How to Make Money from Saving Energy: Tales of Innovation at the SDG&E Energy Showcase

Conservation is a big deal in California. While per capita energy usage has climbed approximately 50 percent from 1975 to 2005, according to presentations by former California Energy Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld, California managed to keep the growth of energy consumption at about  2 percent per capita over the same period—largely by requiring aggressive energy conservation measures.

As part of that overall conservation push, San Diego Gas & Electric convened its fifth annual SDG&E Energy Showcase to recognize their customers’ biggest success stories at reducing energy waste. For example, by installing LED lighting, sophisticated refrigeration controls, and taking other conservation measures, Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) cut its electricity consumption by 5,200,000 kilowatt hours a year—or about 28 percent—and estimates it will save about $4 million in reduced energy costs over five years. And it won’t take forever to recoup its upfront investment in energy savings. The company, which provides laboratory equipment and supplies for biotech labs, also got $724,526 in rebates and incentives from SDG&E to do the energy efficiency work.

As part of its showcase, SDG&E also holds an exhibition for the companies that provide the products and services that help SDG&E customers reduce their energy costs.

“We want to make sure [energy conservation successes] are visible to our customers,” says Mark Gaines, director of energy efficiency and demand-response programs at SDG&E, one of two utilities that are owned and operated (and generate about half the revenue) by San Diego-based Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). Gaines says SDG&E doesn’t certify the individual companies that provide energy efficiency services. Rather, he says, “We certify the technology, so we have a list of technologies that are available for rebates.”

More than 70 companies registered as exhibitors, and there was a strong showing by companies that specialize in … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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