Inland Regional Energy Network
In 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorized a new model for administering energy efficiency programs outside the traditional Investor-Owned Utility (IOU)-administered paradigm. These new models are known as Regional Energy Networks (RENs).
The CPUC sought for the RENs to address the following three operational areas:
- Undertake programs that the IOUs cannot or do not intend to do.
- Target hard-to-reach areas and disadvantaged communities.
- Design programs that have the potential to be scaled to larger geographic areas.
In addition to these directions provided by the CPUC, RENs were also directed to address Workforce Education & Training, technology development, and programs within the field of Water / Energy Nexus. The goal of a REN is to implement and administer energy efficiency programs the current IOUs cannot or do not have the available resources to implement within their service territory. In addition to this goal, RENs look to fill the economic and geographical gaps of distant, hard-to-reach, and disadvantaged communities that IOUs cannot access or have a difficult time accessing to promote energy efficiency opportunities.
Since 2018, the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) has partnered and has been strategizing with the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) and San Bernardino Council of Governments (SBCOG) on development of a REN to service the Inland Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, with WRCOG acting as the lead agency. This tri-COG group hereby collectively referred to as the Inland REN (“I-REN” or “I-REN Team”) for the purposes of this program, has submitted a Business Plan to the CPUC, and has been approved to become a REN Program Administrator (PA), with the desire to address CPUC goals and objectives described in Rulemaking 13-11-005 concerning Energy Efficiency Rolling Portfolios, Policies, Programs, Evaluation, and Related Issues. The I-REN Business Plan addresses three sectors – the Public Sector, the Codes & Standards Sector (C&S), and the Workforce, Education & Training Sector (WE&T). Throughout these sectors, there will be a strong focus on hard-to-reach communities and disadvantaged communities within the I-REN territory.
The I-REN Business Plan was approved by the CPUC on November 18, 2021, with a budget of $65 million to be funded through program years 2022 to 2027.
Public Sector and related subprograms: I-REN plans to implement a Public Sector program and related subprograms for the purpose of achieving local and State Energy Efficiency goals.
Codes & Standards Sector and subprograms: I-REN will implement a dynamic and targeted set of programs to assist local government agencies in better understanding and enforcing energy building codes.
Workforce, Education & Training (WE&T) Sector and subprograms: I-REN will implement programs to ensure there is a trained workforce to support and realize energy efficiency savings goals across sectors.