East Bay Energy Watch 2017


Hitting the Ground Running

On Tuesday, February 28th, the new East Bay Energy Watch program launched, a partnership between CESC and DNV GL to offer businesses in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties opportunities to install energy efficiency upgrades while receiving technical assistance, project management and rebates.

DNV GL offices were packed with electrical contractors as well as PG&E, MCE Clean Energy, local government and program staff at the contractor training; they met to discuss best practices for the New Year. Although the program launched only recently, it already has many customers who have received lighting upgrades to LEDs, and many more installation projects in the pipeline.


History of Success

Previously, East Bay Energy Watch was the name for one of 21 local government partnerships between PG&E, local municipalities, and energy efficiency programs. EBEW programs and services are funded by California utility ratepayers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The East Bay partnership was the first in California, beginning with PG&E’s partnership with first just the City of Oakland before expanding to all of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.  

CESC’s SmartLights program began work in Berkeley in 1998, expanding to neighboring cities in 2000. DNV GL’s BEST program began work in Oakland in 2002. In 2004 with funding from PG&E, SmartLights and BEST began offering services to small businesses in all of Alameda and Contra Costa County. The programs each had their own geographic territory, which reduced direct competition and allowed a complementary relationship to develop over the years.

SmartLights and BEST are based on different program models. SmartLights has energy assessors who provide turn-key services and start-to-finish support for small businesses. BEST works primarily with electrical contractors, providing them with the resources they need to market energy efficiency retrofits and deliver large energy savings. Yet both models have been highly successful – together SmartLights and BEST have saved local businesses more than 200,000 megawatt hours over the last 15 years in the East Bay!



For 2017, BEST and SmartLights programs are bringing their strengths together to form a single program, East Bay Energy Watch. For local businesses and contractors this collaboration will mean:  

 * One program offering throughout Alameda and Contra Costa County
* Streamlined and simplified paperwork for projects
* The ability to work with both DNV GL engineers and SmartLights energy assessors 
* Fast processing of rebates

Providing rebates and technical assistance for lighting retrofits, commercial refrigeration motors and controls, as well as heating, ventilation and air condition controls, EBEW is the new one-stop shop for businesses to take control of their energy use, reduce their costs, and improve operations.

Do you know a business that could use help with a lighting or motor upgrade, or is interested in learning about how they can be more energy efficient?

Contact EBEW today!  
(800) 576-6405
East Bay Energy Watch

Lighting the Way

When SmartLights Outreach Specialist Evan Riter gets a lead on a business that may be interested in saving energy and money, he’s immediately on the case. He’s eager to spread the word about saving energy, saving money–and making it happen for small and medium-sized businesses.

CESC’s SmartLights program is designed to help Bay Area businesses use energy more efficiently. This program offers free start-to-finish technical assistance and instant rebates, paid for by PG&E and MCE Clean Energy as directed by the California Public Utilities Commission, to help defray the cost of upgrading or repairing existing equipment. SmartLights can help with comprehensive lighting retrofits, refrigeration tune-ups, controls, and seals replacement, and referrals to appropriate HVAC programs. But some jobs are as simple as replacing out-of-date lighting with the newest, most energy-efficient lighting, LEDs.

Once Evan has a conversation with a potential client, he finds it pretty easy to convince the business owner or manager to participate in SmartLights and upgrade lighting or other energy-using appliances in their business. The decision means better lighting and lower energy bills.

Evan especially likes it when a SmartLights job is simple enough that he can handle it himself, rather than bringing in an in-house or external contractor. It means that he can make sure the customer is satisfied, because he is there in person gauging reactions, and he conducts a brief interview on the spot to find out if they are satisfied. He also leaves the client with his contact information and lets them know they are able to call him at a later date to fix anything that they are not happy with.


“I have a background in lighting. I designed and built exhibits for museums for about 25 years. I’ve also worked with live theatre doing lighting, so I understand some of the more esoteric concerns of businesses like beauty salons or art galleries. They are very concerned with color temperature (the warmth or coolness of the light), beam spread or width, and other lighting issues that influence the atmosphere of the business. I’m able to ask the right questions to understand what they need so that the project can go as smoothly as possible.”

On a few occasions, especially with hair salons, he has received a follow-up call about the quality of the light emitted by the new lightbulbs. What first seemed just right has become, after a week or two, too bright or harsh. In these cases, Evan happily returns and trades out the unwanted bulbs for those with a softer or warmer tone. That’s something that some contractors may not be  willing to do.

Evan notes that aesthetically inclined clients love the results they are getting. ‘I did a job at an art gallery in Sausalito called Galerie Elektra. Galerie Elektra cut its electricity bill in half. We replaced MR16s, little tiny round halogen bulbs that give out bright light, with LED equivalents. There was a lot of savings, because each of those bulbs was 50 watts. We replaced them with bulbs that were about 7 watts each. When you’re talking about over 100 bulbs, the savings adds up.”

Evan sometimes gets turned down, perhaps because some people suspect it must be too good to be true. However he is so persistent that most of his contacts turn into clients. The work is usually almost free to them, since the reimbursements typically cover the cost of the new lighting. And the savings are impressive. “The more they do, and the greater the difference between what they had and what they’re getting, the more savings they get. We do sometimes replace CFLs, because, depending on quantity, switching to LEDs can still add up to a pretty nice savings per month.”

Do you know of a business that could benefit from an energy upgrade? Call Evan! at SmartLights.

Verde Elementary School Sees the Light

Energy Conservation Program Manager Julio Arroyo is always looking for ways to save energy for the West Contra Costa Unified School District. When Julio found an opportunity to implement a major lighting retrofit at Verde Elementary School with the help of the SmartLights Program, he knew taking the opportunity was the right decision.

Verde Elementary is a K-6 school in North Richmond situated on 8 acres of land, with an enrollment of about 320 students. On the school’s website, Principal Eric Acosta-Verprauskus describes the environment as “a collaborative network of thinkers focused on high achievement and embracing the whole child so that students grow academically and socially in a safe and positive environment to become college graduates, leaders, and lifelong learners.” CESC has collaborated in the past with Verde Elementary via the Family Sustainability Project. The school has been a destination of the Prescott-Joseph Center’s Breathmobile ®, which refers clients to our Healthy Homes Program.

Next it was time for CESC to help improve the school’s energy efficiency. The SmartLights Program performed a lighting assessment for the school and put together a detailed report outlining the projected cost, rebate and energy savings of the project, as well as the recommended lighting replacement measures. Contractors then came in and installed the lights to specifications, with the school receiving an up-front rebate to reduce the cost. Now, the school has replaced its fluorescent lights with new, energy-efficient lighting in its gym, classrooms, and library. The exterior and parking lot lighting was also replaced, a change which Julio explained “adds an element of safety for our maintenance staff that we didn’t have before.”

Julio Arroyo showing off new library lighting at Verde Elementary School

When you tour the newly lit school grounds, the impact of the bright, uniform lighting is immediately clear. Julio was particularly pleased with the new look of the library, which the lights show off to great effect.


Julio appreciated the instant rebates that SmartLights offered, which “allowed us to put more energy efficiency measures into place.” Thanks to the new, efficient lighting system, the school will now save an estimated $13,766 per year on its energy costs, a win for the district and a win for students.

Do you know of a school or business that could benefit from an energy upgrade? Contact SmartLights now!

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