California’s Low-Income Weatherization Program (LIWP) provides low-income households with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and energy efficiency upgrades at no cost to residents. LIWP is the only program of its kind in California that focuses exclusively on serving low-income households with solar PV and energy efficiency upgrades at no cost. The program reduces greenhouse gas emissions and household energy costs by saving energy and generating clean renewable power. LIWP currently operates three program components: Multi-Family, Community Solar, and Farmworker Housing.
LIWP is designed with the primary goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by saving energy and generating clean renewable energy for low-income single-family households and multi-family affordable housing. But just as importantly, the program reduces residential energy expenses for low-income households. These improvements also improve household conditions while reducing living expenses for residents – strengthening their economic security – and contribute to the health of communities through improved air quality. They also help lower operating costs for affordable housing operators, helping to preserve valuable below-market housing for low-income families.
LIWP plays an important role in ensuring that all Californians have the opportunity to benefit from the State’s Climate Investments and program services. LIWP also helps cushion the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, making it more affordable for low-income households to keep their homes cool and comfortable at a lower cost – whether through energy efficient air conditioning or improved insulation – and protect children and seniors from the health impacts of higher temperatures. And, as many low-income Californians are already struggling to make ends meet – and spending a higher proportion of their income on housing than ever before – LIWP can help by lowering utility bills and freeing up limited disposable income for other critical expenses.
The new LIWP Farmworker Housing Component focuses on the direct installation of energy efficiency measures and solar PV systems for farmworker households. The Farmworker Housing Component provides services across 12 counties with the highest farmworker populations.
View Farmworker Housing Component
This new pilot program is designed to expand access to renewable energy for low-income households that do not have the ability to participate in existing low-income solar PV programs — due to a lack of home ownership, or because of inadequate roofing for solar PV. Households participating in the Community Solar Pilot stand to benefit from reduced energy costs while communities can benefit from reduced air pollutant emissions associated with conventional energy generation. GRID Alternatives Inland Empire was selected to participate in the Pilot and is finalizing completion of a community solar project in partnership with the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians in the first half of 2021.
The LIWP Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables component began in early 2016. Properties that have participated in the LIWP Multi-Family component have seen a reduction in their energy usage by an average of 40%. The low-income residents that have participated in this program benefit from lower energy costs. The program helps preserve affordable housing by reducing property owner operating costs.
View Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables Program
LIWP is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged and low-income communities. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at: www.caclimateinvestments.ca.gov.
"The improvements are really helping because it’s saving me money," said Diana Guzman. "I’m saving up to $70 a month on my bills; I’m only paying $25 for PG&E. That makes a huge difference."
Diana Guzman is a resident of Casas de la Viña, a 56-unit affordable apartment rental community that serves low-income families and farmworkers. The mother of two boys, Diana moved to Casas de la Viña when she needed to find a new home after the death of her husband.
Casas de la Viña is one of several properties owned by Self-Help Enterprises, an organization that develops affordable housing to serve the needs of low-income Central Valley residents. One of the many ways that Self-Help Enterprises supports low-income families is by helping them save money on their electric bills through improvements made throughout their properties.
Self-Help Enterprises was able to install solar PV systems and make energy efficiency improvements at Casas de la Viña with Cap-and-Trade dollars from CSD’s LIWP. The LIWP Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables subprogram administrator, the Association for Energy Affordability, provides technical assistance and incentives for the installation of energy-efficiency measures and solar PV in low-income multi-family dwellings in disadvantaged communities. The LIWP Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables subprogram not only reduces GHG emissions, it also reduces energy costs. And, by lowering operating costs for property owners, it also helps preserve affordable housing.
Proteus, a nonprofit that provides education, job training, job placement, and other services to farm working families, installed several of the energy-saving measures on the property. Overall, the project included a deep energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofit, with the installation of more than 181 kilowatts of solar panels generating 95 percent of the development’s energy needs onsite to offset resident energy bills. The project also consisted of the installation of efficient new heat pump heating and cooling systems, heat pump water heaters, energy efficient windows, LED lighting, refrigerators and plumbing fixtures.
Diana has seen first-hand the benefits of the improvements made to Casas de la Viña. "The improvements are really helping because it’s saving me money," said Diana. "I’m saving up to $70 a month on my bills; I’m only paying $25 for PG&E. That makes a huge difference."
Thanks to Casas de la Viña’s participation in the LIWP Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables subprogram, the community expects to achieve zero net energy, with the property now generating as much energy as it consumes. Over its quantification period, the solar PV system and installed energy efficiency measures will lead to an estimated reduction of over 3,000 MTCO2e in GHG emissions.
Just as important, the residents of Casas de la Viña will now be able to use the money they save on utility bills to support their family’s other critical needs. In Diana’s case, those savings are going towards necessities like clothes and school supplies for her boys.
"I’m extremely excited and grateful to the State for providing this program," said Irma Vargas. "(It) allows us to feel safer and more comfortable in our home with services we would not be able to afford ourselves."
For years, Irma Vargas’ family of four struggled to pay the high utility bills that come with living on the north shore of the Salton Sea in Mecca while still maintaining a comfortable and healthy home for their children. The family’s limited income made the $400 per month bill nearly impossible during the summer months when temperatures can exceed 110°F in their Riverside County community.
Relief finally came when the La Cooperativa Campesina de California approved their application for energy efficiency services. La Cooperativa is a regional administrator for the CSD’s LIWP, which is funded by Cap-and-Trade dollars.
An assessment of the Vargas home uncovered the need for a number of improvements to help reduce the family’s utility bill through improved energy efficiency, ultimately increasing their disposable income.
The Vargas’ also qualified for a rooftop solar PV system and received a new high efficiency heating and air conditioning system, window replacements, LED light bulbs, power strips, and low-flow shower heads among other improvements.
Overall, Irma is very happy with the improvements, which are expected to lower the family’s utility bill by approximately 75 percent.
"New windows and weatherization is not something you think about when you're just trying to pay the energy bills and buy food, but it's an awesome service and I appreciate it so much." - Philip Lanese
Philip, a 52 year old disabled man, has resided in his mobile home for over a decade. Unable to perform routine maintenance on his home, the sealing on Philip's windows were severely damaged to the point he was unable to sit next to them. Thankfully, Philip reached out to Community Resource Project (CRP) for Weatherization Services. CRP replaced all 10 of Philip's windows. In addition to the windows, CRP also replaced his water heater, heater and air conditioner, and provided utility bill assistance through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Philip is able to spend a warm winter in his home thanks to CRP's assistance.