How do you force a company that earns money by selling power to reduce its sales? This conflict of interests is what the state of California faced in the 1970s and the result was the formation of the California Public Utilities Corporation (CPUC) an agency that oversees the publicly owned utilities in the state and regulates the amount those utilities can charge. A major goal for the CPUC? Disincentivize the utilities from increasing sales.
Energy use across the United States has grown steadily both on a per capita basis and in total for the last 30 years. California is one of the few states that has been able to control its per-capita energy use over the last few decades. In fact, the per capita utility use curve in California has been almost completely flat since the late ‘70s which many find amazing considering the overwhelming increase in technology in our lives. The way California has done so is as startling as it is strange: beauracratic wisdom.