Solano EDC, PG&E collaborate to save businesses energy costs

June 04 2019

Daily Republic June 4, 2019 By Todd R. Hansen

FAIRFIELD — The energy watch programs, administered through the Solano Economic Development Corporation and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., have provided area businesses and municipalities more than $2.6 million in energy savings and kicked back $2 million in rebates.

The energy savings amounts to 12.43 million kilowatt-hours, or the equivalent of the energy used in 921 homes for one year, a quarterly report from the Solano Economic Development Corp. states.

Both the energy savings and rebate figures are the accumulated totals since the inception of the program in 2014 through 2018, the agency reports.

J. Paul Harrington, program director for Solano Economic Development Corp., said the agency essentially serves as a marketing arm for the program, reaching out to small- and medium-sized businesses about improving their energy efficiency.

Rio Vista, Suisun City, Vacaville and Solano County have benefitted from the program as well.

The economic development agency has a $168,337 contract with PG&E to administer the program through June 30. Harrington said a new contract is being negotiated.

A third party, The Energy Alliance Association, is involved in rebate calculations and other parts of the program.

Harrington said the primary targets are businesses, typically with 10 or fewer employees, who are difficult to reach through more mainstream outreach.

A common scenario, he said, is to go into a mom-and-pop outlet that is using old energy technology and help them upgrade. A lot of those companies, he said, simply cannot afford the upfront costs.

There are kilowatt usage caps under which the customer must fall.

Through the rebate program, which is based on calculations on anticipated savings, contractors are asked to front the costs and are paid when those funds become available. Those calculations are based on averages for similar businesses, based on size, assembly or customer base and other factors.

“We try to go with as many Solano County contractors as we can, if they are willing to (be part of the program),” Harrington said.

“Sometimes we can do it for no cost (to the business), just a signature,” he said.

Other times the businesses must pay the difference above the rebate total.

The rebates come out of public purpose funds, which every PG&E customer pays into. An explanation is posted on the back of each month’s bill.

A utility spokeswoman said those funds support programs such as those with which the Solano Economic Development Corp. is involved, but also residential programs and even research into energy efficiency technology. The total amount customers paid into the fund in 2018 was not immediately available.

For information on how businesses or municipalities can participate, contact Harrington by email at or by phone at 864-1855.