Incentive programs, often administered by utility companies, encourage consumers to purchase and use energy-efficient products. A wide variety of incentive program models exist, many of which provide direct rebates or tax credits to consumers who purchase energy efficient products. While most incentive programs focus on appliances, some utilities are starting to implement these programs for electronic devices as well.
Created by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2008, EPIC funds will provide approximately $162 million annually from 2012‐2020 primarily to address policy and funding gaps related to the development, deployment and commercialization of next generation clean energy technologies. California’s EPIC program, administered by the CEC and three other entities, provides funding for applied research and development, technology demonstration and deployment, and market facilitation for clean energy technologies and approaches for the benefit of ratepayers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison Company. EPIC funds come from rates charged to customers of PG&E, SDG&E, and SCE. The regulation requires that investments are designed to produce benefits for ratepayers.
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One example is PG&E’s 80 PLUS program. 80 PLUS is an innovative incentive program funded by electric utilities that integrates more energy-efficient power supplies into desktop computers and servers. These power supplies reduce energy consumption and save money because they have a minimum efficiency of 80% when tested at each of the following load conditions of rated power supply output: 20%, 50%, and 100%. Qualifying computer units provide multiple direct current (DC) voltage outputs that reduce the need for costly electrical system upgrades.
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Encouraging consumers to use energy-efficient electronic devices in their homes represents a key opportunity for energy savings. Incentive programs have the added benefit of increasing demand for energy-efficient products, which, in turn, incentivizes companies to design and produce more energy-efficient products.