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Drought Impacts California's Energy; Governor Brown's Response Plan (Executive Order B-29-15

- the wise, sparing use of water - remains California's most reliable drought management tool.

Five days after Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the $1 billion emergency drought package, he directed the first ever statewide mandatory water reductions in Executive Order B-29-15. These actions will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

The California Energy Commission will carry out part of the plan as will several other state entities including the Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, Office of Emergency Services, Department of Food & Agriculture, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The Energy Commission will focus on four responsibilities:

  • Jointly with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board, the Energy Commission shall implement a time-limited statewide appliance rebate program to provide monetary incentives for the replacement of inefficient household devices.

  • The Energy Commission shall adopt emergency regulations establishing standards that improve the efficiency of water appliances, including toilets, urinals, and faucets available for sale and installation in new and existing buildings.

  • The Energy Commission, jointly with the Department and the Water Board, shall implement a Water Energy Technology (WET) program to deploy innovative water management technologies for businesses, residents, industries, and agriculture. This program will achieve water and energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions by accelerating use of cutting-edge technologies such as renewable energy-powered desalination, integrated on-site reuse systems, water-use monitoring software, irrigation system timing and precision technology, and on-farm precision technology.

  • The Energy Commission shall expedite the processing of all applications or petitions for amendments to power plant certifications for the necessary for continued power plant operation.

Governor Brown has stepped up actions and increased conservation measures since January 2014 as the drought has worsened. On January 17, 2014, the Governor declared a Drought State of Emergency. On April 25, 2014, the Governor issued a Proclamation of a Continued State of Emergency to strengthen the state's ability to manage California's water supply effectively in drought conditions. The orders and provisions of those Proclamations, plus those of Executive Orders B-26-14 and B-28-14 remain in full force and effect as modified by the April 25 Executive Order.

According to the Department of Water Resources, California is now in its fourth year of drought:

  • 2012 was a period of continued drier-than-normal conditions.

  • 2013 was the driest year in recorded history for many parts of California.

  • 2014 was the third driest in the 119 years of official California water monitoring records.

  • As of March 2015 the dry trend continues.

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