SHE’s Community Energy Solutions
Posted on March 12, 2019
With our mission to build and sustain healthy homes and communities in mind, Self-Help Enterprises has recently expanded engagement in community energy solutions. While California is a national leader in electricity generation from renewable resources, many San Joaquin Valley disadvantaged communities still lack the resources needed for energy efficiency, affordability and sustainability. Through policy advocacy and community engagement, Self-Help Enterprises, in collaboration with its partners, strives to empower, educate and assist in the development of affordable energy infrastructure improvements. Our goal is to support projects and programs that will ultimately result in lower energy costs and the implementation of sustainable solutions for our most vulnerable communities.
Alternative Community Energy
Many San Joaquin Valley communities still rely on propane and wood burning to cook, make hot water and heat their homes. Over 170 communities in the region do not have access to natural gas. In 2014, SHE worked to pass a law that requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to identify disadvantaged communities that lack affordable energy access and analyze the economic feasibly of affordable energy alternatives. This December, the CPUC approved 11 affordable energy pilot projects in disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The projects will increase access to affordable and renewable energy for more than 1,600 households in the communities of Allensworth, Alpaugh, California City, Cantua Creek, Ducor, Fairmead, Lanare, Le Grand, La Vina, Seville and West Goshen. The projects for these communities will bring in about $56 million in investment and infrastructure spending, and as a result, Valley residents will no longer need to rely on expensive propane and wood burning to stay warm, to cook and to have hot water. This investment will also give families new cutting-edge and energy efficient appliances which can save residents up to $150 per month on their energy bills and nearly $2,000 per year for some households.
Consistent with the push for increased energy efficiency and sustainability, our newer multi-family housing projects incorporate greywater reuse and solar and weatherization features.
Greywater reuse is an answer to the problem of water scarcity –an issue prevalent in the Valley after years of severe drought. At Palm Terrace, a new rental community in Lindsay, SHE replaced the typical fenced storm pond with double the turf area next to the playground and installed a greywater reuse system. Runoff from the parking lot and water from residential use is captured and used on-site to irrigate the turf and plants. This eliminates the need for landscape irrigation and reduces storm water runoff.
Solar and Weatherization
SHE used the Low-Income Weatherization Program for Multifamily Properties (LIWP) to improve five of its multifamily affordable rental properties in 2018. All five properties have energy efficiency and solar PV improvements for resident homes and common areas like hallways and community rooms. LIWP is funded through California’s Cap and Trade program, supporting owners and residents to lower utility costs, save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in large multifamily properties.