Metropolitan Transportation Commission Member Spotlight

Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN)

We live in a country tailored for convenience. Many of the products we consume are convenient and created to encourage consumption. Consumerism in the form of electricity is exacerbated by old energy-hogging appliances and drafty building materials typically used in older homes. However, cultures are shifting, and Californians are beginning to understand that convenience might not be so convenient for the environment and public health. The following LGSEC Member Spotlight showcases a group of governments providing a convenient and cost-effective strategy to improve the energy-efficiency in our homes.

Goal:

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), now the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is the program administer for the Bay Area Regional Energy Network, also known as BayREN. This network provides energy saving programs on a regional scale ranging across nine counties, serving half the population of PG&E territory. BayREN works on long-term, cross-sector energy use reduction strategies with local governments, encouraging retrofit projects through education, training, technical assistance, and rebates/financing. The four program areas include:

  1. Single Family Home Upgrades
  2. Multifamily Upgrades
  3. Codes & Standards
  4. Financing

In 2017 BayREN has paid more than $7 million in incentives to residents, saved 2.7 GWH of annual energy savings, and prevented 0.28 MM therms of natural gas from being emitted. Implementing these energy-saving programs is a source of economic development because they create local jobs and support local businesses. Furthermore, retrofitting homes increases property value and improves environmental and public health.

Single Family Home Upgrades:

The Home Upgrade Program and Advanced Home Upgrade Program are incentive programs that assign Participating Contractors to households to create a customized energy-saving plan. Depending on the upgrades made and which program is chosen, BayREN provides homeowners an Assessment Incentive up to $300 and rebates up to $5,500. With over  $3,410,640 in incentives provided in 2017, 1,585 Home Upgrade projects, and 458 Advanced Home Upgrade Assessments completed, the program has created 63 jobs and saved residents an average of 414 kWh and 110 therms per home.

In the future, the Home Upgrade programs plans to deploy Smart Communicating Thermostats and a Participating Contractor Calendar to improve access to training opportunities and support workforce development for contractors, raters, and assessors. BayREN plans to transition out of the Home Upgrade program but will keep successful elements to create a more affordable program. Preparations for the new program include market research and planning for wrap-around services, support, and financing through properly aligned incentives, low-cost introductory efficiency services, and improved equitable access to services/upgrades.

Multi-Family Home Upgrades:

Also referred to as Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancement Program (BAMBE), this program works directly with multi-residential building owners to holistically install energy-saving upgrades. Over 26,000 multi-family units have been upgraded, and technical assistance was provided to over 76,000 units. Since 2013, $19,500,000+ in rebates have been issued, and 383 projects have been completed. In 2017 alone, $3,896,250 in incentives were received which helped complete 64 projects and improve 5,195 units.

In the future, BAMBE will continue to run in the short-to-mid term while new and complementary strategies will be added to increase long-term relationships with residents. Rebates will be reduced and replaced with mid-to-long term market drivers such as green labeling, local government policies, and financing.

Financing:

There are 3 financing programs available to participating members:

(1) Multifamily Capital Advance Program (BAMCAP) offers no-interest co-financing to lower the cost of capital for property owners. $1,060,000 in loans have been used for four non-profit affordable housing projects. In the future, a Lender Referral Service for loans under $100,000 will be launched, which will help simplify the process for property owners and reduce transaction costs for lenders.

(2) Commercial PACE channels outreach, education, and ongoing support services to building owners, first mortgage lenders, capital providers/PACE administrators, and contractors. A major project funded by a PACE bond through the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program was an LED lighting retrofit in Petaluma. In the future, Energy Efficiency Advisor services will be expanded with additional energy efficiency measures and incentives. Free analysis opportunities, rebates, and incentives will be identified and include projected savings in project economics. BayREN will also partner with Bay Area capital providers and PG&E to explore streamlined offerings for smaller projects.

(3) Water Bill Savings Program provides financing with no up-front cost for water and energy efficiency improvements to renters and low-income housing residents. So far, retrofits have been completed in 448 multi family units and 247 single family homes, which amounts to $602,589 in costs with $156,353 covered by rebates.

Codes & Standards:

BayREN works closely with local governments to enhance the enforcement of energy, water, and green building codes along with regulating measurements for code compliance. Some methods used to enforce codes and standards is to include Permit Guides, Regional Forums, and aligning policies across jurisdictions. Progress has been made by completing 43 classroom training sessions that reached 495 building professionals in 2017.

In the future, short-to-mid term tactics will enhance code compliance opportunities for specific Bay Area local and regional governments, and successful existing services (energy code compliance, specialized training, etc.) will continue to be funded to support other BayREN programs.

Figure 3.  Sample City Energy Dashboard  Figure 4. Sample Individual Facility Energy Dashboard

Funding:

Funding for these energy efficiency programs is provided by California utility ratepayers under California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Additional grants and funding have been provided by the California Energy Commission (CEC), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD).

In 2017, about 34.8% of funding went towards Single Family Home Upgrades, 38.9% to Multifamily Upgrades, 8.4% to Codes and Standards, and 7.3% to Financing programs for a sum of $14,981,540 in expenditures, which was about $1.75 million under budget.

Program Partners:

BayREN’s primary partners are; Counties of Marin, Solano, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo as well as Sonoma Regional Climate Protection Authority, San Francisco Department of Environment, and StopWaste/Energy Council.

Participating LGSEC members:
  • Marin County
  • Santa Clara County
  • Contra Costa County
  • San Francisco County
  • Sonoma County
  • City of Benicia
  • City of Berkeley
  • City of Cupertino
  • City of San Jose
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