Q: You’ve been involved with reach codes both at the local level as well as the statewide level. Tell us how these two activities differ?
A: The biggest difference is the scope of the activity. At the local level, PG&E supports jurisdictions through energy efficiency programs, such as the one that supports Local Energy Codes, incentive programs, Workforce Education & Training to support new technologies (like our induction loaner program), and other local government programs. Also, at PG&E we support jurisdictions by providing support letters, or in some cases, representation at public meetings to answer questions from Council members or stakeholders about concerns that arise when considering a reach code.
At the statewide level, the collaborative multi-utility team that includes Southern California Edison and SDG&E develops offerings that support all of California, regardless of what energy provider serves the community. This includes cost-effectiveness studies, model language, fact sheets, webinars, the Cost Effectiveness Explorer and more. We also collaborate with the RENs, CCAs, and other organizations to assure we understand local needs.
Given that we are just beginning a new cycle, I also want to mention the work of Energy Code Ace, which creates and manages a comprehensive offering of tools, training and resources for code compliance. The Energy Code Ace materials can be very helpful for jurisdictions in their reach code work as well.
Q: Are there specific benefits for statewide collaboration on codes and standards work?
A: I think so, very significant ones. First of all, a statewide effort results in a unified body of work that supports or underpins efforts from all corners of the state. While the energy needs of Humboldt County may be dramatically different from those in Imperial County, the existence of a unified library of research, resources and technical support offers a solid common foundation that can be refined to meet unique local needs. Secondly, this foundation tends to encourage more regional collaborations, as we’ve seen in Santa Barbara County and elsewhere. Finally, it’s important for every jurisdiction to realize that they can access this unified network, regardless of whether the community’s energy needs are served by an investor-owned utility, a CCA, or a publicly owned utility.
Q: We’re just entering a new code cycle, with the effective date of the 2022 Building Energy Code occurring this month. What do you see as the major trends in reach codes during this cycle over the next three years?
A: We’re beginning to see more emphasis on extending reach codes to existing buildings. A modest number of jurisdictions have already adopted retrofit-focused reach codes, with a significant number exploring the feasibility and approaches for their communities in the upcoming cycle. Also, the passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act last year offers local communities some new opportunities in the way of financial incentives that may provide additional leverage for these types of measures.
Electrification measures continue to be of significant interest. I hope that we see an uptick in the number of jurisdictions interested in energy efficiency measures, as the strongest package may be the one that reduces energy demand in addition to meeting decarbonization goals. In the area of building performance standards, there are some interesting developments, such as the recent announcement of a Federal Building Performance Standard by the Biden administration. It may be too soon to know whether these types of standards will be effective policy tools in the reach codes space.
Q: What advice would you give to local staff as the new year and new cycle gets off to start?
A: Just a few thoughts here, although there are many that I could mention!
Firstly, I’d encourage local staff to take advantage of their peer network, especially through the monthly meetings hosted by the Statewide Reach Codes team. For more information, email email@example.com.
Secondly, our statewide collaboration is always interested in hearing from communities about additional resources or topic research that might be needed, such as resources related to EV infrastructure.
For staff located in areas served by PG&E, requests for letters or appearances in support of local reach code activity can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.