Improving Energy Equity in Inland Southern California - CivicWell

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Improving Energy Equity in Inland Southern California

By Benjamin Druyon, Program Manager at the Western Riverside Council of Governments

Climate Change & Energy


June 2, 2023


In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, our culture is distinctly different, and our climate is uniquely challenging. Collectively known as the Inland Empire, our geographic location, population, and distance from major metropolitan areas can result in inconsistent and insufficient public services in our region. 

Not only do we live in one of the most remote regions in California, but every summer we experience extreme heat and intensely dry conditions. As a result, air conditioning is a must in most buildings, resulting in high energy use and costs. Combined, these climatic and economic conditions can be particularly challenging for disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities with vulnerable residents, including children, the elderly, and lower-income families.

At the Inland Regional Energy Network, or I-REN, our vision is to ensure that people, businesses, and local governments have equitable access to a wide range of statewide resources that can truly improve the quality of life in our communities.

If that goal sounds important, it is. It’s what drives us to create local jobs, support government investments in energy efficiency, and connect people to energy cost savings. And, together, we’re helping California meet its own goals for a cleaner and greener future.

Who is the Inland Regional Energy Network?

I-REN is a coalition of three councils of governments: the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG), the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), and the San Bernardino Council of Governments (SBCOG). Together, I-REN represents 2 counties, 52 cities, 78 unincorporated county areas, 17 tribes, and 11% of California’s population.

We are people focused, providing opportunities for communities to shape the way they use energy in the future. We are fiscally responsible, delivering both energy efficiency and financial savings. We’re also action oriented, participating in California’s Clean Energy initiatives and building a stronger clean energy economy.

And even though I-REN is new, we’ve been working on energy efficiency services locally for more than a decade, with the skills, knowledge, and networks to identify and address our unique challenges and opportunities head on. 

Our programs are powerful

I-REN helps design and implement new public sector programs that empower local governments, special districts, and tribal communities to proactively manage and save energy. We also support workforce education and training in our region and assist the building industry with energy code compliance.

Our Public Sector Program takes a comprehensive approach to helping local, tribal, and State agencies complete energy efficiency projects to reduce energy use. From designing performance specifications to project completion, we offer a suite of services to help identify energy-saving opportunities and work alongside agency staff—at no additional cost. 

Our Workforce Education & Training Program provides courses, tools, and opportunities for diverse participants in disadvantaged communities to pursue careers and contract opportunities in energy efficiency. I-REN deploys up to 27 fellows every year to support local government energy efficiency initiatives.

Our Codes & Standards Program works closely with local building departments and the construction industry to support, train, and enable long-term streamlining of energy code compliance. I-REN implements a dynamic and targeted set of programs to assist local government agencies in better understanding and enforcing energy building codes.

We serve Riverside and San Bernardino

I-REN partners with local government and tribal leaders, enabling them to create an energy-efficient future for their own communities. We share our expertise and skillsets with businesses, builders, and contractors—as well as provide well-paying jobs and support to the local economy.

We also serve the disadvantaged, low-income, and other vulnerable communities by improving the energy efficiency in buildings such as community centers, libraries, senior centers, schools, and fire and police stations—which act as cooling centers and protection from the region’s extreme heat.

Want more information?

To learn more about I-REN’s programs and services and how you can participate, visit or email