Electrifying the San Joaquin Valley
Electrifying the San Joaquin Valley
With each passing day, month and year, the impacts of extreme weather become more pronounced, and the need to reach carbon neutrality becomes ever more urgent. Electrifying our homes and vehicles is a critical part of getting there. Southern California Edison is helping to overcome a significant challenge in that effort: freeing residential customers in rural San Joaquin Valley communities from carbon-emitting energy sources such as propane and wood.
“All regions or communities should have access to clean, reliable and affordable energy in a safe manner,” said Michelle Thomas, SCE’s Building Electrification principal manager. “Every Californian deserves a clean energy future, and every community can help achieve California’s clean energy goals. However, some communities may need more assistance than others.”
SCE’s San Joaquin Valley Affordable Energy Pilot provides energy-efficient electric appliances, minor home repairs and electrical upgrades (main panel, circuit runs, etc.) to customers in three rural communities in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The region is vulnerable to the harshest effects of climate change, yet it has the least access to clean energy resources.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) granted SCE $14.5 million in 2018 to convert approximately 450 customers in West Goshen, Ducor and California City to all-electric homes. SCE is completing the project with support from business partners Proteus Inc. and Synergy Companies, which aim to help San Joaquin Valley communities adopt clean energy technologies.
“We were hearing that the CPUC was looking into bringing electrification to customers in our area, to the local communities we serve, and we were very excited,” said Jose Landeros, director of Energy Programs with Proteus, a nonprofit focused on providing training and educational services to low-income residents. “We would hear from customers about how expensive it was to purchase propane for their home. We heard anywhere from $400 to $700 monthly just in propane to heat and cook.”
Despite delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, progress has been steady; a combined 101 installations have been completed, replacing propane-powered appliances with heat pump water heaters, heat pump air conditioning units, induction stoves and electric dryers. The results so far have been life-changing.
“There’s been great feedback on the HVAC units when customers previously relied on evaporative coolers,” said Lyal Ray, quality production manager with Synergy Companies, which installs energy and water equipment and infrastructure. “When we have qualified customers for mini split air conditioning, they have been blown away by the technology that allows you to heat or cool individual rooms instead of the entire house.”
The appliances are not only energy efficient, offering customers cost savings on their monthly bill, but they’re healthier and safer. Removing wood-burning and propane-powered appliances can make an immediate difference to customers with respiratory issues, especially in the San Joaquin Valley, where poor air quality is a leading health issue. For many customers, the electric upgrades mean an improved quality of life.
“From an operational and product point of view, customers are happy, satisfied, and enjoy the improvements,” said Jose Gonzales, Energy Division program manager with Proteus. “The more we can share with the communities how their services will improve with electrification, the better.”
The pilot will continue to electrify eligible homes in the San Joaquin Valley until all participating customers’ installations are completed. Each upgraded home represents a significant step forward in the state’s journey toward electrification.
To learn more about SCE's commitment to a clean energy future, visit Edison.com/Clean-Energy.