SBC to host new Energy Efficiency Program - Rural Regional Energy Network - in 14 Sierra Nevada counties

Sherry Hao

Sherry Hao

Director, Climate & Energy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 27, 2023

CONTACT

Media: Jill Sanford, Communications Director, jsanford@sierrabusiness.org, 530.562.4991

General Inquiries: Sherry Hao, Director, Energy Services shao@sierrabusiness.org, 530.582.4800 ext. 113

New Funding and Formation of Rural Regional Energy Network Offers Energy Efficiency Programs to California’s Underserved Communities

California Public Utilities Commission approves over $177 million for expanded access; with Sierra Business Council convening a 14-county region within the Sierra

NEVADA CITY, CA — The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the formation of a Rural Regional Energy Network (RuralREN) on June 29, 2023 to expand access to energy efficiency services for customers and communities in the State’s rural areas. Starting in January 2024, a seven-member partnership, encompassing public and non-profit agencies with decades of experience implementing programs in their regions, will collaborate on programs funded by an eight-year investment of more than $17 million allocated to underserved areas.

Sierra Business Council, one of the seven members in this partnership, will be the regional administrator of the Sierra Nevada RuralREN, which includes Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Tuolumne, and Yuba counties. The six RuralREN programs that Sierra Business Council will offer in these counties are: residential resource acquisition program, commercial resource acquisition program, residential equity program, finance program, workforce education and training program, and codes and standards program.

“Sierra Business Council has been working on bringing the RuralREN to the Sierra Nevada region for several years. We are excited to offer these much-needed energy-saving resources and programs in our region,” says Sherry Hao, Sierra Business Council’s director of energy services. 

The RuralREN will bring energy efficiency programs to underserved and hard-to-reach public, commercial, and residential customers in 31 rural California counties, which include 66 Federally recognized California Native American Tribal Governments and encompass nearly half the state. In collaboration with lead program administrator Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), member organizations will serve more than seven million customers, or 18% of California’s population, spanning over 70,000 square miles.

“The formation of the RuralREN will allow local entities that know their communities and unique characteristics and obstacles, such as climate zones, languages spoken, and socioeconomics, to design and implement programs tailored to the distinctive needs of local ratepayers,” said Pam Close Bold, Executive Director of the High Sierra Energy Foundation. “Past ratepayer-funded programs didn’t always equitably serve rural and hard-to-reach customers as a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work.” 

Energy efficiency is an integral part of meeting California’s aggressive decarbonization policies and goals to combat climate change. Yet, the most vulnerable of utility customers often do not have equitable access to utility energy efficiency programs into which they pay every month. In fact, the average energy burden in the RuralREN region is 45% higher than in the rest of California. The availability of newly funded and locally implemented programs will help customers access financing options for energy projects and accelerate workforce education and training, energy codes, standards training, energy assessments, rebates, and incentives for cleaner, energy-efficient equipment.

Other RuralREN member organizations include the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments and County of San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast; the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization in the San Joaquin Valley; the High Sierra Energy Foundation in the Eastern Sierran, and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) in the North Coast, in partnership with the Lake Area Planning Council and Mendocino Council of Governments. The County of Ventura is a non-implementing member of the RuralREN leadership team. 

Sierra Business Council (SBC) catalyzes innovative approaches to increase community vitality, economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social fairness in the Sierra Nevada. More information on SBC’s impact can be found at www.sierrabusiness.org.

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