The Coordinator has been writing and distributing CURRENTS: An Energy Newsletter for Local Governments since 1998.
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Fall 2015 Currents

Feature Story  |  Legislative Update  |  Regulatory Update  |  Technology Feature  |  Tools & Resources  |  Mark Your Calendars

Feature Story

A Spotlight on The LA Energy Atlas

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We were excited to see the launch of the LA Energy Atlas in late September and got the inside scoop from Zoe Elizabeth, Associate Director of The California Center for Sustainable Communities and the Project Manager of the LA Energy Atlas. Here’s the inside scoop from Zoe:

What is the LA Energy Atlas and how does it differ from other energy-use databases?

The LA Energy Atlas is a first of its kind interactive website can be used to inform energy planning and research in Los Angeles and throughout California. The site provides access to the most comprehensive and disaggregated energy database publicly available.  All data is downloadable and protects privacy.  The website is powered by a geospatial relational database of over 500 million records that connects address level energy consumption to building characteristics from the county assessor database and census information. Other databases use modeled data or provide data based on ‘opt-in.’ The database underlying the public-facing website is geographically based and thus any information with a geographic component can be overlaid.

How did the project get started? Who are the key project partners?

The Energy Atlas, developed by the UCLA California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC), grew out of a project funded by the California Energy Commission to map energy and other resource flows across Los Angeles County.  The website was funded by the Southern California Regional Energy Network(SoCal REN) and the County of Los Angeles’ Office of Sustainability, it has benefited from the support and input of a number of partners including the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC), and the Energy Coalition (TEC), as well as interest from a broad range of policy makers, energy experts and program administrators.

What is your vision for how this tool will be used and what it can help accomplish?

California has long been a leader in energy policy. The recent passing of several energy bills, in particular, SB 350 and AB 802 underscore the State’s continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the efficiency of buildings. Although not as well known as other aspects, both of these bills require energy consumption and energy savings to be mapped to meters and buildings. This has the potential to revolutionize energy programs and evaluation in the state. At the same time, the legislation did not develop a database that could be implemented, fortunately with the Energy Atlas, and the address level database behind it, Los Angeles is ready to begin implementing the kinds of data-driven policy and program tracking envisioned by the bill, years before other parts of the state will be able to do so.

In addition, the Energy Atlas provides every city in LA County with the building energy data needed to develop a community greenhouse gas inventory. Acquiring and organizing this data is one of the most resource-intensive aspects of community greenhouse gas accounting and thus the Atlas now and as it is updated overtime can save municipal governments money while providing them with access to reliable and relevant data.

The Energy Atlas provides the needed building energy use data across Los Angeles County to develop effective and targeted programs to reduce building energy use.  For example, the site shows energy consumption by size of building that cities can use to set building disclosure ordinances. It enables stakeholders and researchers to analyze and understand energy consumption by sociodemographic characteristics, climate, building attributes, building use and other variables to gain insights on the impacts and benefits of different investments. 

Are there any plans in the works to develop similar tools for other communities in California?

Yes, we are currently planning to expand the database to other Southern California counties and are in discussions with other regions as well.

Interested in Learning More about the Atlas?

Join the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC) and Alliance of Regional Collaborative for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA) for a webinar on 11/16: ARCCA Learning Session: The Ins and Outs of the LA Energy Atlas. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about what it took to get this project started, challenges the project team faced when developing this tool, how to navigate and utilize the Atlas, and what it will take for an atlas to be developed for your community. We’re excited to have Atlas project leads, Dr. Stephanie Pincetl and Zoe Elizabeth from the California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC), speak on the webinar and answer questions.

[textblock align=”center”]Register now for the 11/16 ARCCA Learning Session: The Ins and Outs of the LA Energy Atlas[/textblock]

Legislative Update

What Happened During The 2015 Legislative Session?

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The California Legislature has been busy this session, solidifying the State’s role in climate and clean-energy leadership. But we know local governments are busy implementing critical on-the-ground efforts to take action to achieve the aggressive goals that the State sets forth, so we created a fact sheet to deliver the key points of each law in a concise way – below are highlights from the fact sheet.

[textblock align=”center”]View or download the full 2015 legislative update fact sheet[/textblock]

AB 802 (Williams) – Energy Efficiency

Requires the California Public Utilities Commission to update the rules for the measurement of energy efficiency so that measurement is based on normalized metered energy consumption. Measuring energy savings at the meter, while making adjustments to account for outliers, accounts for true energy efficiency impacts on the grids.

AB 1482 (Gordon) – Climate Adaptation

Requires state agencies to promote the use of the climate adaptation strategy to inform planning decisions and ensures that state investments consider climate change impacts when developing infrastructure to address adaptation. Requires the Strategic Growth Council to review and comment on the State’s Five-Year Infrastructure plan to take current and future climate change impacts into account in all infrastructure projects.

SB 246 (Wieckowski) – Climate Change Adaptation

Establishes the integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program to coordinate regional and local efforts with state climate adaptation strategies. Sets up more transparent and consistent mechanisms for local input on state actions and focus on state efforts on supporting local action.

SB 350 (De León and Leno) – Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015

Sets mitigation goals for 2030: 50% increase in efficiency in existing buildings and 50% utility power coming from renewable energy sources.

SB 379 (Jackson) – Land Use: General Plan: Safety Element

Requires cities and counties to include climate adaptation and resiliency strategies in the safety elements of their general plans to ensure safety and protection of their communities in the future. Cities or counties that have an adopted HMP, climate adaptation plan or applicable provisions in their general plans, may use that information to comply.

SB 758 (Block) – Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program

Creates the Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program under the Department of Water Resources to research atmospheric river patterns to increase water supply and reliability of water resources and improves flood protection.

What Do CEC Commissioners Think About SB 350 & AB 802?

Join the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC) for SB 350 and AB 802: Impacts and Implications for Local Governments on Thursday, December 3rd from 12:30-1:30. This statewide webinar will feature CEC Commissioners Andrew McAllister and  David Hochschild and dive into how these new laws will impact local governments.

[textblock align=”center”]Register now for the 12/3 SEEC Webinar – SB 350 and AB 802: Impacts and Implications for Local Governments[/textblock]

Regulatory Update

Highlights from the CPUC’s 288-page Proposed Decision

On August 18, 2015, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a Proposed Decision on Energy Efficiency Goals for 2016 and Beyond and Energy Efficiency Rolling Portfolio Mechanics (PD), which focuses on the framework of energy efficiency programs during the 10-year portfolio cycle and:

  1. adopts “aggressive yet achievable” energy savings goals for ratepayer-funded energy efficiency program portfolios (portfolios) for 2016 and beyond,
  2. establishes a “Rolling Portfolio” process for regularly reviewing and revising portfolios,
  3. and updates various energy efficiency program portfolio metrics, including Database of Energy Efficient Resources values, effective January 1, 2016.

The PD can be found here. The CPUC has postponed a vote on this matter until October 22.

What You Need to Know
  1. The Proposed Decision establishes longer-term funding applications that approve funding levels for 10 years.
  2. The basic structure of implementing the Rolling Portfolio Cycle is:
    1. Strategic Plan – Commission developed, provides overarching guidance to PAs.
    2. Business Plan – Program Administrators (PAs) and stakeholder developed, PAs file periodically via application for Commission review; explains at a high level of abstraction how PAs will achieve the goals of the Commission’s strategic plan; leads to a Commission guidance decision adopting the business plan and setting budget expectations to be more fully developed in annual budget filings.
    3. Annual Budget – PA and stakeholder developed, PAs file annually via advice letter; provides a budget for the programs/implementation strategies described in the business plans.
    4. Implementation Plan – PA and stakeholder developed, not formally filed with the Commission; uploaded onto a Commission-maintained website as (and a PA website also, at each PA’s discretion); provides detail on programs/implementation strategies.
  3. It allows for PAs to make minor program changes more easily by eliminating very specific program details from the application and fund-shifting advice letters.
  4. It establishes a stakeholder forum to vet energy efficiency portfolio plans outside of formal regulatory proceedings where the Stakeholder Coordinating Committee can vet business plans, annual advice letters, implementation plans, and portfolio metrics while they are in development.
  5. It adopts a “bus stop” approach for deadlines for the critical steps in the portfolio updates, setting a reliable, regular schedule for future updates, so that any new information that “misses a bus” can get on board when the bus rolls around to the stop again the following year.
  6. There will be another decision in Phase 2, with a target for early 2016, which will look at standardizing statewide programs and possible changes to third party programs. Until a decision comes out, programs can continue as currently authorized.
A Closer Look

The Local Government Sustainability Energy Coalition (LGSEC) prepared a memo for its members that summarizes the Proposed Decision on the Rolling Portfolio and is allowing SEEC to share it with our participants. These memos and other regulatory updates are one of the benefits of LGSEC membership. LGSEC Comments on the Proposed Decision can be found here.

[textblock align=”center”]View or download the LGSEC memo on the CPUC’s Proposed DecisionClick here to view the LGSEC memo on the CPUC’s Proposed Decision[/textblock]

CEC’s Draft 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Is Out

The California Energy Commission’s Draft 2015 Integrated Energy Policy Report has been released for public comment. The report makes energy policy recommendations based on the Energy Commission’s energy assessments and forecasts with the intent of conserving resources, protecting the environment, providing reliable energy, enhancing the state’s economy, and protecting public health and safety.

[textblock align=”center”]View a summary presentation of what the report contains[/textblock]

[textblock align=”center”]View the 2015 Draft Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR)[/textblock]

Comments are due by November 10th. More information can be found at

Check out the draft energy sector adaptation implementation plan

In response to a directive from California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the Natural Resources Agency is seeking public comment on a draft plan for how California will prepare for and adapt to the catastrophic effects of climate change, including extended droughts and wildfires, rising sea levels and increasingly extreme weather.

The Natural Resources Agency seeks public comment on the draft plan through the end of November, and will hold two public meetings this month to gather input from interested citizens, scientists, government officials, and other stakeholders. The Safeguarding California: Implementing Actions Plan document will be revised based on public comments, with a final version scheduled for release in December.

[textblock align=”center”]View the Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans[/textblock]

The Energy Sector Plan spans from page 49-66 and includes the following segments: Introduction, Vulnerability Assessment, Current Actions to Prepare for Climate Impacts, Next Steps, and Monitoring and Evaluation. Comments are due by November 30th to

Public workshops to gather input on the plan will be held on October 26th in Sacramento and October 27th in Los Angeles. Learn more at

Check out the General Plan Guidelines Update

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has been engaged in an extensive update to the General Plan Guidelines, informed by extensive outreach, engagement, and collaboration with state agencies and stakeholders. This comprehensive update seeks to create a suite of tools for planners, practitioners, and the general public to help update local general plans.

[textblock align=”center”]View the public draft of the update to the General Plan Guidelines for the State of California[/textblock]

OPR will be holding multiple community outreach events throughout California during the public comment period for the draft GPG update. Planners, practitioners, and community members are invited to attend and learn about the updated guidelines, ask questions, and share their feedback. Check the OPR website ( for upcoming dates and to register for events.  OPR is working to schedule more sessions throughout the state, and they will be listed as they are scheduled. The current schedule and location of events is below:

October 29, 2015     Salinas
November 3,2015    Mendocino
November 6,2015    Sacramento
November 10, 2015 Fresno
November 16, 2015 Stockton
November 30, 2015 Los Angeles
December 1, 2015   San Bernadino
December 2, 2015   San Diego
December 3, 2015   Oakland
December 4, 2015   San Francisco

Questions and comments can be directed to

Technology Feature

Renewable Diesel (RD)

Renewable Diesel (RD), also known as High Performance Renewable (HPR), Hydrogenation-Derived Renewable Diesel (HDRD), Green Diesel or Second-Generation Biodiesel – but for our purposes, we’ll simply call it RD, is the product of fats or vegetable oils. We’re hearing about cities switching their public fleet fuel to RD and wanted to find out more. Here’s what Keith Leech, Chief of the Fleet Division and Parking Enterprise for the County of Sacramento has to say about Renewable Diesel:

What about Renewable Diesel makes it more attractive than other renewable fuels available?

RD does not jeopardize OEM engine warranties and there is no special fuel infrastructure or retrofits to OEM equipment required to implement RD.

We’re seeing cities, such as San Francisco, switching public fleet fuel from petroleum to renewable diesel. What are the expected costs and benefits of this change?

Due to the tax credits available to producers of RD, it is anticipated that RD cost to fleets will be equivalent to petroleum diesel while achieving a significant reduction in GHG/carbon emissions.  Some incremental cost for transportation may be required for fleets not in close proximity to RD import locations.

What is the State doing to make RD more accessible?

State of CA DGS is about to award a bid for RD to enable their customer departments to comply with recently adopted renewable fuel goals being applied to the stat fleet. Once the contract is awarded, CA Cities and Counties will be able to piggy back on the srate’s RD contract which is anticipated to provide extremely competitive if not lower pricing than petroleum diesel due to the state’s high volume requirements.

What role will RD play for local governments, as well as everyday drivers, to help achieve aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction goals that the State has set?

It should accelerate alternative fuel adoption with RD as one of the most cost effective strategies to those governments, companies, or everyday drivers seeking to dramatically lower their carbon footprint.

[textblock align=”center”]View or download additional resources on Renewable Diesel[/textblock]

Special thanks to Tim Taylor, Division Manager for Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and Vice President and Co-coordinator for Sacramento Clean Cities Coalition, for your insight and resources.

Tools & Resources

SEEC Energy Calendar

It’s hard to keep track of all of the energy-related workshops and webinars taking place throughout the state. That’s why we developed the SEEC Energy Calendar – to help you keep track of what’s going on, when it’s happening, and where to be to catch the action.

[textblock align=”center”]View the SEEC Energy Calendar[/textblock]

If you have any events you’d like to see on the calendar, please send details to

The Beacon Program

The Institute for Local Government (ILG) and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative (SEEC) are excited to announce this year’s Beacon Award Winners:

  • City of Brisbane (gold)
  • City of Redwood City (silver)
  • City of Hayward (silver)
  • City of South Gate (silver)
  • County of San Mateo (silver)

Congratulations California Beacon Communities! We also distributed 85 Beacon Spotlight Awards to more than 30 cities for their achievements in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy and adopting programs and policies that create more sustainable communities. For a complete list of winners, visit

The Beacon Program is a statewide program that provides support and recognition to California cities and counties that are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and adopt policies and programs that promote sustainability. The program provides a framework for local governments to share best practices that create healthier, more efficient vibrant communities, and honors voluntary efforts by local governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and adopt policies that promote sustainability. The Beacon Program is sponsored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative. To learn more, visit

SEEC ClearPath

SEEC ClearPath California is an all-in-one suite of online tools to help you complete your government operations and community-wide GHG inventory, forecast and climate action plan.

  • Performing GHG inventories and forecasts is now far easier for California local governments, thanks to the Suite’s powerful, user-friendly features developed by ICLEI.
  • SEEC ClearPath California contains the updated Inventory, Forecasting, and Climate Action Planning modules.  These tools enable detailed energy and emissions accounting for both government operations and community scale activities.
  • A no-cost tool, with no software to install — it’s all online.
  • To gain access to SEEC ClearPath California, please click “Account Setup” to the right and complete the form.
  • To learn more about this NO-COST tool for California local governments, visit

SDG&E’s Energy Innovation Center

Expand your skill set with no-cost classes at SDG&E’s Energy Innovation Center! The Energy Innovation Center’s Workforce Education & Training program offers individualized help to Trade Professionals, associations and business & residential customers through industry-specific seminars, workshops and certification courses. There’s even a Food Service Demonstration Kitchen where food service professionals can test and compare over 40 pieces of energy-efficient equipment. Visit for a list of classes and to learn more.

CivicSpark AmeriCorps Program

CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity for local governments to address climate change in California, administered by the Local Government Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

CivicSpark helps local governments build their climate response capacity by working directly with local staff or in the community on projects that address their larger climate-action goals. Each year, 48 CivicSpark fellows, organized in regional teams, work with a range of local and regional project partners such as cities, counties, regional agencies, school districts, MPOs and NGOs, helping them implement local climate-smart projects such as greenhouse gas inventories, complete streets plans and water-conservation campaigns. With the support and assistance from CivicSpark, these projects help move our communities toward a healthier, safer and more resilient future. To learn more, visit

[textblock align=”center”]View or download the CivicSpark flyer for local government agencies[/textblock]

Mark Your Calendars

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Join the Energy Division for EM&V Fundamentals Training Workshop for Local Governments,a CPUC-sponsored Webinar Unplugged, on Tuesday, October 27th from 10:30-11:30am at 866-630-5989 (Access Code 336 2110#). The purpose of this webinar is for the Energy Division to inform and improve the capacity of the LG stakeholder community to increase active participation and evaluation study results.

[textblock align=”center”]View or download the webinar presentation[/textblock]

A webinar unplugged is a conference call convening stakeholders to listen in as Energy Division provides a presentation on a topic of immediate interest. The presentation slides are provided in advance of the webinar. The host moderator draws from the slides and expands on them for the delivery of the presentation. The host prompts the audience to “turn the page” either printed or via device to read along. Benefits? Besides saving public dollars, you are provided the slides well in advance. Thus, you are able to come to the webinar well informed so as to have your questions prepared and at the ready. Because a webinar unplugged requires less time to prepare for, Energy Division is able to conduct webinars unplugged more frequently and on shorter notice.

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REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN – for the nation’s largest smart growth and sustainability event! The theme for the 2016 conference is “Practical Tools and Innovative Strategies for Creating Great Communities,” underscoring a stronger emphasis on implementation tools and strategies, and new technologies that will help communities NOW! The program will feature a dynamic mix of over 80 sessions, workshops and trainings for veteran experts to smart-growth novices, also including optional tours of model projects and networking opportunities. Early Bird registration rates are available now through December 4th! Visit for more details!

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Save the date and stay tuned for more details on the
2nd biennial California Adaptation Forum! This forum reflects the diverse needs and challenges facing California, bringing together leading voices from around the state to share insights about how we can most effectively respond.

What did you think?

We would love to hear from you about how we can provide the information, resources, and tools you need to advance your climate and energy initiatives to create a lasting impact in your community and for California. What did you find valuable in this newsletter? What are you interested in seeing in the next newsletter (December 2015)? Please contact Julia Kim at statewideenergycoordinator or 916-448-1198 x304 to share your thoughts.


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