"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation


PG&E Part of Effort to Make Small Central California Towns More Energy-Efficient



By Tracy Correa

McKITTRICK – Residents in this remote town — population 115 — in Kern County’s hilly west-side don’t have much. The grocery store is 17 miles away and the incomes of most residents are on the lower end.

That’s why PG&E is working with county governments and local partners like Staples Energy and Southern California Gas to make homes and businesses more energy efficient. The premise is simple: Saving money and energy benefits everyone.

PG&E and other companies worked with residents and businesses in small towns to help them save money and energy. Here Staples Energy installer James Ramirez talks with McKittrick resident James Howard. (Photos by James Green.)

McKittrick resident Evonne Ezell relied on table lamps to light her kitchen, but those days are gone. Now, an energy-efficient ceiling light illuminates her 90-year-old home.

“It’s bright… It’s bright. We had to use three different lights to light up to where you could see from the stove to the sink to the ice box and counters. And the one light, it lights up the whole kitchen to where you see everything,” said Ezell.

Ezell’s front porch now has a sensor light that makes it easier for her to see outdoors at night in a town – two blocks long and two blocks wide — that doesn’t have street lights.

Residents in five underserved communities in the southern part of PG&E’s service territory are receiving the no-cost and low-cost help. Besides lighting, weather-stripping and other upgrades, sometimes even new appliances, are part of the effort.

Five cities — in five counties — benefit from the program.

Besides McKittrick in Kern County, residents and businesses in Shandon (San Luis Obispo County), in Stratford (Kings County), in Casmalia (Santa Barbara County) and in Waukena (Tulare County) also benefit from the program.

The program is funded by California utility customers and administered by participating agencies through the California Public Utilities Commission.

Customers learned about the assistance at community meetings spearheaded by PG&E’s Dave Christensen out of Bakersfield, who said the program is helping not just homeowners, but businesses and schools. Christensen initiated the program that could be expanded to other areas next year.

In Shandon, for example, businesses stand to save thousands after upgrades.

“The community of Shandon, for the businesses and school, all the work that we have done — not counting the residential savings — we are saving those customers over $10,000 a year in utility costs,” said PG&E’s David Christensen, senior program manager for local government partnerships.

Waukena Elementary School, the center of a poor, mostly farmworker community, has received $15,000 in upgrades.

PG&E’s Dave Christensen worked with residents and businesses in five Central California towns.

Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel, who took part in the community meeting in Waukena, said he appreciates PG&E’s efforts to bring these programs directly to residents.

“Every little bit does matter here in Tulare County, in the Valley,” said Vander Poel. “Whether it’s weather stripping or changing light bulbs — making it more efficient — or dual-pane windows … whatever the efficiency upgrades can be will make a difference for these families.”

It’s energy efficiency that is saving valuable dollars for those who need it most.

E-mail Tracy Correa at Tracy.Correa@pge.com