The State of State Engagement
Over the past couple of years there has been a proliferation of interest in meaningful engagement between State agencies and local leaders. The California Climate and Energy Collaborative (CCEC) has been hearing more and more that coordination between local governments and state agencies is not only wanted, it is very much necessary. If the programs that state agencies develop are going to be conducive to the needs of local governments, then those local governments need to be involved throughout the process of developing these programs. That being said, coordination and collaboration on this scale can be difficult, resource-intensive, and time-consuming. As a result, many State agencies and local governments alike have been experiencing the engagement fatigue that many of us are all too familiar with. CCEC is working to address this barrier by developing and fostering the lines of communication between state agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, the Strategic Growth Council and the local governments that these. While there is certainly more that needs to be done, CCEC has been working closely with some key State agencies over the last year to begin this work.
CCEC Comments Provided to the California Energy Commission
In light of the recent injection of federal funding for energy efficiency and sustainability programs, CCEC is committed to working with state agencies to ensure that the programs being rolled out are shaped and informed by the needs of local governments. To ensure that this critical line of communication is maintained, in early 2023 CCEC began hosting monthly coordination calls with California Energy Commission (CEC) and local government stakeholders from across the state. Initially, these calls were primarily to provide input on California’s $582M allocation of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Home Energy Rebate Programs, which CCEC will be providing official comment on later this year. These meetings eventually became a regular touch point for CCEC to provide comment on the development and implementation of CEC programs such as the Equitable Building Decarbonization Program, the Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training Grants Program, as well as the Home Energy Rebates Program.
CARB Listening Sessions
In May of 2023 CCEC and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) co-hosted the first in a series of listening sessions focused on working with climate action practitioners from across the state to identify barriers to meaningful implementation of local climate measures. This first listening session featured speakers from the City of San Diego, the County of Sonoma, the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Speakers from these organizations shared with an audience of staff from cities, counties, Air Pollution Control Districts, Councils of Government, and other local government agencies the approach of their insight on the importance of climate action planning in their implementation of these strategies and the key challenges they have faced throughout the process. agency is taking to achieve local emission reductions.
Much of this session centered around an open discussion in which attendees shared their priorities around climate action planning, identified common barriers, and what potential solutions state agencies, such as CARB, might offer to overcome these challenges. This session was the first step in solidifying a line of communication between CARB and the local government practitioners that it seeks to engage. This dialogue was continued at the State & Local Engagement Session which took place prior to the start 14th Annual California Climate & Energy Forum. CCEC plans to further facilitate this dialogue between state agencies and local governments at the upcoming quarterly State & Local Listening Sessions which will begin in Fall of 2023.
Pre-CCEC Forum State Engagement Session
In June of 2023, CCEC held its 14th Annual California Climate & Energy Forum in Santa Rosa, California. Building on the momentum of the initial May listening session co-hosted by CCEC and CARB, this meeting intended to help State and local leaders increase coordinated efforts to more rapidly unlock the unique potential of California regions and communities, and to brainstorm ways to elevate/activate the voices of strengths of California and ensure that funding and other programs reach the places that need them without diverting limited capacity away from action.
While the forum itself provided the space for climate practitioners from across the state to share their resources, best practices, and recent learnings, prior to the forum eighty local government representatives registered to attend a State & Local Listening Session co-hosted by CCEC and the Local Government Sustainable Energy Coalition (LGSEC). This meeting was facilitated by Angie Hacker, CCEC Statewide Best Practices Coordinator, in partnership with leadership from California Energy Commission (CEC), California Air Resources Board (CARB), and Strategic Growth Council (SGC).
Next Steps: State & Local Coordination Steering Meeting
CCEC’s next step in facilitating ongoing engagement between State agencies and local governments will be convening a newly formed State & Local Coordination Steering Meeting. This meeting will be open to the public and will include representatives from CARB, CEC, OPR, and SGC. The intention of these calls will be to help State and local leaders increase coordination in order to more rapidly unlock the potential of California regions and communities, to coordinate and collaborate around Statewide needs and strategic ideas to operationalize better coordination to elevate the voices and strengths of California regions and communities, and ensure that funding and other programs reach the places that need them without diverting limited capacity away from action. Lastly, these meetings intend to reduce ongoing engagement fatigue.
The State & Local Coordination Steering Meeting will include roundtable updates from each of the participating State agencies in order to coordinate on helping locals take advantage of upcoming input and assistance program opportunities, with the intention to streamline the process of providing input wherever possible. This meeting will also dedicate time to discuss immediate input needs from State agencies, identify key obstacles such as the lack of a central information hub or barriers to regional engagement, and develop potential solutions to help the State deploy necessary resources and help locals drive needed outcomes. These meetings will take place on a quarterly basis with the first of these meetings will take place September 28th, 3:00 – 4:30pm. You can register to attend this meeting series here. More information on the agenda will be shared out by CCEC staff in the coming weeks. We hope that you can join us to participate in this important dialogue!