Empowering Our Westside Communities through Energy Upgrades 

At the onset of 2022, Utah Clean Energy was fortunate to receive a few key grants and a cooperative agreement to support our ongoing efforts to create healthy, thriving communities for all, empowered, and sustained by clean energy. 

Of these grants, one from The Intermountain Community Care Foundation aims to “support identified health priorities, improve access to healthcare services, and increase healthy behaviors for low-income, uninsured or medically-underserved populations in Utah and southern Idaho.” In an alignment with this need, Utah Clean Energy’s “Empower SLC” program aims to build capacity in Salt Lake County’s under-represented communities to mitigate the health and environmental impacts associated with energy use in our homes and buildings.   

Salt Lake County’s Westside communities are vulnerable to several unique forms of pollution not experienced by other neighborhoods within the county. This includes emissions from close interstate freeways, industrial pollution, indoor air pollution from energy use, and the community’s proximity to an international airport, freight rail line, and a natural gas power plant.  

In addition to the environmental and public health consequences of outdoor air pollution, many of Salt Lake County’s low-income and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community members often live in older housing that have inefficient heating and cooling systems, poorly ventilated fireplaces and stoves, and minimal insulation. This results in higher exposure to indoor air pollutants from things like outdated or poorly ventilated gas appliances. As a recipient of this grant, we seek to address these challenges by working directly with two Westside community organizations, Guadalupe School and Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Utah (FWCTU).  

To begin addressing these problems we will work with both organizations to facilitate energy upgrades to their facility(ies) and/or facilitate home energy upgrades to 10-12 individual/families associated with each organization. Facility upgrades will include an energy assessment and upgrades through Rocky Mountain Power’s WattSmart Business program with a focus on energy-saving LED lighting and tune-ups and/or controls, upgrades to existing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) units. As for home energy upgrades we will provide smart thermostats and free energy-saving LED light bulbs to help Guadalupe’s community members save money on utility bills. Additional upgrades include attic insulation and air sealing improvements by Energy Experts. 

Our goal in this partnership is to educate communities on how energy use at home and in our buildings impact air quality and climate change. While also lowering their utility bills, improving air quality inside and outside, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change.  

Home energy upgrades for Guadalupe School will be performed by Energy Experts who has helped thousands of homeowners each year with effective energy-efficient solutions. LED light bulbs were generously donated by Rocky Mountain Power who simultaneously has offered time, knowledge, and staff to help with FWCTU’s facility upgrades. 

This funding opportunity allows our Empower SLC team to work towards equity and social justice by including and uplifting diverse voices. Moreover, Utah Clean Energy as a whole, aims to continuously build strong, reciprocal relationships with diverse community members, organizations, and institutions. Through collaborative opportunities like this one, we will continue to elevate underrepresented voices into initiatives that support a clean energy economy and address climate change.  


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