In recent years, the City of Fremont has made great strides in reducing municipal and community energy consumption and improving overall environmental sustainability. As one of 50 semifinalist competitors in the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP) competition—a two-year long national competition among small- to medium-sized communities to reduce per capita energy usage in the residential, municipal, and public school sectors—Fremont committed itself to implementing innovative, replicable, and scalable models of energy efficiency during the 2015–2016 timeframe.
With a final GUEP ranking of 20th nationally, Fremont reduced energy consumption in homes by about 15 percent and in City operations by over 23 percent between 2013 and 2016. To achieve these savings as well as demonstrate continued commitment to the City’s climate action goals, Fremont has promoted energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations for both local residences as well as public facilities.
In fact, for the last 10 years, the City has partnered with Rising Sun Energy Center and the Alameda County Water District to offer California Youth Energy Services, providing no-cost “Green House Calls” for local renters and homeowners. Since its inception, this program has employed a total of 89 Fremont youth to install energy and water saving equipment in 2,717 households. An additional 212 single family and 342 multifamily units have undergone Energy Upgrade California whole home upgrades, utilizing over $1 million in statewide incentives since 2014. Together, these home upgrade projects have resulted in savings of over 1.3 million kWh of household electricity, 50,000 therms of gas, and six million gallons of water.
Fremont residents have not only reduced their energy consumption; they are also producing their own clean energy. In 2015, Fremont partnered with Bay Area SunShares to launch a residential solar group purchasing program. The SunShares program, which just completed its third year, offers residents a limited-time, pre-negotiated discount on solar photovoltaic systems from reputable Bay Area solar vendors. Hundreds of Fremont residents have participated in solar educational workshops, with a total of 77 homes utilizing the SunShares program directly to install rooftop solar. The City has also improved solar permitting processes, provided access to property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, and supported the local clean technology sector. In fact, these efforts earned the City top designation as a SolSmart Gold community at the end of 2016 from the U.S. Department of Energy for encouraging solar market transformation. By late 2017, a total of 29.1 MW of solar generating capacity had been installed on 3,441 homes and 85 non-residential facilities throughout Fremont, with more than half of those installations occurring in just the past three years alone.
The City itself has played a significant role in energy savings over the past few years as well. In 2015, the City signed a contract for a $9.1 million energy and water conservation project that has resulted in the installation of more than 15,000 LED streetlights and park lights, high-efficiency lighting and plumbing fixtures throughout City buildings, weather-based irrigation controls in City parks, and energy conserving pool pumps at the Aqua Adventure Waterpark. These upgrades—wrapping up in early 2018—will save the City 4.6 million kWh of electricity, 9.1 million gallons of water, and 16,000 therms of gas on an annual basis. In addition, the City has installed over 1.5 MW of clean energy in the form of solar carport structures at the Robert Wasserman Police Complex, Maintenance Services Center, Aqua Adventure Waterpark, and Irvington Community Center. Finally, the City is working with a Fremont-based clean technology firm to demonstrate “microgrid” (solar + energy storage) systems at three fire station facilities, providing both clean energy for regular operations as well as backup power during utility outages. Together, these solar energy systems will offset more than 2.4 million kWh of grid-based electricity with clean power.
Overall, between 2013 and 2016, the community reduced its energy consumption by 14.9 percent in the residential, municipal, and public school sectors (see accompanying chart). The City of Fremont congratulates the City of Fargo, North Dakota as the winner of the Georgetown Prize, who will receive $5 million in financing for an “energy efficiency dream project.” Together, the 50 semifinalist communities in the Georgetown Prize reduced 11.5 billion kBTUs of energy, offset 2.76 million tons of carbon emissions, and saved over $100 million in utility bills across the nation!
To learn more about energy upgrade and climate action opportunities, visit the Fremont Green Challenge.