Five Tulare County low-income towns will get state funds to install gas and or electric lines and appliances.
Approved this month by the California Public Utilities Commission, the program will fund a pilot effort to replace propane and wood-burning appliances with either natural gas — including line extensions — or all electric appliances for 11 disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley.
Five of the communities are in Tulare County including Allensworth, Alpaugh, Seville, Ducor and West Goshen.
The average household annual income across the 11 communities is $31,214 per year, with the lowest being $20,700 per year in West Goshen.
Many of the dwellings in these towns — 70 percent of them — lack access to natural gas and are single family homes. About 100 mobile homes and 100 multi-family units also lack access to natural gas.
More than half of the homes are owner-occupied.
Roughly 900 homes in Alpaugh, Fairmead, Lanare, La Vina, Le Grand will be eligible for an electrification project with community solar discount components by a to-be-selected third-party project administrator with a $25.7 million investment.
More than 300 homes in Allensworth, Cantua Creek, and Seville will be eligible for an electrification project with community solar discount components to be administered by Pacific Gas an Electric Company with a $9.6 million investment.
Nearly 450 homes in California City, Ducor, and West Goshen will be eligible for an electrification project with community solar discount components to be administered by Southern California Edison with a $15,411,008 investment.
Altogether, the Commission approved more than $50 million for Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and third parties to launch clean energy electrification pilots in 11 communities.
These pilot programs will save families roughly $1,500 per year by improving household energy efficiency and replacing fossil fuel-powered appliances, like propane furnaces and water heaters, with advanced electric appliances.
The clean energy electrification pilots approved this month will improve indoor air quality, lower energy bills, and enhance comfort and climate resiliency with no cost to the residents.
Unlike gas and propane appliances that produce harmful indoor air pollution, electric appliances can operate efficiently without polluting homes.
Residents who opt for a controllable heat pump water heater could see even higher savings by heating water during off-peak periods when electricity is lower cost. The electrification pilots are also cost-effective when compared with gas, allowing more homes to be served with a lower overall program budget.
For example, efficiency upgrades and electrification are estimated to cost $17,000- $35,000 per house, whereas outfitting homes with gas will cost on average $49,000 per home.
Advanced electric appliances like heat pumps allow residents to efficiently heat and cool their homes.
This will improve health and comfort, and help residents weather the temperature swings that will worsen with a changing climate.
The investment total will be more than $56 million.
PG&E and Southern California Edison will help administer the projects designed to connect them to natural gas lines and provide them with energy-efficient appliances.
The program is expected to save families, about 1,600 low-income households, about $1,500 per year each.
Supporters say that these low-income communities suffer some of the worst pollutions in the state and should participate in the statewide move toward clean and affordable energy.
Tulare County towns to get energy upgrades through grants, by John Lindt, Visalia Times Delta, December 25, 2018.