Residents in the Bay Area and across the state will have more access to energy-saving programs after the California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposed decision this week expanding Regional Energy Networks.
Locally, the Association of Bay Area Governments administers BayREN, which offers regional energy programs, services and resources that promote energy savings, while helping local governments evaluate ways to come into compliance with state energy code.
The programs result in energy and cost savings for thousands, while playing a role in fighting climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
“REN programs bring additional benefits,” said Jennifer Berg, BayREN manager and Vice Chairwoman of the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition. “The best thing about BayREN and RENs overall, is the value of collaborations among local governments working together to address the needs of their communities.”
As an example, energy savings have been found at Bay Area multifamily housing units through BayREN's multi-family energy rebate program – known as BAMBE. Since 2013, the BayREN BAMBE program has helped upgrade over 31,000 units at 458 properties, providing over $22.5 million in rebates and technical assistance to over 80,000 units across the Bay Area.
The CPUC’s Oct. 24 proposed decision affirms the concept of BayREN and other Regional Energy Networks, enables the formation of new networks, and addresses communication, coordination and cooperation among energy program providers, among other things. There are two other programs outside the Bay Area, in Los Angeles County and the Central Coast.
By opening the door to the creation of new Regional Energy Networks and clarifying the principles by which current and future networks should operate, the PUC acknowledges, “…there is a unique and appropriate role for local government entities in the oversight and delivery of energy efficiency programs.”
“Local governments have a critical role in meeting California’s energy and climate goals,” said Garrett Wong, chairman of the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition board. “LGSEC was instrumental in starting the RENs in 2012. This (action) recognizes that RENs have become a permanent fixture in the energy efficiency landscape; bringing resources and delivering unique benefits to their communities.”