Background on Renewable Energy
Consumer Education Program

The $5.4 million Consumer Education Program for renewable energy was funded through the Customer-Side Account of the California Energy Commission's Renewable Resources Trust Fund. The objective of this program is to help build a viable customer-driven market for renewable power through consumer education. Funding for the program is collected from ratepayers of the state's three major investor-owned utilities (PG&E, SCE and SDG&E) under authority from Assembly Bill 1890 and Senate Bill 90.

Consumer education can take many forms, including consumer outreach (brochures and other materials distributed through local forums); public relations activities (news releases); mass media (television, radio or billboard messages); education of children or adults through school programs, or consumer information resources (a 1-800 number or website).

Early Activties

Proposed Workplan for the Consumer Education Subaccount, Renewables Program Committee Draft Report, November 24, 1997, (PDF file, 10 pages, 25 kilobytes)

Activities in 1999

On February 17, 1999, the Energy Commission approved the Renewable Energy Consumer Education (RECE) Marketing Plan and recommended an initial disbursement of up to $1.5 million for the first 15 months.

On March 17, 1999, the Energy Commission approved a $1.2 million contract with the Renewable Energy Marketing Board (REMB) to administer a portion of the marketing plan as it relates to the renewable or "green" energy market.

Activities in 2000

The Guidebook for the Renewable Energy Program, Volume 5 - Consumer Education Subaccount, (publication # 500-97-011V5, PDF file, 16 pages, 100 kb) was adopted by the Commission on February 9, 2000, and updated to a Second Edition in July. This guidebook addresses eligibility, program requirements, and funding processes for the Consumer Education Subaccount of the Customer-Side Renewable Resources Purchases Account. It builds upon the Commission-approved RECE Marketing Plan and reflects input received from staff and stakeholders over a two-year period.

A Program Opportunity Notice was approved April 11, 2000, for $375,000 in grant funding for consumer education activities for the emerging renewable energy market. Successful applications for funding were approved by the Commission at its August 23, 2000, Business Meeting. Seven applicants were selected to receive funding and are listed on a table showing the projects, amounts awarded and their current status.

In August 2000, a staff workshop was held to provide interested stakeholders the opportunity to review and comment on the Consumer Education Subaccount program activities. The REMB presented a summary and evaluation of their work and recommendations for the remaining Consumer Education funds.

The Energy Commission conducted market research to better understand the emerging renewable technology market. A report summarizing this research, Consumer Education Marketing Analysis (publication # 500-00-020) is available to download as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. This report was presented at the August 2000 staff workshop. A more detailed report, Market Research for Emerging Renewable Technologies (Publication # 500-00-025), is also available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF File. It presents the incremental emerging technologies market research findings for California's residential and commercial sectors.

The projects are listed on a table showing the projects, amounts awarded and their current status.

Activities in 2001

In January 2001, staff released another Program Opportunity Notice for $620,000 in grant funding to promote and disseminate information on renewable electricity. The notice was amended in February to include the emerging renewables technologies program because of changes in the energy market and the passage of legislation (Assembly Bill 1) to reflect information needs and opportunities for the consumer market in California.

In February 2001, staff released Request For Proposals # 500-00-507 soliciting expertise in developing and implementing a Renewable Energy Public Awareness campaign in California. Up to $2.5 million in funding was available for the contract resulting from this RFP. In June 2001, the Commission approved a $2.1 million contract # 500-00-041 with ICF Consulting to:

  • Develop and present an approach for identifying California consumers most likely to choose renewable energy
  • Develop public awareness advertising messages and strategies to reach those consumers
  • Implement such a campaign while coordinating activities among various public and private sectors

The contractor will also design and implement methods to measure campaign effectiveness.

In June 2001, the Commission approved five applications to the Consumer Education Program Opportunity Notice.

The projects are listed on a table showing the projects, amounts awarded and their current status.

Activities in 2002

On July 5, 2002, grant applications were received in response to the Program Opportunity Notice released on May 7. $500,000 was made available through the Consumer Education Subaccount of the Renewable Resource Trust Fund to fund eligible projects that promote and disseminate information on renewable electricity and renewable technologies.

The Commission approved eight applications at the August 28, 2002 Business Meeting. The project categories are as follows: School outreach (2), New Construction outreach (2), Public Entity or Non-Profit outreach (1), Advertising (1), and Events (2).

The projects are listed on a table showing the projects brief description, amounts awarded and their status.

Activities in 2004

An updated Guidebook was released Consumer Education Program, publication # 500-04-003F. On line: June 9, 2004, (PDF file, 14 pgs, 297 kb). No subsequent editions have been produced.


For assistance regarding the Renewable Energy Program areas, please contact:

Renewable Energy Call Center
Toll Free - 1-844-454-2906
Outside California - 916-653-0237