Vallejo Boys & Girls Club saving money, energy through PG&E program

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Vallejo Times-Herald

POSTED: 07/02/15, 4:42 PM PDT | UPDATED: ON 07/02/2015

Vallejo’s Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club’s officials expect its electric bill to drop precipitously come next month — all because of a chance meeting and a power company program.


Club executive director Rey Amador said he was seated near a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. official at a political function last month, and that’s what produced the spark, so-to-speak, that set the episode in motion.


“I encountered a gentleman from PG&E, Mark Van Gorder, at the Congressman’s event in St. Helena last month,” Amador said. “Our energy efficiency at the club isn’t the greatest, so I began to inquire about any programs out there that may be able to assist us. After contacting Mark a couple days later, he immediately got in touch with a group from Solano Energy Watch, and they were out at the club that following day.”


Solano Energy Watch is a collaboration between Solano County, the Solano Economic Development Corporation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, according to the county’s website.


“We provide no-cost energy efficiency information and services to small and medium sized businesses of Solano County who are PG&E customers,” it says.


Not only was the existence of the energy-saving program a surprise, so was its quick delivery, Amador said. “We were sitting at the table with he and his wife, and I just asked him what could be done, and he got back with me, and I was just blown away at how quickly he moved on my request,” he said.


After taking a look around and “crunching some numbers,” the energy watch people returned with a proposal.


“A week later, Chris Steele from Steele Electric upgraded and replaced 77 lights in our building,” he said. “Typically, the customer would have to pay up front, and then be reimbursed by the program. But, Mr. Steele waived our obligation and completed the work as he waits for direct reimbursement. This is awesome!”


The project cost about $3,300 and is expected to save the club more than $4,500 per year — a coup for a man whose main job is to find ways to cut costs without impairing programs, Amador said.


“We haven’t gotten our new bill yet to see what its done, but the projected savings are astronomical,” he said. “The bill has been about $25 per day or about $500 per month, conservatively.”


Amador calls the expected savings “Quite significant.”


“That’s fully half,” he said. “The savings go back into the club to fund programs, supplies, any other fixes and enhancements; polishing up our product as much as possible, with the ultimate goal to attract and serve more kids, of course.”


While the new lights are helping, more work is needed to help the club cut down on its energy consumption and the resulting bill, Amador said.


“The gym is our big energy sucker, and once we get those lights done, and we’re working on that, on converting them to LEDs, we’ll really realize some savings,” he said.


Steele, owner of Steele Electric of Vallejo, is working on a proposal for that job, too, Amador said.


“He thinks it will be much less than the $1,300 per light — and we have eight of them in there — so that would have been more than $10,000,” Amador said. “He’s thinking $3,000 or $4,000 for the whole gym. So, we hope we’ll be able to take care of that sooner than later.”


Call Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at 707-553-6824

Save Energy, Save Money, Save the Environment with Solano Energy Watch in California


St. Basil Parish, located at 1225 Tuolumne Street, recently took advantage of the Solano Energy Watch (SEW) program rebates on energy efficiency after replacing and retrofitting over 250 light fixtures and converting to LED lighting instead, and other energy efficient technologies. It is expected that the school will save thousands of dollars in annual recurring energy costs due to the upgrade. Through the rebate program, SEW has provided over $12,000 in rebates to the parish.


Joe Martinez, Maintenance Supervisor at St. Basil says, "We are very happy with the products and results. We look forward to our part to save energy and dollars. The light it provides enhance the beauty of our Parish. I would highly recommend [SEW] to our neighboring parishes."


Partnering with Solano County, PG&E, and Solano Economic Development Corporation, SEW gives businesses, non-profits, and local governments throughout cities and Solano County the opportunity to receive a no-cost energy audit and report. This includes evaluations on how and where energy is being used, energy efficiency solutions, and the latest PG&E rebates and incentives in order to reduce the cost of upgrading to newer, more efficient technologies.


J. Paul Harrington with Solano EDC says, "We process the paperwork and help find the right contractor for the job. In some cases, the rebates can cover up to 100% of the project cost, and the final result is reduced lighting and refrigeration costs for the business."


Harrington adds that in 2014 alone, the program saved Solano County small businesses over 2 million kilowatt hours, reducing annual energy costs for participants by more than $200,000. To schedule a no cost, no obligation energy evaluation, call the 24 hour hotline at 707-639-1044.


If you would like more information about this topic visit the website here or contact J. Paul Harrington at 707-864-1855 or email at

Utility Bill Relief for Local Businesses
Solano County small businesses enjoy lower energy bills through energy watch participation

By Susan Hiland

FAIRFIELD — More than 100 small businesses participated in Solano Energy Watch last year and are now enjoying reduced energy bills and updated lighting and refrigeration. J.Paul Harrington, Solano Economic Development Corporation representative, said Solano Energy Watch reduced recurring, annual, energy costs for participants by more than $200,000 in 2014.


Harrington said Solano Energy Watch is a new program for the Solano Economic Development Corporation. The program gives businesses the opportunity to receive a no cost energy audit, and savings program that can result in reduced lighting and refrigeration bills.


“It’s an easy process which begins with a comprehensive No Cost energy evaluation.” Harrington said. “We process the rebates and help find the right contractor for the job. In some cases, the rebates can cover up to 100 percent of the project cost. In 2014 alone, we have saved the businesses of Solano County over 2 million kilowatt-hours.”


Solano Economic Development Corporation president, Sandy Person said, “We see this program as part of our efforts to increase the economic vitality of the businesses of Solano County by helping businesses save energy and add to their bottom line.”


The Solano Economic Development Corporation is a nonprofit public private partnership delivering professional economic development services and working with collaborative relationships on a local, regional and state level to ensure Solano is recognized as a strategic location for industry growth and retention.


Harrington said the mission of Solano Energy Watch is simple: “We want to help reduce your energy use and save you money.”

To schedule a no cost, no obligation energy evaluation, call the 24 hour hotline 707-639-1044.


Do you have some business news to share? Send it to Susan Hiland at Be sure to include Biz Buzz in the subject line.

Susan Hiland

Susan graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon with a B.A. in Communications. She has eight years experience working for newspapers in Nebraska.

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Solano Energy Watch is funded by California utility customers and administered by Pacific Gas and Electric Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission.