In an era when policy-makers, public officials, opinion leaders and voters can’t seem to agree on much, at least one issue is compelling enough to forge a consensus among a wide-reaching, disparate group of stakeholders, who are often more likely to be at odds.
In California, stage regulatory agencies, local government officials, utilities, ratepayers and nongovernmental organizations have rallied around the cause of energy efficiency. They have come together in unprecedented fashion to create Energy Upgrade California, a program that will offer rebates for retrofits to commercial and residential property owners.
The program will encourage and educate the public and create incentives to perform efficiency retrofits by forming a centralized clearinghouse of information, rebate programs and resources.
It will receive more than $1.2 billion from a variety of sources, including $145 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act administered by the California Energy Commission. Rounding out the funding is another $13 million from the State Employment Development Department’s Workforce Investment and $1 billion from investor-owned utilities for residential and commercial building upgrades.
The program will encourage energy-efficiency upgrades through various channels. First, it will educate residential and commercial consumers and the building industry about energy- and water-efficiency programs and financing options. Second, it will provide a consistent and clear message regarding best practices and qualified contractors to perform retrofits. Third, the program’s website will serve as a central resource for all the state’s energy-efficiency upgrade, rebate and incentive programs. Finally, the program will educate the building trades and home improvement industry on jobs, training and required certifications.
Local utilities will administer rebates. The Energy Upgrade website, www.energyupgradeca.org/overview, will serve as a portal for information about local programs. Each of California’s 58 counties has its own page that highlights the program’s local features. Property owners can enter their ZIP code or county name to learn about available upgrade programs, rebates, financing options and participating contractors in their areas.
The program is available now for single-family detached homes. It will be expanded this year to include multifamily and commercial properties.