Joint Workshop Examined Ways All Californians Can Benefit From Energy Programs

The California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a public workshop on Aug. 1 to discuss ongoing efforts to ensure all Californians have access to and benefit equally from the clean energy services, investments, and opportunities that the state has to offer.

This workshop continued the discussion of barriers and recommendations that began at the May 16 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) workshop.

Led by Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller, Energy Commissioners Janea A. Scott , Andrew McAllister, and Karen Douglas, as well as CPUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves, the Aug. 1 workshop centered on an Energy Commission study that examined barriers to low-income residents and disadvantaged communities participating in the state's transition to a low-carbon energy future.

“We know that many of the challenges are not new, have varying complexities and can’t all be solved overnight, but we are working together to ensure that low-income and disadvantaged communities are part of the clean energy revolution,” Commissioner Scott said.

The Energy Commission completed and adopted the Senate Bill 350 Low-Income Barriers Study in 2016. The study stems from a directive in SB 350, which established new energy efficiency and renewable electricity targets by 2030.

“We want all Californians to have the opportunity to contribute and benefit from the 21st century grid,” said Commissioner Guzman Aceves.

The Energy Commission developed the study based on input from advocacy groups and residents of low-income and disadvantaged communities across the state and available literature on the subject. The study identified barriers these communities face when looking to adopt energy efficiency and weatherization measures or access renewable energy resources.

The study also examined barriers preventing small businesses in disadvantaged communities from participating in contracting opportunities and clean energy investments. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is working on a companion study on the barriers these communities face in pursuing clean transportation options.

The Aug. 1 workshop focused on ways to prioritize and implement recommendations from the study and included presentations and panel discussions on consumer protections, adoption of advanced technologies, appliance efficiency opportunities for low-income customers, utility efforts to engage with low-income customers and disadvantaged communities, and strategies to increase contracting opportunities for local small businesses located in disadvantaged communities.

Workshop participants included industry experts, utility representatives, environmental organizations, community- based organizations, and others.

The Energy Commission plans to continue engaging with the CPUC, CARB, other state and local agencies, community groups, and other key stakeholders to implement the solutions identified in the study.

The Energy Commission plans to report on the progress of the recommendations in the 2017 IEPR and in a tracking progress report focused on low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Commissioner Andrew McAllister and CPUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves recap the Aug. 1 SB 350 Barriers Study Workshop:
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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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