Building Healthier and More Energy-Efficient Communities in Fresno and the Central Valley: Developing a Holistic Community Action Plan to Improve Access to Clean Energy Technologies
January 22, 2024
Energy Research and Development (500)
Electric Program Investment Charge - EPIC
Max Wei, Patricia Kusumah, Kaiyu Sun, Lino Sanchez, Henry Willem, Sang Hoon Lee, Miguel Heleno, Tianzhen Hong
Residents in Fresno suffer from poor air quality, increasing heat, some of the highest utility bills in California, and low ownership of clean energy technologies. This work developed an action plan for Fresno that supports California’s goal of enhancing climate equity by improving access to clean energy technologies and improving public health outcomes.
The project approach combined community outreach, policy analysis, and technical modeling. Outreach methods included stakeholder interviews and phone surveys. Technical modeling included integrated modeling of residential buildings and vehicles and modeling the benefits of adding solar photovoltaic and battery storage to a community center. The project found that 70 percent of residents are not comfortable in their homes in hot weather and revealed a lack of awareness of existing clean energy incentives. Used electric vehicles are within resident budgets with existing high clean car rebates. Integrated electrification packages (heat pump heating and cooling and heat pump water heating, used electric vehicles, and solar photovoltaic) can achieve a reasonable payback time of 15 to 20 years in many single-family homes. With the Self-Generation Incentive Program Equity Rebate, resilience hub modeling gives favorable economic results for up to 24 hours of planned outages. The research team estimated about $70 million in public health benefits from transitioning all passenger vehicles in Fresno County to zero-emission vehicles and found that low-cost do-it-yourself air filters are an opportunity for greater deployment. Finally, the project generated a substantive action plan for greater climate equity for disadvantaged communities in Fresno.
Effective interventions and policy development are urgently needed to ensure resident safety at home from extreme heat. Adding used electric vehicles and rooftop photovoltaic to building electrification measures can reduce overall household energy costs, but more aggressive financing programs are needed to cover high initial costs. Awareness and transactional barriers can be mitigated with more “one-stop shop” incentive programs. More integrated demonstration projects are needed for “learning-by-doing” and data collection and to scale up equitable decarbonization.