"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation


Mendocino Energy Watch Program Supported by PG&E Recognized for Partnership Innovation

By Justine Brown

BURLINGAME, CA –Mendocino County Energy Watch, which has been helping businesses and residents save money and energy in conjunction with PG&E, was recognized for its innovation recently. The program received an honorable mention certificate for partnership innovation at the regional conference of the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials in Burlingame May 5.

Mendocino Energy Watch Program

Photo: (left to right): Jessica Waggoner, PG&E Senior Program Manager; Craig Schlatter, Development and Sustainability Manager, CDC of Mendocino County; Rob Pearson, President PSWRC-NAHRO and Executive Director of Santa Barbara Housing Authority; Todd Crabtree, Executive Director of CDC of Mendocino County, MaryLiz Paulson, VP of Member Services, PSWRC-NAHRO and Assistant Director of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.

“The Energy Watch program has led to the creation of jobs locally and has saved businesses, non-profits, and government agencies several thousands of dollars in energy bills each year,” said Craig Schlatter, development and sustainability manager for the Community Development Commission of Mendocino County (CDCMC), who accepted the award during a conference luncheon. CDCMC is a community development and public housing authority that serves approximately 900 low income clients through rental assistance. The agency also conducts a variety of community economic development and sustainability programs for Mendocino County communities.

Mendocino County Energy Watch, a local government partnership between CDCMC and PG&E, was established in 2008. The original focus of the program was the implementation of energy efficiency retrofit projects at local government buildings, nonprofit agencies, and small and medium-sized businesses.  Since that time, the partnership has expanded to provide climate action planning, including the recent successful completion of local government operations and community-wide inventories for six Mendocino and Lake County jurisdictions; ENERGY STAR building benchmarking services and analysis; and education and training programs for local building professionals and interested residents. CDCMC also provides a direct installation program for low- and moderate-income residential customers and recently began offering technical assistance services to local school districts in preparing energy expenditure plans and/or accessing Proposition 39 funds.

“Mendocino County Energy Watch is a champion for rural communities and has continuously pushed the envelope on innovation and energy efficiency,” said Jessica Waggoner of PG&E’s Government Partnerships program. “Thanks to our strong partnership, PG&E has served local government, non-profit, and small and medium business and residential customers and continues to be an advocate for saving energy on a community scale.

MaryLiz Paulson, vice president of member services for the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, said the awards committee reviewed all the applications for Partnership Innovation and chose to acknowledge Mendocino County Energy Watch because it was innovative, in line with the goals and mission of housing authorities, and replicable.

“This program brought in savings at a time of increasing cuts to federal funds, and so was of great interest,” said Paulson. “For this reason, the committee requested adding a special Honorable Mention award to specifically recognize Mendocino County Energy Watch.  We are pleased and proud to present this award to the Community Development Commission of Mendocino County.”

CDCMC was also invited to present on their Responsible Energy Awareness Practices (REAP) program during the conference. REAP is an innovative program that outlines practices public housing authorities and local government agencies can take to save energy and become more sustainable. The program was funded by an Innovator Pilot grant from PG&E.

Schlatter said CDCMC is the only California public housing authority he knows of that has an Energy Watch program, adding that he hopes the recognition they receive through the award will spur interest from other public housing authorities to partner with PG&E and their local jurisdictions to create similar initiatives.

“Public housing authorities are in a great position to create these types of programs because they have connections with federal, state, and local authorities,” said Schlatter. “Taking that first step is sometimes the most difficult part, but I encourage public housing authorities to reach out to PG&E and to their local jurisdictions to try to start something like this in their own communities. We are tiny little agency and we were able to do it. I’m sure many others can do so as well.”