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City kicks off new energy program, targeting downtown businesses

on February 3, 2011

Oakland launched a new energy efficiency program called Oakland Shines Wednesday, with the goal of reducing energy costs for business owners in the downtown area.

“The goal is to get 80 percent of the 4,000 businesses to participate, and to reduce their energy consumption by 20 percent, ” said Derrick Rebello, the CEO of Quantum Energy Services and Technology, at the program’s kick-off event. Berkeley-based QuEST and PG&E are the city’s main partners in Oakland Shines, which is funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission.

The program offers free technical assistance and cash rebates up to 90 percent of total costs for businesses to install energy saving equipment, such as LED lights or HVAC system upgrades. The service will cover every step from energy audits to contractor arrangement and project management. “All you have to do is tell us about your energy use and we’ll take care of it from there,” Rebello said.

Money from the program is available to businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. Although businesses outside downtown are eligible, priority will be given to those located in the heart of the city—large or small, landlords or tenants.

Oakland has done well in green-city rankings published in the last few years by various environmental groups. Oakland Shines could push it higher, and will help the city meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to roughly two-thirds of 2005 levels by 2020.

“It’s one of the most aggressive goals in this country,” said Susan Kattchee, the manager of Oakland’s Environmental Services Division. “A program like this allows us to begin and move forward.”

Steve Malnight the vice president of Integrated Demand-Side Management at PG&E, said Oakland has a fantastic record of saving energy. Over the last four years, he said, residents and businesses have saved more than 180 million kilowatt-hours and 900,000 therms of gas through PG&E’s energy efficiency program.

The Community Energy Services Corporation is another partner of Oakland Shines. CESC Director Martin Bond said his group will be the “boots on the ground” for contacting businesses and offering free energy assessments.

And while Bond said he was excited to visit all kinds of businesses, he particularly noted the culinary benefits that come with the job. “We prefer to work especially with restaurant owners,” Bond joked.

For more information about the program, call (877) 304-6133.

Image: Derrick Rebello, the CEO of QuEST speaks at the kick-off event on Wednesday. 

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