago, he said during a presentation at the Clean Tech Investor Summit taking place here this week.

And the results are fairly dramatic. The average Californian consumes about 6,700 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. Elsewhere in the country, Americans consume an average of about 12,000 kilowatt hours a year. California was also one of the early states to adopt regulations requiring appliance makers to adhere to energy efficiency standards (thanks to scientist Art Rosenfeld), but decoupling has helped quite a bit.

Decoupling and other energy efficiency techniques also cut down greenhouse gases from coal-burning power plants quickly. Even if car manufacturers started to produce electric cars en masse today, it would take 20 years to turn over the existing base of cars. By contrast, energy efficiency begins to show results immediately, he said.