Energy efficiency, cost effectiveness can go together

Capturing energy from the air in the Tehachapi Pass, California. (Photo: Patrick Poendl)

When my partners and I started ReGreen in 2008, we wanted to prove that renewable energy and energy efficiency could be cost-effective for businesses. Over the years, we’ve demonstrated significant savings to our clients and created over 100 competitive wage jobs in Los Angeles County. All of this is possible because of California’s commitment to fighting climate change, beginning with the passage of AB 32, the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, ten years ago.

Revenues from cap and trade are instrumental in helping communities that suffer disproportionately from impacts of climate change and air pollution.

ReGreen specializes in lighting, solar, and intelligent building controls, and we take pride in consistently finding the balance between maximum energy savings, design, and return on investment. Programs established through AB 32 have helped us implement several key projects, and have given a leg up to advanced energy companies across the state. Benefits from these programs extend to sustainable buildings, advanced energy businesses, clean energy schools and sustainable transportation, and reflect the growing importance of clean energy investments to California’s economy — despite years of effort by oil industry lobbyists to dismantle the groundbreaking climate law and block passage of legislation to strengthen it.

The programs established by AB 32 10 years ago continue to directly impact people’s lives, especially those that have historically been left out of California’s economic prosperity and environmental health. Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to spend $900 million in revenue from the state’s pioneering cap-and-trade program to help clean up the state’s air, particularly in communities with the most pollution and least economic opportunity. Proceeds from the program’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund provide funding for numerous environmental programs, including clean-vehicle subsidies, urban parks and trees, home weatherization and transit programs, among other efforts to reduce emissions and create well-paying jobs in a clean energy economy.

Revenues from cap and trade are instrumental in helping communities that suffer disproportionately from impacts of climate change and air pollution, and who experience the greatest benefits from the state’s continued clean air investments. The program is also imperative to advancing the goal of an advanced energy economy, one in which businesses can do what they do best, reduce carbon emissions at the least cost, and transform our energy system to one that’s efficient, innovative, affordable, and diverse.

The state’s climate investments are clearly working; in 2015, employment in clean energy grew 18% across the state — six times the overall rate of employment growth. More than 500,000 employees across California now work in advanced energy fields such as energy efficiency, electricity generation, biofuels, and grid technology. With the passage of Senate Bill 32 last month to extend our climate goals, the state will continue to build on its successful legacy to drive local economies, create jobs, grow efficiency savings for businesses, and level the playing field for renewable energy to compete fairly with polluting sources of energy.

When I founded ReGreen, I had a vision to revolutionize access to sustainable energy solutions and do my part in ridding our communities of pollution. Thanks to AB 32, California has the policy environment that encourages businesses like mine to thrive, and communities to prosper. The gains over the last ten years show that the law has delivered on its promise, and prove that our flourishing, low-carbon economy is good for all Californians.

Ed’s Note: Kevin Refoua is co-founder and chief executive officer at ReGreen Corp.

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