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Transform Fresno is making change in our community. The intended outcome of this ambitious initiative is that residents see significant environmental and economic benefits in downtown, Chinatown, and southwest Fresno. The state’s Transformative Climate Communities Program (TCC) provides the City of Fresno with funding for various projects in these communities under the Transform Fresno name. There are currently 24 projects, and two are operated by Fresno EOC.The Fresno EOC Partnerships for Energy Savings and GHG Reduction in Southwest Fresno is Project #2 and involves the installation of solar panels and minor repairs for income-qualifying households in the TCC project area, much of which includes the 93706 zip code. The two programs operating Transform Fresno’s Project #2 are Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps and Energy Services.Jay Fitzpatrick, Solar Manager with the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps (LCC), oversees the project. “The goal of this project is to lower the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and to lower energy bills for area residents. And we’re helping to tackle that problem by providing solar through the Transform Fresno grant funding.”The program has been in operation for more than two years, installing energy efficient measures on 170 single-family homes in Southwest Fresno. Jay says, “We’ve done about 35 to 40 homes that have either been completed or are in the process of being completed. Most people see a reduction between 60- and 95% of their electricity bill.”

Ponzella Brackens-Boissiere is a Southwest Fresno resident who had solar panels installed by the Fresno EOC Local Conservation Corps on her home a couple of years ago. “My bill is definitely lower. At first, I didn’t see a big change. I don’t know what the hoopla was about. But as time went on, I was making the comparison. It was definitely a drastic change. And I can leave the air a lot longer because of the solar, which is nice, especially being in Fresno in this heat.”

Ponzella says the whole process didn’t take long, and it was an easy process. “I think it went really smoothly. He walked me through it literally, all the way. He came, sat down, and talked with me. He also called me on the phone, and we went back and forth. We went over how it could save me money and what it would do for the family.”

Once you qualify, LCC representatives come out and assess the home and pull the permit. Jay says the process takes about four to six weeks to be completed, and there is follow-up. “The biggest part of the maintenance is just cleaning the solar panels. And we want to check to make sure everything is running properly.”

In addition, homeowners and renters in Fresno County who are income-eligible can save money on minor home repairs. Weatherization includes the installation of energy conservation measures to help make your home safer and more comfortable. These measures can include: insulating exterior walls, installing low-flow shower heads, and weather-stripping doors and caulking windows or gaps around the home.

Matt Contrestano, Energy Manager with Fresno EOC Energy Services says, “Installing Solar Photovoltaics (PV) and energy/water saving measures in this area takes us one step closer to reducing hardships for clients, especially during these difficult times. We are seeing an increase of everyday expenses and many clients are on a fixed income. Fresno EOC is here to help provide peace of mind for them by helping them lower their energy costs.”

At the same time, corpsmembers are getting quality job training in the renewable energy arena and these skills are going to set them up for employment is this expanding job field.

For information on getting solar or weatherizing your home, Call (559) 263-1576 or click here.

If you would like information about weatherization for your home, call (559) 263-1588 or click here.

 

 

Another program of Transform Fresno is also powered by the sun. The Inside Out Community Garden is Project #14, located at the Sunset Community Center. The project name points to the goal of helping heal Southwest Fresno from the inside out. It’s designed to provide healthy food options and lower greenhouse gas emissions by planting drought-resistant and edible foliage.

Nia Hodge is the Fresno EOC Consultant for the Inside Out Community Garden. She has been with the project since it started in 2019. “This is a hidden gem in your backyard. Right now, we have tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cantaloupe, and watermelon. And we have new crops every 70 days because that’s how long it takes to render a crop. And of course, whatever we grow is seasonal.”

The objective is to heal through education, build community participation, and encourage healthy eating habits. Nia says there are hands-on growing activities for kids. “Usually, we have kids from an after-school program. A group of kids will come out, and we’ll do a lesson. They’ll observe the cycle of seeds and plants, and put their notes in a journal. And, every other week when asked, they come to plant, pick weeds, and compost.”

The garden is open to community members who live in the project area and have participated in growing the food. Area residents can sign up to rent ADA-accessible garden beds. The garden beds will be issued according to family size and the time of year which the family would like to grow. Nia says the community garden hours are Mondays and Fridays, from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Masking and social distancing are in effect.

Click here for more information about how you can get involved in the Inside Out Community Garden.

For media inquiries, please contact Claudia.solis@fresnoeoc.org.

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