Flex Your Power

Flex Your Power

When California faced energy shortages and rolling blackouts, we coordinated a statewide on-demand energy conservation campaign to help keep the lights on.

A statewide energy crisis needed results, and it needed them fast

In late 2000, California’s electricity supply system was facing serious shortages. At the time, analysts predicted that California’s peak demand for the summer of 2001 could be short by as much as 5,000 megawatts (MW), and Californians could expect 34 days of blackouts. Analysts estimated that the financial cost of these power interruptions to California could reach $16 billion.

Collaboration and cooperation across all sectors was the key to success

Our firm devised the Flex Your Power campaign, which included 13 initiatives designed to recruit every Californian to participate in the conservation effort and immediately reduce energy demand and build the foundation for long-term energy efficiency. The initiatives targeted the commercial and industrial sectors, government, agriculture and residential. Our firm planned and executed a strategy that included:

  • Creating an integrated mix of TV, radio, print and outdoor advertisements targeted toward different demographic and ethnic groups throughout the state.

  • Building a network of thousands of businesses, nonprofits and local governments to immediately conserve energy when peak demand was high, and to make conservation a way of life for the long-term.

  • Implementing the Home Improvement and Appliance Awareness Initiative promotions - a statewide partnership program between Flex your Power, manufacturers and more than 1,200 retailers of energy-efficient appliances, lighting and other products.

  • Placing field staff in five regions (Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego), and tasking them to recruit partners in the commercial, institutional, local government, water, agricultural and residential sectors to undertake energy conservation commitments.

  • Teaming up with both public and private water agencies to maximize conservation of water and energy statewide, in order to promote a new conservation message that saving water also saves energy.

The campaign was a resounding success, and laid the groundwork for long-term energy conservation

The campaign accomplished its goal of getting California through the summer of 2001 without a single blackout, saving more than 14 percent, or 5,000 MW at peak. The firm then embarked on the more difficult task, and in the long view, the most important component of the outreach effort: locking in conservation behavior and focusing on energy efficiency. By most accounts, Flex Your Power was the most successful energy conservation campaign in history, and it won the coveted ENERGY STAR Award for Excellence. As a result of the huge success of the 2000-2001 Flex Your Power Campaign, it continued on for another decade, making a difference in the lives and behaviors of Californians as well as impacting the bottom line for commercial, industrial, government and agricultural sectors.


Learn more about our past projects...

Earth Day 1990

The 20th Anniversary of the world's largest environmental gathering

Flex Alert

California's Emergency Energy Conservation Campaign

The Global Cities Project

Sustainable Policies and Programs for Local Government

Smart Investing in California Communities

Bridging the gap between "two Californias"

Smart Growth Summit

Building the California Dream

The Presidio Conference

President's Council on Sustainable Development

California 2000 Civic Engagement Campaign

Building a Better California

California Urban Water Conservation Council

Best Management Practices and the CALFED Bay-Delta Program

CALSTART Electric Vehicle Awareness Campaign

Framing the conversation around electric vehicle infrastructure in California