Menlo Park partners with BlocPower to electrify homes and businesses by 2030

by Linda Hubbard on June 17, 2022

The City of Menlo Park and BlocPower announced a public-private partnership to provide building electrification services to the Menlo Park community. Menlo Park’s Climate Action Plan has set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The City Council approved the partnership through passage of a resolution, concluding months of diligence and negotiations by city officials and employees.

Building decarbonization is a central component of the city’s 2030 climate plan, with fossil fuel consumption in buildings accounting for 41% of Menlo Park’s greenhouse gas emissions. Through the partnership with BlocPower, the city aims to electrify 15 buildings in 2022, 100 in 2023 and 1,000 or more per year in 2024 and beyond. Upgrades in this voluntary program will include the installation of heat pumps for heating and cooling, heat pump water heaters, electric vehicle charging stations, solar, battery storage as well as other efficiency measures.

BlocPower will scale the program by using data models to improve project design efficiency, equipment supplier relationships to lower costs, and providing affordable and accessible project financing. Local nonprofit Menlo Spark is also working with the City to raise up to $35 million to reduce project costs for low-to-moderate income households.

The program will have an initial focus in Belle Haven, a district along the bayfront most impacted by climate change. BlocPower will establish community advisory boards to center Menlo Park stakeholder needs and wants in program design. An accompanying job training program will create local jobs, while addressing the shortage of labor required to scale the program.

“Menlo Park is rooted in innovation, committed to doing its part to solve the climate crisis. This partnership will allow the City to address a large source of emissions. We also chose BlocPower due to their community based approach, which aligns with our commitment of centering the needs of those who live, play and work in Menlo Park,” said Mayor Betsy Nash of Menlo Park.

“We are excited to partner with BlocPower, a company committed to bringing equal access and inclusive programs including jobs development to Menlo Park,” said Councilmember Cecilia Taylor of Menlo Park. “The Belle Haven community is an area of our city surrounded by a freeway and two highways, which negatively impacts air quality. Building electrification is a proven way to improve our community’s health and resiliency.”

“We must unlock financing to speed electrification and make it accessible to everyone. This is an exciting opportunity for a public-private partnership with BlocPower, which also strives to help local workforces gain knowledge and job training in the field of decarbonization,” said State Senator Josh Becker, D-Peninsula. “I support this effort and look forward to using lessons learned from this program to inform the broader policy landscape of building electrification.”

“We have been closely monitoring innovative efforts to phase out methane gas use, and look forward to supporting this partnership with an ambitious company. This partnership is a game changer because it will help scale a transition off fossil fuels to clean electric throughout Menlo Park, and chart a successful path for other municipalities to follow,” said Diane Bailey of Menlo Spark.

“Menlo Park just set a crucial, historic climate precedent as the first city on the West Coast to establish a public/private partnership of this kind,” said Angela Sherry Evans, Environmental Quality Commissioner, City of Menlo Park. “We aim to electrify 95% of our existing buildings, dramatically reducing our city’s dependence on methane combustion (aka, natural gas), responsible for almost half our greenhouse gas emissions. We hope this bold step will inspire other cities to follow suit so that we can collectively achieve the deep greenhouse gas reductions necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

“We are delighted to partner with the City of Menlo Park to deliver the benefits of building electrification. Menlo Park is leading the world in responding to the climate challenge, and we are happy to help implement it. This program will help to deliver smarter, greener, healthier buildings for all,” said CEO Donnel Baird of BlocPower.

“JobTrain is committed to helping those most in need reclaim their lives from poverty and unemployment by preparing them for successful careers in high-demand and emerging fields,” said Barrie Hathaway, CEO of JobTrain. “Bringing BlocPower into our community will provide pathways to the fast growing green jobs sector, providing training in installing electrical appliances, and creating healthier communities in the process.”

Those interested can sign up for building electrification projects with BlocPower.

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One Comment

Ole Agesen June 18, 2022 at 5:22 pm

From personal experience with eliminating methane from our house, this partnership with Bloc Power is a terrific step forward. Streamlining, simplification, one-stop for all gas appliances, cost reduction through bulk buying, training, and financing options are all needed to increase the rate of de-gassing Menlo Park.

Menlo Park’s Climate Action Plan aims for zero emissions (zero methane) by 2030. It is ambitious and Bloc Power can help us make progress.

I hope we can expand the Bloc Power program from pilot scale to full scale as soon as possible and open it up to all of Menlo Park, both for home owners and renters.

Today’s issue of The Economist has an article about the slow progress worldwide on reducing emissions related to buildings (Greening property – A tall order).

https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2022/06/15/the-construction-industry-remains-horribly-climate-unfriendly

The article goes into great detail on the challenges of reducing emissions from buildings (both the construction itself and the operations of the buildings). Two positive steps stood out to me:

For new buildings:

In Britain energy-performance requirements for new homes will be dramatically tightened from 2025.

For existing buildings (much more important since homes last many decades):

In Italy the government has pledged to cover the full cost of green renovations, plus an additional 10% to incentivise those still unsure about switching, through tax deductions of up to $104,000 per home.

Menlo Park’s partnership with Bloc Power is fantastic, but it is just a first step. We can do much more both locally, in California and Federally. We can, and we should.

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