2021 Quick Start Grant Recipients
Redwood Coast Energy Authority
Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) serves customers in rural Humboldt County, many of which subsist on non-regulated fuels. To address this barrier, RCEA partnered with TECH Clean California to provide rebates for twenty projects converting space heating and water heating systems using non-investor-owned utility (IOU)-regulated fuels to electric heat pumps. These rebates were able to be layered with RCEA’s locally funded heat pump rebate program, increasing access for households by lowering upfront costs.
A major market barrier is the high upfront cost for heat pump space and water heating projects, particularly in more rural parts of Humboldt County where homeowners rely on propane, cordwood, and other non-IOU regulated fuels. These customers, who tend to be more rural, isolated, and low-income, are subject to higher fuel costs, adverse health impacts from poorer indoor air quality, and greater difficulty in acquiring and maintaining an adequate supply of fuel. While these households are within the gas service territory, they have never been connected to the gas system and are ineligible to receive incentives funded by utility ratepayers.
The project addresses a gap in rebate accessibility for efficient heat pump equipment by targeting customers within the IOU gas service area who are not connected to the natural gas grid and use heating fuels such as propane, kerosene, fuel oil, and wood for appliance replacement. This pilot is aimed to reduce heating costs for households living with limited financial resources, as well as avoiding future gas service line extensions. Furthermore, RCEA will layer rebates to reduce upfront costs for customers and dedicate new community outreach staff, connecting customers and contractors within the program.
RCEA found that the limited availability of rebates prevented some customers from moving forward, while others saw it as an opportunity to act immediately. Other customers were hesitant to electrify due to past experiences with prolonged or frequent power outages that would take away their ability to heat their home. Local contractors proved to be a significant driver of adoption as RCEA navigated ways to engage and support their needs for participation. See the following key learnings from this project:
- Upfront costs of heat pumps restrict low-income households from electrifying
- Successful customer outreach was conducted through multiple channels
- A program liaison for contractors drove participation in rural areas
- Rural, hard-to-reach communities inherently require more effort to facilitate engagement
- Provide an expanded, more consistent stream of incentive funding for heat pumps to support customers with non-regulated fuel in small, rural communities
- A percentage of funding for programs in rural communities should be used for local, part-time administrative staff, resource support, and engagement to actively promote the program at public events
Download the full report by visiting techcleanca.com/about/reporting.
February 2022 – May 2023
Residential Single Family
HPWH, HP HVAC
Humboldt County, CA