3C-REN (Tri-County Regional Energy Network) is a partnership between the Counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura established to deliver energy-saving programs that help reduce energy use, strengthen local job markets, and support efforts to achieve climate goals. As part of its mission, 3C-REN works to make it easier for hard-to-reach customers to improve their home performance.
One of the biggest challenges of energy upgrades for underserved communities is the up-front cost of projects. To address this problem, Recurve and 3C-REN worked together to design a FLEXmarket incentive structure that reduces or even eliminates upfront project costs for qualifying customers.
By adopting a performance-based approach with results measured at the meter, FLEXmarkets reward providers and provider aggregators for delivering superior, cost-effective solutions. By paying contractors for the grid value associated with the actual delivered energy savings, FLEXmarket rewards quality work.
FLEXmarkets are easily customized to the specific needs and mission of a program. In 3C-REN's case, a low-income incentive multiplier drives providers to serve hard-to-reach customers. Another incentive multiplier is in place that pays higher incentives for therm savings in order to spur electrification projects. Additionally, 50 percent of the forecasted incentive totals are paid upfront, making energy upgrades more affordable for participating customers. By design, FLEXmarket incentives can often be layered with other program incentives, such as TECH, further driving down customer prices.
“The FLEXmarket has allowed 3C-REN to design incentives in a way that really line up with our programmatic goals. For instance, it’s been great to see that by adapting the FLEXmarket to electrification goals we’ve seen a lot of heat pumps come through the program with significant energy savings.”
-April Price 3C-REN Program Manager.
This strategic stacking of their equity and market transformation goals on top of the grid value of electrification accelerates the adoption of efficient solutions among people who might otherwise not be able to afford a home performance upgrade.
If You Build it, Innovation Will Come
Because of its unique incentive structure, 3C-REN's FLEXmarket is also attracting the attention of innovative national aggregators — entities that take on the risk and accountability of home energy projects while also making it easier for contractors and homeowners to participate in energy efficiency programs.
Sealed, a 3C-REN aggregator, is a climate tech company on a mission to stop home energy waste and electrify all homes. Sealed is known for its innovative energy savings prediction technology that allows the company to offer performance guarantees on home energy upgrade projects.
In their participation in the 3C-REN FLEXmarket, Sealed works with local contractors to forecast energy savings and predict incentive levels. Sealed then provides incentives upfront to contractors and homeowners, taking on the performance risk of projects actually achieving the predicted energy savings.
“Sealed significantly enhanced our efficiency in processing rebates for our valued customers. Sealed demonstrated a profound understanding of our business needs and consistently delivered solutions that not only met but exceeded our expectations. The administrative support they offer is nothing short of exceptional. Their attention to detail and accuracy in handling rebate-related tasks have streamlined our processes, ensuring that our customers receive their rebates promptly and without any hassle.”
With Sealed now serving as an aggregator, contractors have the option to get paid faster, minimize their paperwork, and pass upfront savings onto their customers immediately. As a result, 60% of the contractors participating in 3C-REN through Sealed are entirely new to the program, meaning the value propositions Sealed is offering to contractors is helping them participate in a program they otherwise would not have.
"Having a performance-based incentive structure provides enormous benefits to contractors and households. We know how to work with contractors to deliver real, measured energy savings while also allowing them to focus on what counts — growing their businesses. We are excited to expand our aggregator services and bring new contractors into energy efficiency programs to bring energy savings to households across the country."
-Ryan Bevans, SVP Operations, Sealed.
FLEXmarket's approach aligns with the Inflation Reduction Act's HOMES measured path, a $4.3B nationwide policy encouraging performance-based implementation of efficiency. This means the 3C-REN and other FLEXmarkets can serve as models for other regions.
To learn more about how your state can deploy measured performance for low-income and hard-to-reach communities, get in touch.