Sunny beaches, beautiful homes, surfing — whatever images the city of Newport Beach conjures, it’s time to add “energy efficiency leader” to that list.

Since 2011, Newport Beach has partnered with Southern California Edison (SCE) on various projects to help enhance the city’s environmental sustainability and reduce their use of energy. In just three years the city has achieved SCE’s Energy Leader Partnership Gold Award, the second highest of the four levels in the program: Valued Partner, Silver Level, Gold Level and Platinum Level.

“The water pump project bumped us up to the Gold award,” said Iris Lee, senior civil engineer for the city of Newport Beach. “Changing solid state starters to variable frequency drives allowed the system to alter the amount of energy we need to use depending on demand.”

The water pump project, which retrofitted infrastructure responsible for delivering between 60 and 70 percent of the city’s water supply, resulted in savings of over 1.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and is just one of the energy efficiency initiatives Newport Beach has undertaken. Between 2011 and 2013, the city was able to achieve more than 2,156,828 kWh savings, enough to power 306 homes for one year.

In 2013 alone, Newport Beach earned more than $152,500 in rebate incentives for their energy-efficient measures, in addition to a $16,147 reduction in the city’s electricity expenses each year. According to Lee, the rebate will go back into the city funds to supplement the overall project.

“Newport Beach really hit the ground running,” said Jenelle Godges, SCE region manager for Local Public Affairs. “They’ve been able to excel and reach Gold status in a very short amount of time.”

Newport Beach joins Huntington Beach, Westminster, Fountain Valley, and Costa Mesa in the Orange County branch of the Energy Leader Partnership, which meets monthly with an SCE project manager.

“The purpose of the partnerships is to allow cities to pave the way and not just talk the talk, but to walk the walk toward becoming energy efficient,” said Godges. “Cities are able to collaborate and share ideas.”

In addition to going for Platinum, the highest level in SCE’s Energy Leader Partnership, Lee said there are more concrete projects for Newport Beach on the horizon.

“We have more money budgeted in the next fiscal year for additional streetlight conversions,” she said. “We have a number of major building retrofits coming up, and we are going to ensure they are energy efficient as well.”

Cities interested in becoming partners with SCE can visit: on.sce.com/1iflHpL.