California’s Public Utilities Commission has voted to direct Southern California Edison Co, Pacific Gas and Electric Co, and San Diego Gas & Electric to implement a new pricing scheme designed to discourage energy use by large consumers during peak times. The Critical Peak Pricing plan, which could double rates during emergencies will affect up to 25,000 customers of the state’s three investor-owned utilities. The PUC has also voted to restore control of the $400 million per year energy efficiency programme to local utility companies. The move ends a four-year trial during which cities and outside groups ran some programmes.