Competitive environments breed innovation and evolution, and California, with the most stringent energy-efficiency goals of all the United States, establishes many trends. As a result, industry leaders and policy-makers across the country look to the state as a trailblazer to meet and create their own requirements.

In 2010, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the Lighting Action Plan, which requires a 60–80 percent reduction in statewide electrical lighting energy consumption. However, California didn’t make this requirement on a whim. According to Bernie Kotlier, executive director, Energy Solutions, California Labor Management Cooperation Committee, IBEW-NECA, the CPUC looked to the California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP) to assess the plan’s feasibility.

“We established through CALCTP that it worked. The CPUC did a thorough study on market transformation in the area of energy efficiency. It subcontracted that study [to the University of California, Berkeley], which referenced CALCTP as a model. It’s the one and only program that was referenced as a model,” Kotlier said.

Kotlier said simply installing advanced lighting controls isn’t enough if the installation isn’t performed correctly. Through advanced training, contractors can make the most use of the technology, maximizing energy and monetary savings.

“We discovered a lot of lighting control systems were not working to their specified optimum efficiency. Some of them weren’t working at all. So we have all these drivers promoting lighting controls, which aren’t delivering. Utilities found one of the primary reasons was installation was not being done correctly,” Kotlier said.

To date, 1,685 electricians have graduated from the comprehensive development program, which is a rigorous and demanding course of study that prepares electricians to install the most advanced lighting control technology.

“CALCTP is an arc of training skills, including installation, calibration, programming, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and maintenance. It includes lighting control systems manufactured by 14 different companies, spanning all the major control systems and approaches, wired and wireless, line voltage and low-voltage, occupancy sensor, photo sensors, timers, and system networks, incorporating multiple technologies,” Kotlier said.

Some electricians are going to CALCTP because their employers sent them for training, but with the down economy and high unemployment rate, other forward-thinking electricians are going to CALCTP to gain skills that will make them more appealing to contractors looking to secure energy-efficiency work.

The program has proven so successful that other states have expressed interest in having the same operation, Kotlier said. Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin have all expressed strong interest, and the plan is to hold a train-the-trainer event to enable those states to begin their programs with the support of third-party administration—CALCTP’s only requirement. Kotlier said CALCTP will license the curriculum to these states at no cost, and they could begin to roll out their programs later this year. With the roll-out, CALCTP will take its first steps toward becoming a national operation called NALCTP.

“Lighting is the biggest single load in facilities in the United States,” Kotlier said. “Lamps have become much more efficient, but we’ve squeezed them. The biggest opportunity to save at this point is controls, so CALCTP and NALCTP are important vehicles or channels for that opportunity to save energy.”