New Solar Project in Works

The permit pipeline for solar projects in Kings County keeps filling up with the latest filing by Apex Energy Solution for a 3-megawatt solar project to be built at 22868 Zenith Ave in Kettleman City on a 40-acre parcel. The applicant is based in Folsom. The project, located near the Kings/Kern line, also goes by the name of Leo Solar.

New Solar Project in Works, by John Lindt, The Sentinel, August 31, 2017.

Tulare Approves Kraft Solar Plant

The Tulare Planning Commission approved a plan submitted by Tesla Energy to build a 65-acre, 13.9 megawatt solar farm to supply electricity to the Kraft cheese plant along Highway 99 in Tulare.

The solar farm will have some 42,000 solar panels that track the sun and also include a 8.4 megawatt lithium-ion battery unit for energy storage when the sun is not shinning.

The project, on the western side of the Kraft building, will supply some 25 percent of the power needs at the big food processing facility.

Tulare Approves Kraft Solar Plant, by John Lindt, Visalia Times-Delta, September 1, 2017.

A New Net-Zero-Energy Community Is Coming to California’s Central Valley

As the state prepares for a new building code, this 36-unit development will shed light on how such homes benefit the grid and homeowners alike.

California’s largest net-zero-energy housing development is coming next year to the Central Valley.

Third-generation homebuilder De Young Properties unveiled the 36-unit project Tuesday in Clovis, northeast of Fresno. The company has spent years redesigning its signature floor plans to include cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. The goal is to minimize the building’s electrical load and install enough rooftop solar to cover what remains, matching consumption and production over the year.

In practice, that boils down to improvements in the building envelope, which keeps air conditioning in and summer heat out. That’s not so hard in temperate coastal zones, but it’s a whole different story in the sun-baked Central Valley, which was forecast to hit 108 degrees Tuesday.

California is driving new home construction to net-zero energy by 2020 through the building code, as part of a broader climate goal to cut greenhouse gases from its economy. The first homes in De Young’s EnVision community will be completed in Q2 2018.

“We know that at some point the state will require everyone to do this. Why not learn it ahead of time, get used to it and figure out how to bring costs down earlier?” said Executive Vice President Brandon De Young. “You’re spending less on your energy bill, and the home’s going to be more comfortable as well.”

That quest has attracted some notable allies: Utility Pacific Gas & Electric and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) partnered in the endeavor to gather data on the energy improvements and the broader impact on the grid from this type of development.

All about the envelope

Achieving this level of load reduction requires a lot more than buying fancier appliances.

Reducing the energy load needed for climate control starts with higher density insulation, better insulated windows, an electric heat pump and high-efficiency air conditioning.

On top of that, De Young added a thicker frame by switching out 2×4 wall studs for 2×6 lumber. That simple change demanded redesign, re-engineering and re-permitting for all the plans.

The homes sit on concrete slabs, so the duct work for heating and cooling goes in the attic. Historically, attics haven’t been insulated, and can get up to well above the outside temperature in extreme heat. That means the HVAC system uses extra energy to counteract the heat that’s fighting its way into the ducts from the attic.

All that energy usage, by the way, makes it possible for homes in this area to pay $800 to $1,000 a month for the utility bill, De Young said.

His way out of the steamy attic scenario: Insulate the roof, rather than the ceiling. This extends the “thermal boundary” and buffers the existing ductwork against the outside heat; the attic stays pretty close to the temperature inside the living quarters.

Once all that is done, the designers size the solar capacity to match the total annual demand of the house. Homeowners will lease from SolarCity (now Tesla) or buy the system outright as an additional feature on the home.

Yes, but is it cost-effective?

De Young Properties has been iterating models of energy-efficient home packages since around 2009. Since then, De Young said, prices have come down for efficient components.

“The cost for upgraded windows in 2009 was a pretty significant premium,” he said. “If we included it, we had to market the heck out of it to make sure people knew they were buying a better product. Now the windows that were expensive then are pretty commonplace.”

The company built its first zero-net-energy pilot home in 2013 and has been optimizing design components to bring costs down since. The upfront premium for one of the new net-zero homes versus a comparable equivalent is down to single digits, De Young said.

Whether that investment succeeds in zeroing out energy bills will depend on a family’s consumption patterns, he cautioned (and there are fees that prevent anyone from truly getting to zero). If the monthly bill to beat is $1,000, though, it’s hard to see these homes not making a massive improvement for a resident’s energy budget.

EPRI’s role is to analyze the performance of the homes to verify the cost-effectiveness of the improvements.

“The ultimate goal is to achieve market transformation that leads to our decarbonization goals,” said EPRI principal program manager Ram Narayanamurthy. “Anytime we are trying to push the envelope as we are doing, we have to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

That group’s work with an earlier net-zero home project built by Meritage in Fontana had a felicitous outcome. The extra cost to achieve net zero was less than $20,000, or about $8 per square foot, Narayanamurthy said. When you break that out into additional monthly mortgage payments versus energy bill savings, the customers save more than they spend.

De Young’s use of basic insulation materials in the attic to drive significant efficiency savings sets it up well for cost-effective performance, he added.

“It’s about how you rethink your standard practice,” Narayanamurthy said. “Once you move to the new normal, it’s really not that much more expensive.”

A duck curve in every kitchen

PG&E’s involvement may come as more of a surprise, given that an aim of net-zero homes is to minimize the net flow of money from customers to their electric utility.

Under current regulatory policy, though, PG&E doesn’t make a profit on kilowatt-hours sold, said Peter Turnbull, the zero net energy program manager there. Regulators have tasked the utility with increasing both renewable generation and energy conservation, and the De Young project is a test case for both.

Plus, the utility also has a stake in understanding what an influx of net-zero houses means for grid integration.

“Until you actually do it, there are some unknowns,” Turnbull said.

Each house will generate its own family-sized duck curve: demand in the morning before work, then an abundance of solar production for the middle of the day and an evening peak as the sun tapers off and residents arrive home after work.

Since these homes aren’t configured with battery storage, they could push a lot of kilowatts onto the grid at the same time as all the other solar generation rushes onto the grid. Then again, if the smart appliances and HVAC systems can crank at midday to take advantage of the surplus power, they could prevent irksome solar dumps on the wires.

The total load of these homes will be considerably smaller than equivalent-sized homes without the net-zero makeover, so that should minimize the broader impact as well.

There are enough variables here to demand a proper study before drawing conclusions. There’s a little over two years left to learn before this becomes standard practice across the world’s sixth-largest economy.

A New Net-Zero-Energy Community Is Coming to California’s Central Valley, by Julian Spector, GreenTech Media, August 29, 2017.

CALSTART Project Manager to Lead New Northern San Joaquin Valley Office

CALSTART is making plans to open a second office in California’s San Joaquin Valley and has an immediate opening for a highly motivated person to join our team as a Project Manager. This is an exciting time for building the clean transportation technology industry, and this is a unique opportunity to help improve air quality, prevent climate change and create jobs. The Project Manager will work with Joseph Oldham, CALSTART’s Director of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center, who opened our first Valley office in Fresno about two years ago. This position will be based in the Northern part of the Valley, where CALSTART will open a second office to develop and manage high-impact clean transportation projects. The Project Manager, which is a full-time position with a strong compensation package, will be responsible for opening and managing CALSTART’s second office in the Northern part of the region.

CALSTART sees significant opportunities to work with its member companies and partners in the San Joaquin Valley to expand the use of cleaner and lower carbon cars, trucks, buses and fuels. CALSTART is recognized nationally and internationally as an effective industry catalyst organization. If you want a career where you are making a real impact and benefiting both society and the environment, consider coming to work for CALSTART.

For a complete job description, necessary skills and experience, and application information, please go to our website.

Voters of Color in California Polled: 74% think climate change is a serious problem facing the state

Climate change will effect us all, but it hits people of color hard in many ways. On August 22nd, KQED’s California Report released the results of a poll conducted by EMC Research of Oakland: out of 800 voters of color, 74% think climate change is a serious problem facing California.

To create questions for the poll EMC enlisted help from people like Veronica Garibay, Co-Director of the Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability, which does neighborhood organizing in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys. Previous polls have not focused on people of color and Garibay thinks that this confirms what community residents have been saying in inland regions of the state, throughout the state by people of color, communities of color, and lower-income communities that are feeling the impacts of climate change.

Along with releasing the results from the poll, Garibay said that a document will also be released identifying what climate justice is. Included in this document will be recommendations that different regions of the state conduct with vulnerability assessments to outline the threats they face from climate change and opportunities for change in those areas. In Fresno County, the Leadership Council has been working with community leaders to increase access to the city of Fresno. This partnership has worked to create a rural rideshare program that will use electric vehicles built and designed by the community and charged at charging stations located within the community. By incentivizing the use of electric vehicles, they hope to promote better air quality and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as to bring solutions to the rest of the state.

Source: The California Report – Audio version

In August 2016, Clean Power Exchange conducted a survey of voters in the San Joaquin Valley and found that a majority of Valley residents want clean, locally-produced electricity, and a choice in service providers.

Voters of Color in California Polled: 74% think climate change is a serious problem facing the state, by Ross Markey, Clean Power Exchange, August 23, 2017.

 

San Joaquin Regional Transit District Opens First 100 Percent Electric, Zero-Emissions Bus Rapid Transit Route in the U.S.

Stockton, Calif. – August 18, 2017 – San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) will convert its existing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Express Route 44 to 100 percent battery-electric, zero-emissions buses in August.  That BRT route will be the first in the U.S. to feature all-electric bus service.   The BRT buses were designed and built by California-based Proterra, a leading innovator in heavy-duty battery-electric transportation.

At the time of the conversion, Route 44 will be extended to serve passengers from the Downtown Transit Center (DTC) in Central Stockton to as far south as Qantas Lane near Arch-Airport Road.  The change will enable people who work or study at locations such as PG&E, Dorfman Pacific, Venture Academy, San Joaquin County Office of Education, and the Economic Development Department Qantas Lane office, to commute rapidly and economically.

“We at RTD are proud of our history of commitment to clean energy initiatives,” said Donna DeMartino, RTD’s CEO.  “With the nation’s first all-electric BRT route, RTD and Stockton are now leading the charge in providing safe, efficient, reliable, and exceptionally clean transportation to people who live and work in south Stockton.”

The benefits of using electric buses include:

  • Cleaner air
  • Quieter operation
  • Reduced maintenance cost

Electric buses can travel up to 40 miles or 2 hours on a charge.  The RTD charging stations take about 10 minutes to completely recharge a bus.

The price of each bus is approximately $850,000.  RTD received grant funding to cover the cost of the new electric buses.

RTD will launch a second all-electric BRT route in January 2018 along the MLK corridor in South Stockton.  That route will connect with RTD’s existing three BRT corridors.

BRT routes move passengers to desired destinations faster than other types of bus routes.

In further support of RTD’s commitment to its clean air initiatives, RTD’s Board of Directors passed an official resolution to declare its intent to convert to 100 percent electric, zero emission buses for all routes serving the City of Stockton by 2025.

About San Joaquin Regional Transit District:
RTD’s mission is to provide a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system for the region.  For more information visit sjRTD.com, follow RTD on Facebook and Twitter, or call (209) 943-1111.

About Proterra:
Proterra is a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles, enabling bus fleet operators to significantly reduce operating costs while delivering clean, quiet transportation to local communities across the United States. With more than 400 vehicles sold to 41 different municipal, university, airport and commercial transit agencies in 20 states, Proterra is committed to providing state of the art, high-performance vehicles to meet today’s growing market demand. The company’s configurable Catalyst platform is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of the toughest transit routes on a single charge. With unmatched durability and energy efficiency based on rigorous U.S. certification testing, Proterra products are proudly designed, engineered and manufactured in America, with offices in Silicon Valley, South Carolina, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit:http://www.proterra.com and follow us on Twitter @Proterra_Inc.

###

San Joaquin Regional Transit District Opens First 100 Percent Electric, Zero-Emissions Bus Rapid Transit Route in the U.S.Proterra, August 18, 2017.

Floating Solar Power: new frontier for green-leaning water utilities

Lakes and ponds used by water utilities have long been viewed with a single purpose: holding water. Now a handful of pioneering water utilities are looking at their aquatic real estate with a new purpose in mind: solar energy generation.

Large-scale floating solar projects have been installed in Japan and China, as well as on ponds at California wineries. But solar energy has remained primarily a terrestrial endeavor because, in most cases, it is simpler and cheaper to mount photovoltaic (solar) panels on land.

That is beginning to change. The floats and other mounting components unique to water-based solar are slightly more expensive, but that difference will evaporate as more projects are built. And as solar has proliferated in some areas, it has become harder to find available land for new installations.

Now a few water agencies are embracing floating solar to maximize the utility of their storage ponds and reservoirs. Floating solar panels can provide energy that offsets operating costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And there are other benefits: Floating solar panels throw shade on the water surface, which can reduce evaporation and algae growth.

Sonoma County Water Agency will install floating solar panel arrays later this year. The panels will float on its Oceanview treated wastewater pond in Windsor, where shade from the panels will reduce the cost of algae control, and the electricity produced will help power the treatment process.

The agency had already built solar arrays on rooftops and parking lots, said general manager Grant Davis. The next choice was ranch land, but that posed a conflict with livestock grazing operations.

“We were looking then for disturbed acreage that was going to be out of sight, out of mind,” Davis said. “And what better place than a wastewater treatment pond?”

The agency was also motivated by a 2008 policy adopted by its board of directors to become “carbon free” by 2015 – meaning it aimed to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from its energy demand – a goal that it met.

So about three years ago the agency signed a contract with Pristine Sun, a San Francisco firm, to develop a floating solar panel system for several of its treatment ponds. Pristine had not built a floating solar system before. But after some research and testing, the first system was installed as a pilot project at the Oceanview treatment pond in summer 2016.

The trial was successful, and a permanent installation at the pond is expected to go live by the end of this year. It will produce 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to offset 4 percent of the agency’s electrical demand. The panels will be mounted on plastic floats borrowed from the dredge-mining industry.

The team plans five more floating solar projects on other treatment ponds. In total, they’ll produce enough electricity to power 3,500 homes.

“We’ll see about $33,000 in annual power savings at buildout,” Davis said.

The water agency pays nothing for these projects. Pristine Sun covers all costs for equipment, installation and permitting, and then makes its money selling the energy that’s generated.

Troy Helming, Pristine Sun’s founder and chief executive, said floating solar is still extremely rare in the U.S. But he said the potential is “enormous.”

In California alone, using a very conservative estimate of available inland water surface area, Helming estimates floating solar could produce 20 gigawatts of electricity. That’s more than 10 percent of the state’s total energy need.

“It seems like there is quite a bit of interest, which is exciting,” said Helming. “Now in California and Hawaii and Japan, and other parts of the world, there are challenges sometimes finding new locations where you do have fairly high concentrations of both rooftop and ground-mount solar. It makes a lot of sense to look at these underutilized assets owned by water agencies and municipalities for this potential application.”

One drawback to such installations is that the floating solar panels and their anchoring systems must not interfere with water system operations. That means preserving access to drains and other plumbing. In some cases, panels may need to be easily removable.

But these are simple “engineering challenges,” Helming said. In many cases, floating solar offers more advantages than drawbacks. One advantage is reducing algae that can rapidly clog filters, requiring more frequent cleaning or replacement. Depending on location and use of the water, algae may also pose a public health concern.

Evaporation control is another potential benefit. For many utilities, water is essentially money. They spend millions of dollars pumping and treating water, which then becomes a commodity that is sold to customers. So any water lost to evaporation is essentially lost revenue.

Water can also enhance solar generation. Ironically, too much heat reduces a solar panel’s energy output. Every panel is rated for certain temperature limits, above which energy output plummets. But a watery surface will always be cooler than the bare ground on which most solar arrays are built.

Dirt is another enemy of solar panels. Wind-blown dust inevitably collects on panels, preventing some of the sun’s energy from reaching photovoltaic cells. This can reduce energy output by 20 percent or more. Most ground-mounted solar arrays get cleaned only two or three times a year.

Helming’s company has rigged its floating panels with a simple sprinkler system to clean the panels using water drawn from the reservoir underneath. It cleans the panels every day.

“We’re curious to look at the data ourselves and see if we actually reap those ancillary benefits,” said Kelly Rodgers, energy program manager at the San Diego County Water Authority.

The San Diego agency signed a contract with Pristine Sun to install a 6-megawatt solar array floating on its Olivenhain Reservoir that will cover about 10 percent of the water surface.

Rodgers’ agency first sought bids for a floating solar project five years ago and got no “viable results,” she said. It tried again about 18 months ago and received several proposals.

The 24,000 acre-feet Olivenhain Reservoir functions purely as an emergency supply for the San Diego region, so water levels don’t fluctuate much. Also, recreation is not allowed there. Both factors simplify the installation, Rodgers said, which they hope to complete by the end of 2018.

“Certainly we wouldn’t cover the entire reservoir,” Rodgers said. “But we may add additional panels if this turns out to be a really good thing for us. We’re always trying to reap revenue and recover costs to stabilize our water bills.”

The Olivenhain project may include battery storage, Rodgers said. This would allow the water authority to maximize revenue by selling electricity during evening and late-afternoon hours, when solar output drops off but energy demand is peaking.

There are some big fish to catch in the floating solar business. One of the biggest of all is the California Aqueduct, owned by the state Department of Water Resources (DWR), which exports vast amounts of water from north to south. The aqueduct offers more than 400 miles of canal surface area that could be covered with solar panels in a region of the state – the San Joaquin Valley – that is relentlessly sunny.

DWR – a huge energy consumer – also faces a state mandate to slash its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

As recently as 2015, DWR investigated covering portions of the canal with solar panels. It concluded this wasn’t feasible because of the need for frequent visual inspections of the canal and the water surface itself. It also cited challenges in attaching panels to the canal banks.

But it appears DWR’s analysis may not have considered the prospect of floating solar panels, which pose a much less intensive installation process. They could also be easier to move temporarily to allow inspections.

A University of California, Davis study in 2015 found that covering the aqueduct with solar panels would more than pay for itself. It could also prevent over 9,000 acre-feet of water evaporation per day. On an annual basis, that’s equal to the entire capacity of Lake Oroville, the state’s second-largest reservoir.

The study found that mounting solar panels on just a single 80-mile stretch of canal serving the Bay Area would avoid water losses worth $1 million annually.

Helming said transforming the aqueduct into a solar-energy producer is entirely feasible today.

“There would be a whole bunch of companies that would jump at the chance to cover the aqueduct with solar at no cost to the state,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Water Deeply, and you can find the original here. For important news about the California drought, you can sign up to the Water Deeply email list.

Floating Solar Power: new frontier for green-leaning water utilities, by Staff, UPI, August 17, 2017.

LOIS HENRY: Time to Tell the State How You Think PG&E’s Latest Rate Increase Should Be Divvied up — Just Try and Keep It Clean

I love that the California Public Utilities Commission is coming to Bakersfield in August, after the second-hottest July on record, to hold a hearing about how PG&E should spread the pain of its latest rate increase.

Summer is the perfect time to ask Bakersfieldians what we think about energy costs.

Yes, folks, the PUC will have representatives here Monday for two public comment sessions regarding who should pay how much of the $1.5 billion (2017-19) raise PG&E got earlier this year.

The size of the rate increase “pie” is set, the PUC is just trying to work out how big a slice it’s going to cram down our throats.

Which brings me back to “baseline allotments,” something I’ve written about for years now.

The concept of baseline energy was concocted in the 1980s when the Legislature directed the PUC to create tiered rates as a means to encourage energy conservation.

The idea is consumers won’t use as much electricity in order to stay in lower-cost tiers.

The lowest tier is considered baseline energy.

The amount of baseline is supposed to be between 50 percent and 60 percent of the average amount of energy used by consumers in each of PG&E’s nine territories.

Anyhow, in Kern County we are allotted about 520 kilowatt-hours, or kWh, per month in summer, which runs from May through October.

We’re charged about 20 cents per kWh within the baseline amount.

The next tier, which is up to 400 percent above baseline, is charged at nearly 30 cents per kWh.

The third tier is 40 cents per kWh for anything greater than 400 percent over baseline.

In Kern County during summer, most people blow past baseline like it’s standing still.

I think the baseline allotment should be increased for areas with such harsh summers.

There are a couple of ways to do this.

1. Reduce summer months to June through September.

May and October are usually pretty temperate. Including them in the calculation drives down the “average use” amount on which baseline is calculated.

2. Exclude solar homes from the average-use calculation.

I wrote about this last October and it still galls me.

Homes equipped with solar panels use little to no energy.

Including them in the calculation of “average use” is like including rocks.

 The more solar homes in an area, the less energy is used, driving down the baseline allotment and increasing costs for those of us who can’t afford solar.

It’s unfair and needs to change. (See sidebar for info about a bill in the state Senate that would do just that.)

These are two small but important issues for residential customers to bring to the PUC’s attention in our own defense.

There are other, bigger, issues that need to be tackled, including rattling the Kern County Board of Supervisors to look at “community choice aggregation.”

That’s where the county can choose to buy its electricity from a generator other than PG&E but still use the utility’s distribution lines.

Other counties have done it and pay up to 32 percent less on generation costs.

Since generation costs make up more than 40 percent of our bills, that could be substantial.

But, as I said, that’s another issue for another time.

For now, all we can hope for is a little relief on baseline allotments.

A dark corner of my heart wishes the City of Bakersfield would turn off the A/C during the PUC’s meeting Monday to show commissioners what it’s really like to try and live within our baseline allotments.

But then no one would stick around for the meeting.

* This column was corrected in regards to tier 2 charges.

LOIS HENRY: Time to Tell the State How You Think PG&E’s Latest Rate Increase Should Be Divvied up — Just Try and Keep It Clean, by Lois Henry, Bakersfield.com, August 12, 2017.

Fresno TCC Project Kickoff Workshops, August 15th and 16th

Do you have an interesting project idea you’d like to propose to be considered for Transformative Climate Communities funding? Are you curious to learn about what other projects might be under development? Would you like to connect with others who are also working on potential projects for funding?

Then please join us next week at our Project Kickoff Workshops as we take on all of those topics. Workshops will be held on:

Tuesday, August 15th
First Presbyterian Church of Fresno | 1540 M Street, Fresno CA 93721
Registration begins at 5:00pm
Workshop from 5:30-7:30pm

Wednesday, August 16th
Westside Church of God | 1422 West California Avenue, Fresno CA 93706
Registration begins at 5:00pm
Workshop from 5:30-7:30pm

Light refreshments and childcare will be provided.

The event location is physically accessible. Services of an interpreter and additional accommodations such as assistive listening devices can be made available. Requests for accommodations should be made more than five working days but no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled meeting/event. Please contact Laura Gloria at 559-621- or Laura.Gloria@Fresno.gov.

Updates from Community Steering Committee #2 on August 2nd

Did you miss our last Community Steering Committee meeting on August 2nd at the Westside Church of God? If so, we have a video of our meeting you can view here and you can review the powerpoint presentation we covered, which goes into depth on the local Fresno TCC process, here.

Please save the date for our next Community Steering Committee meeting which will be held on Wednesday, August 30th from 5:00-7:30pm at the Westside Church of God. Anyone who lives, works, or owns property in southwest, Chinatown, or downtown Fresno is eligible to join the Community Steering Committee. The Community Steering Committee will be responsible for selecting the final package of projects comprising $70 million that the City will submit to the State for funding.

The California Strategic Growth Council also released a new draft funding guidelines document which you can view here. The Strategic Growth Council will be adopting the final Transformative Climate Communities Guidelines at their meeting on Thursday, August 24th in Sacramento.

As always, for more information please visit our website at www.transformfresno.com. We’re always interested to hear your feedback on how we can improve our process so please reach out to Danielle (danielle@centralvalleycf.org) or Laura (laura.gloria@fresno.gov) if you have more questions.

Fresno TCC Project Kickoff Workshops, August 15th and 16thTransform Fresno, August 9, 2017.

San Joaquin Regional Transit District in Stockton lines up as Electric Bus Customer

July 27–Proterra, the Burlingame builder of electric buses, opened a factory in the Los Angeles area Wednesday, in an effort to move some of its manufacturing closer to its West Coast customers.

The company’s new plant, in the City of Industry, will build buses for public transit agencies throughout California and other Western states. Until now, all of its battery-powered buses have been built in South Carolina and shipped to customers — a sometimes expensive proposition.

The company moved its headquarters to California in 2015 after concluding that the state — with its strong emphasis on fighting climate change — could become its biggest market.

The new factory lies close to Proterra’s first customer, Foothill Transit, which has committed to electrifying its entire bus fleet by 2030. The agency serves 25 cities in San Gabriel Valley and Pomona Valley, and already runs 17 Proterra buses. Other California customers include the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Transit District in Stockton.

“We can redirect the billions of dollars we’re spending on dirty fuel and equipment, mostly from vendors out of state, and clean up our air while employing our neighbors,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple Wednesday, at an opening ceremony for the factory. The company says its latest buses can travel more than 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

The factory occupies a building formerly used to make LED lights. It is expected to employ 60 people by the end of this year and 100 people by the end of 2018, according to the company.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who a day earlier signed a law allowing California’s cap-and-trade market for curbing greenhouse gases to continue to operate past 2020, told the crowd of dignitaries and Proterra employees that the switch to electric buses is inevitable. But he cautioned that China, where he recently met with President Xi Jinping, is determined to dominate the market for electric vehicles, the way it has with solar panels.

“It’s a competitive challenge, and we’ve got to meet it,” Brown said. He also threw in a dig at Congress and the Trump administration, which is trying to roll back federal climate policies.

“We are a great nation, and we’ve got to wake up, make the investments, and get the political will to get things done,” Brown said. “And that’s what’s happening here in California.”

David R. Baker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dbaker@sfchronicle.com

___ (c)2017 the San Francisco Chronicle Visit the San Francisco Chronicle at www.sfgate.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

San Joaquin Regional Transit District in Stockton lines up as Electric Bus Customer, by David R. Baker, Mass Transit, July 27, 2017.