Community Energy Champion Grants Handbook and Case Studies

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In partnership with PG&E, the Silicon Valley Energy Watch has released the Community Energy Champion Grants Handbook and Case Studies, showcasing the best practices and effects of the Community Energy Champion Grants (CECG) program they run as a utility-local government partnership. The Handbook is available at the link above. To review the introduction, see below.


Handbook Introduction

Achieving California’s ambitious energy efficiency and climate goals1 requires behavioral approaches as well as technology and financial strategies. Social science literature and evidence from the field indicate that behavioral initiatives play a crucial role in realizing the full potential of consumer energy savings. Behavioral programs may “prime the pump” for retrofits and measure uptakes by expanding awareness of resources, cementing conservation-oriented behavior, ensuring that buildings are operated properly once measures are installed, and augmenting demand beyond the capacity of mandates or incentives. Gradually, utilities and state governments have begun to support behavioral energy efficiency programs. In 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recognized behavioral programs as an “eligible energy efficiency resource” in the statewide energy efficiency portfolio.

For behavioral programs to thrive, appropriate implementation frameworks must be identified. Which initiatives are best delivered at the state or regional level, and which are best left to community-based implementers? How can local implementers augment statewide campaigns, and how can governments and utilities best support them to ensure broad reach, optimal results, and consistent messaging?

Silicon Valley Energy Watch (SVEW) created the Community Energy Champions Grant (CECG) to embed an effective implementation framework, one that harnesses the power of community-based organizations to promote energy efficiency. Launched in early 2011, the CECG awarded funding and technical assistance to 16 local agencies to deliver targeted behavioral campaigns in communities across Santa Clara County, California. Largely completed by the end of 2012, the CECG experience indicates that a community-based approach, with government and utility support is, indeed, an effective delivery mechanism for energy efficiency programs. Within two years, more than 19,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers throughout the county have been reached through in-home audits, workshops, community events, and other tactics used by the various campaigns, resulting in real energy savings across a diverse swath of communities. Program results, as discussed here and in the case studies that follow, reflect the merits of the community-based approach to energy efficiency.

The City of San José joins with PG&E in proudly presenting this handbook of the SVEW-CECG program to further the concept and use of the community-based approach to behavioral energy efficiency initiatives.

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