Energy Commission’s Diversity Program Integrates New Ideas to Broaden Outreach

For more than a year, the California Energy Commission has been formalizing its efforts to maximize opportunities for diverse communities to participate in and benefit from Energy Commission funding programs and other activities.

The process began last February when the Energy Commission established a Diversity Working Group to coordinate its various outreach activities. The group developed tools and strategies to enhance the diversity program, standards to measure its success, and processes for turning lessons learned into best practices.

The Energy Commission’s goals were formalized when it adopted a resolution that April committing to expanding its outreach to disadvantaged communities; increasing participation in its funding opportunities by women, minority, disabled veteran, and LGBT businesses; and increasing diversity in employment and promotion opportunities.

In October, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 865, the EmPower California Act, which put the force of law behind the Energy Commission’s diversity efforts.

Since 2015, the Energy Commission has:
  • Awarded nearly 30 grants to projects located in disadvantaged communities.
  • Provided almost $230 million in Proposition 39 funding to Local Educational Agencies in the top seven counties with the highest use of the Free or Reduced Meal Program. 
  • Provided funding for four solar energy systems to be installed on affordable housing-eligible projects in disadvantaged communities.
  • Awarded a contract supporting the Bright Schools program to a firm where 5 percent of its subcontractors are certified as a disabled veteran business enterprise.
  • Participated in more than 150 tribal consultations and liaison meetings on power plant and transmission issues. 
  • Launched a LinkedIn group page to connect potential applicants with contractors.
The Energy Commission recently hosted its first EmPower California Workshop where more than 130 participants from across the state learned about the agency's many funding programs and how to apply for them. Participants also learned about and had a chance to comment on its proposed Diversity Task Force that would be responsible for helping to increase diversity in the energy sector.

The workshop was a kickoff for AB 865, and Cesar Anda from Assemblymember Luis Alejo’s office helped open the program. Assemblymember Alejo authored AB 865, which requires the Energy Commission to develop and implement a diversity outreach program for icontract, grant, and loan award programs and to address and promote local and targeted hiring.

Job seekers will have an opportunity to learn more about the Energy Commission’s employment opportunities at a diversity career fair April 29.

More information about the Energy Commission’s diversity program, career fair or AB 865, can be found here.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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