PALM DESERT – Some Coachella Valley homes are about to become more energy efficient with the help of nearly $1 million from The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

The financial award is tailored to make homes in the Coachella Valley more energy efficient, improve air quality and reduce energy costs for residents.

The SCAQMD Governing Board, at its Jan. 4 meeting, voted to award $966,667 to Alcal Specialty Contracting for a residential energy efficiency retrofit program in the Coachella Valley.

The award comes a few months after Supervisor V. Manuel Perez joined SCAQMD’s board in September, and results from Perez’s advocacy to dedicate resources from the air quality district to help eastern Riverside County residents have a role in improving air quality, according to a news release.

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Supervisor V. Manuel Perez

“I am pleased that air quality improvement funds will be directed to our region to help residents make their homes more energy efficient and reduce emissions, while also saving money on their utility bills,” Perez, a member of the SCAQMD Governing Board, said in a prepared statement. “Retrofitting homes will reduce air pollution and, most importantly, improve public health for communities in the Coachella Valley and eastern Riverside County.”

This program expands an effort that was initially funded in 2015 and 2016. Under the original program, more than 2,100 homes received a basic energy efficiency retrofit designed to save energy and help offset the emissions from the newly constructed Sentinel Energy Project in Desert Hot Springs. While serving in the California State Assembly, Perez authored legislation, AB 1318, which established a mitigation fund that was the funding source for the original project.

This financial award was among a larger package of measures evaluated by staff at the SCAQMD. Awards were based on how each project’s design contributed to the AQMD’s mandate to meet ambient air quality standards for fine particulates and ozone. Funds for the projects come from air quality penalty settlements, mitigation fees and other sources.

More information about the program, eligibility criteria and when it will start will be made available once guidelines are released.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. household used 90 million British thermal units (Btu) in 2009, or nearly 50 percent more energy than the average car in a year. Homes built since 2000 use only 2 percent more energy on average than older homes, despite being on average 30 percent larger.

Perez represents the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River, the Fourth District is the largest geographical district in the county.