FRESNO – Speaking at a rooftop solar panel installation on a low-income home, state and local officials today highlighted the impacts of new state funding for local projects that combat climate change while delivering a wide range of additional benefits from clean air to lower energy bills.
The installation in Fresno’s Roosevelt neighborhood is one of the first funded with proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade program, which this year targets $832 million for energy efficiency, public transit, affordable housing and other greenhouse gas-cutting programs statewide. At least 25 percent of those funds must be invested to benefit California’s most disadvantaged communities.
Administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD), the Low Income Weatherization Program (LIWP) was funded with $75 million in cap-and-trade auction proceeds in the State’s 2014-15 budget to install rooftop photovoltaic solar systems, solar hot water heater systems and weatherization measures. All of the funds will be used to benefit disadvantaged communities.
Fresno resident Ricarda Mendoza said she was excited to receive the solar installation on her home today in the city’s Roosevelt neighborhood. Mendoza, 61, lives on a fixed income with her husband, 66, and her mother, 85. Mendoza can expect to save about 75 percent on their electricity costs based upon the size of the system installed and her previous 12 months electricity usage. This equates to over $1,000 annual savings for the Mendoza household.
The Mendoza home is one of an estimated 1,780 low-income households statewide that are expected to receive rooftop solar systems through the LIWP program, generating an estimated 5.5 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable power. The program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and put money back in the pockets of low-income Californians.
CSD contracted with Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission (EOC) to install rooftop solar systems in disadvantaged communities in Fresno, Los Angeles, Merced, Madera, Sacramento and Tulare counties. Fresno EOC is partnering with SunPower, a California-based company, to supply the solar systems under their contract.
In addition to solar measures, LIWP is expected to make nearly 18,000 low-income homes more energy efficient through weatherization. Weatherization is the process of improving the energy efficiency of a home by installing energy efficient measures like weather‑stripping, insulation, caulking, window repair/replacement, refrigerator replacement, water heater repair/replacement, and heating and cooling system repair/replacement.
LIWP is one of more than a dozen programs to receive funding from cap-and-trade proceeds as part of the State’s 2014-15 budget. Under Senate Bill 535 (De León), a quarter of State proceeds must go to projects that provide a benefit to disadvantaged communities, as identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency. A minimum of 10 percent of the funds must be for projects located within those communities.