The BayREN Business Plan – Prioritizing Equity and Leading on Energy Efficiency

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BayREN team meeting

BayREN team meeting

BayREN’s Business Plan 2024-2031 (Plan) submitted in early March to the California Public Utilities Commission, reflects an ambition to achieve California’s climate and energy goals while enabling an urgent evolution of the organization, resources, and programs to integrate equity more intentionally.

For BayREN, equity means addressing systemic barriers to energy efficiency and electrification, especially for, and in collaboration with, equity priority communities and those who disproportionately face energy burdens, climate impacts, and are underrepresented in policy and decision-making (2025 Strategic Plan, adopted in 2021).

With more than 65% of the eight-year budget proposal supporting equity programs, BayREN intends to bolster its six existing programs, and create four new programs, all focused on continuing to fill program and policy gaps, addressing barriers to energy efficiency and electrification, and enabling jurisdictions to meet State goals. The Plan also aims to provide increased support for local governments to respond to quickly evolving regional and state policy trends centered on building electrification and climate resilience.

Equity

To achieve the dual goals of integrating equity more deeply into BayREN programs and responding to evolving local and state electrification and climate policy trends, the proposed Plan includes two new equity programs, the Workforce Education and Training Program (Climate Careers), and the BayREN Refrigerant Replacement Program (BRRR):

  • Climate Careers, created by Rising Sun Center for Opportunity and proposed for expansion in partnership with BayREN, aims to grow the energy efficiency and electrification workforce while providing high roads jobs to youth – in-demand jobs with fair wages, defined paths for upward mobility, and with benefits.
  • To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing refrigeration systems, the BRRR program will replace high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants with environmentally friendly alternatives at low to no cost to participants. BRRR will serve the Bay Area’s food-service sector exclusively, performing refrigerant changeouts to small restaurants, bars, grocery and convenience stores, and food-storage.

Design enhancements to existing programs are also essential to help reach BayREN’s equity goals. Existing residential programs — including Single Family (Home+), Multifamily (BAMBE) and Green Labeling— are meeting and often exceeding participation and energy savings goals while increasingly reaching underserved populations. BayREN will continue to grow the effectiveness with which it serves local populations that are not served by other program administrators, and will incorporate additional portfolio strategies to improve the programs. Strategies include:

  • Pilot innovative design and delivery for incentives and financing programs to remove barriers and ensure more customers can upgrade their buildings and produce energy savings.
  • Develop novel offerings that enable customers to layer energy efficiency with other climate-based funding and resources programs.

Local Government Support

Two public sector programs were proposed in the Plan to ensure local government staff have the support and technical assistance needed to develop effective local policies – services that are especially crucial for under-resourced jurisdictions. The programs include the Integrated Energy Services Program (IES) and the Target Decarbonization Services Program (TDS).

  • IES seeks to build, enable, and maintain demand for high-impact, integrated building energy upgrades, and operations in the public sector. The program intends to satisfy the unique energy and resilience goals of each participating agency by coordinating existing and emerging programs in energy efficiency, demand response, distributed energy resources, and more, and providing supplemental services to fill gaps in transforming public agency buildings and infrastructure.
  • TDS will build the market for decarbonization equipment and technologies and demonstrate the feasibility of decarbonization. The program will do this through improved information, education, and financing for local governments.

Desired Outcomes

Ultimately, the Plan aims to increase equitable awareness and adoption of energy efficiency and electrification throughout the Bay Area and in collaboration with other key regional energy players, including PG&E, CCAs, and additional stakeholder groups. By working together, we can create a climate-friendly Bay Area. 

Feedback

Read the proposed portfolio here. We encourage feedback submitted through comments to the consolidated proceeding found here. If you have questions about the Plan or potential partnerships, please feel free to contact us at bayrenmarketing@bayareametro.gov.