Clean Energy Programs Could Bring an Economic Boom

Gov. Jerry Brown painted a picture of California Thursday morning. In that painting, he described a state ravaged by forest fires, disease and mass migration if lawmakers fail to renew the state’s signature program to fight climate change, which he called “a threat to organized human existence.”

Brown is pressing lawmakers to extend California’s cap-and-trade legislation, which puts a limit on carbon emissions and requires polluters to obtain permits to release greenhouse gases.The legislation expires in 2020 and the current proposal would expand the program until 2030.

Brown emphasized his point telling the audience, “this is the most important vote of your life.”

“A lot of you people are going to be alive,” he said, turning to a room packed with lobbyists and advocates on both sides of the debate. “And you’re going to be alive in a horrible situation that you’re going to see mass migrations, vector diseases, forest fires, Southern California blowing up. That’s real, guys.”

The climate initiative, which needs the support of two-thirds of lawmakers, and the air quality bill, which needs a simple majority to pass, has been pushed to be voted on Monday.

Lawmakers planned to vote Thursday.

The delay “will also allow our discussion on long-term housing affordability solutions in California to catch up to the climate effort,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a joint statement.

Counties are trying to do their part to meet state standards.

State and local air boards are creating incentives for people to buy electric cars and hyrbids are being sold like never before.

Homeowners are also finding some relief in solar panels, as rebates and incentives become more plentiful for the costly energy-saving projects.

In Tulare County, the Board of Supervisions approved a home improvement program allowing property owners to make environmentally efficient and cost friendly improvements to their homes.

The approved Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE) operates in partnership with the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) and has provided assistance to 456 homeowners in the county.

“HERO is a public-private partnership that can save Tulare County homeowners money on their utility bills, provide a boost to local businesses, and reduce emissions—all at no cost to public budgets,” said Greg Frost, National Communications Director for Renovate America, the company that administers HERO. “With HERO, a broad range of homeowners will now be able to access energy-saving home improvements, while benefiting from consumer safeguards that go well beyond those found with other types of home-improvement financing.”

The improvements thus far are projected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14 million tons.

Energy costs take up 5 to 22 percent of the American household after-tax income, according to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity report.

High energy bills, which make up one of the largest household energy expenditures, often make consumers choose between paying to feel comfortable in their home or paying for basic necessities such as food, gas, rent, clothes and health care.

The average total cost of energy in California is $257 a month.

Clean energy programs to boom economy

Clean energy programs could bring 8,400 new jobs and $845 million in economic growth to the San Joaquin Valley by 2024.

Community Choice Energy, CCE programs created by state law are local programs that buy and generate electricity for residents and businesses.

“This report is intended to help San Joaquin Valley’s policymakers realize the vision of Community Choice Energy as a game-changing jobs-creator and economic powerhouse,” said Ann Hancock, the Center for Climate Protection’s executive director.

The vision is to accelerate the development of large-scale solar installments already in the Central Valley, through directly acquiring utility-scale projects and feed-in-tariffs.

Through the CCE program, Tulare County has the opportunity to generate 2,296 jobs, $231,869,955 in economic output, $37,500,938 in annual local energy spending and create 232 megawatts of solar energy.

“We are pleased to see this study come out as it offers further support that adopting renewables,” said Ismael Herrera, associate director of Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development, “in this case via Community Choice Energy, builds economic strength in the Central Valley.”

Clean Energy Programs Could Bring an Economic Boom, by Staff, Visalia Times-Delta, July 13, 2017.

Community Choice Energy Programs Projected to Generate at Least 8,400 New Jobs and $845 Million in Local Economic Growth in San Joaquin Valley by 2024

A study released recently by the Center for Climate Protection and Fosterra Clean Energy Consulting finds that California’s San Joaquin Valley could enjoy significant economic benefits by establishing Community Choice Energy (CCE) programs and pursuing local renewable energy projects. Looking at three counties—San Joaquin, Fresno, and Tulare Counties—alone, the study estimates that, conservatively, the region could expect to see the addition of approximately 8,400 jobs and $845 million in economic activity from 2019 to 2024, if it were to provide only 10 percent of the region’s electricity needs from local solar.

The full study can be found at

A key finding of the report is that significant local economic benefit is directly correlated with local renewable energy investment. Community Choice Energy agencies introduce choice to customers by bringing competition to a market currently controlled by regulated monopolies.

“This report is intended to help San Joaquin Valley’s policymakers realize the vision of Community Choice Energy as a game-changing jobs-creator and economic powerhouse,” said Ann Hancock, the Center for Climate Protection’s Executive Director.

The report evaluates three potential scenarios of local clean energy purchasing as part of a CCE strategy to increase renewable power supplied to residents in San Joaquin County, Fresno County, and Tulare County. For the purpose of its analysis, the primary clean energy technology was assumed to be solar photovoltaic, and the “local region” included each of the three selected counties, calculated individually and collectively.

Under the most optimistic scenario, where 33 percent of power would be generated locally, 27,600 jobs would be created, with $2.02 billion in economic benefits.

In the San Joaquin Valley, growth of solar power for both utility-scale and smaller commercial and residential projects has been strong. This report finds that CCEs can accelerate the growth of larger-scale solar installations through a variety of strategies, such as direct procurement of utility-scale projects and feed-in-tariffs.

Ismael Herrera, Associate Director of Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development said, “We are pleased to see this study come out as it offers further support that adopting renewables, in this case via Community Choice Energy, builds economic strength in the Central Valley.”

Community Choice Energy programs are local programs that buy and can generate electricity for residents and businesses. Created by state law in 2002, a Community Choice Energy agency has the authority to set rates, develop energy assets, and offer energy efficiency programs, along with other services. The distribution utility, PG&E or SCE in the Central Valley, continues to provide transmission, distribution, grid maintenance, metering, and billing for customers.

There are currently eight operational Community Choice Agencies in California with eight additional ones launching soon. All told, 28 out of the 58 counties and over 300 cities in California are either operational or are in some stage of evaluating Community Choice Energy.

Community Choice Energy programs offer electricity rates that are competitive with investor-owned utilities. In fact, Community Choice rates offered by the Northern California agencies run about two to three percent lower than PG&E’s rates. In the first two years of operation, Sonoma Clean Power customers saved $62 million.

Community Choice programs also provide greener electricity than their investor-owned utility competitors. MCE Clean Energy supplies 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. For Sonoma Clean Power and Lancaster Choice Energy, it is 36 percent. PG&E is at 29.2 percent.

To download a copy of this report, entitled, “Community Choice Energy: What is the Economic Impact of Local Renewable Power Purchasing? A San Joaquin Valley California Case Study” go to:

The Center for Climate Protection is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, June 29 from Noon to 1pm to present the paper’s findings. Panelists will include Ben Foster, the paper’s author, and Ismael Herrera, the Associate Director of Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development. Register here:

About the Center for Climate Protection:
Founded in 2001, the Center for Climate Protection works with business, government, youth, and the broader community to advance practical, science-based solutions for significant greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Center’s mission is to inspire, align, and mobilize action in response to the climate crisis.


Ann Hancock, Executive Director, Center for Climate Protection
707-525-1665, ext. 112 | ann(at)climateprotection(dot)org

Woody Hastings, Renewable Energy Manager, Center for Climate Protection
707-525-1665, ext. 117 I woody(at)climateprotection(dot)org

Ben Foster, President, Fosterra Clean Energy Consulting
646-250-4241 | ben.foster(at)fosterra(dot)com

Center Releases Report on Community Choice and the Economic Impact of Buying Local Renewable Power



Electric Cars Aren’t Just a Big-City Thing. That’s What Put a Charge into This Rural Project

Thirteen free-to-use charging stations for electric vehicles have opened in Fresno County’s rural cities.

Every incorporated city in the county now has a place to charge a car. The latest launch didn’t happen in Fresno or Clovis, both of which already have charging sites.

The new chargers are fueled by photovoltaic solar cells, which are designed to make the devices emissions-free. And, to repeat, there is no charge to use them.

The communities that received charging access: Fowler, Selma, Kingsburg, Reedley, San Joaquin, Kerman, Coalinga, Huron, Parlier, Orange Cove, Mendota, Firebaugh and Sanger. All the stations are at city halls except Fowler’s, which is outside the library, Kerman’s at the city’s Community Center, and Kingsburg’s, which is atht library.

The cost of the project was $800,000. Valley Air District provided $78,000 through the Charge Up! Program, which is funded through local DMV fees. Fresno County Rural Transit Agency paid the remaining balance with a Caltrans grant.

The Valley is one of the fastest growing regions of the state for sales of electric vehicles, said John Boesel, chief executive officer for CALSTART, a clean transportation technology industry organization.

“It’s the first rural county in the nation to develop a network of solar-powered electric-vehicle chargers,” he said.

Boesel said demand for the chargers in rural communities already exists: “Before today’s event, people were pulling up to power their cars.”

The project is a cooperative effort of CALSTART, Valley Air District, Fresno County Rural Transit Agency, the California Energy Commission, Caltrans and Envision Solar.

Electric Cars Aren’t Just a Big-City Thing. That’s What Put a Charge into This Rural Project, by Marc Benjamin, The Fresno Bee, May 24, 2017.

Kings Largest Solar Farm Proposed

An application to build a 2,527 acre, 250-megawatt solar farm is being processed by Kings County. It would be the largest photovoltaic project in the county.

Called Westlands Aquamarine, the plan being proposed by the company, Westland Solar Park, is south of the Avenal Cutoff on the north side of Laurel, both east and west of 25th Avenue.

The big project is the first to move to the permit stage in what the applicant has predicted will be the largest master-planned clean energy park in the U.S. with more than 20,000 acres of drainage-impaired farmland designated for the development of solar energy and storage generation. Virtually all of the land in this part of Kings County is in the Westland Water District and slated to be retired due to high salinity and selenium contamination.

So far Westland Solar Park has built a ”demonstration” 2MW facility with power being sold to the city of Anaheim. They are working to construct another 20MW solar farm in the area as well.

But this latest application is a major step-up to the mega-solar project level – one of many expected to be built here at the crossroads of the California grid system near I-5. Westlands Aquamarine could be operational by 2020.

This past week the Kings County Board of Supervisors signed an agreement for indemnification for the county and reimbursement of extraordinary costs with Westlands Aquamarine LLC relating to a conditional use permit for their commercial solar energy facility.

Westland Solar Park representative Josh Martin says California is moving to more renewables, fueled not just by policy but by a dramatic lowering of costs to build the modules that “will benefit not just this part of the state but all the ratepayers.”

Investors in the Westland Solar Park, about a decade in the planning, now include the capital firm CIM, which joined the project in 2014, and founders, Westside Assets of Visalia. WSP has estimated the rural industrial park could develop up to 2,000 megawatts, equivalent to Diablo Canyon’s nuclear power plant’s output, now being retired.

In presentations to developers, utilities and regulators, the investment team has made the case that the location and setting for the project makes sense in part because the solar resource is abundant, the state grid system passes through nearby and there are fewer impacts to species, unlike the state’s desert regions. With so much of Westlands Water District no longer fit to farm it is no wonder that this sprawling district may see 6,500MW of solar projects in coming years.

The big water district is working to publish a draft of a major project EIR, in the works now for two years.

The latest solar project count in Kings County is impressive, at 1,424MW of planned solar projects on 14,000 acres built or undergoing permitting through April of this year.

Kings Largest Solar Farm Proposed, by John Lindt, The Sentinel, May 4, 2017.

Central Valley Invests in Clean Buses, Clean Air

In California, we’re headed toward a clean transportation future — and our buses are helping take us there.

Across the state, millions of Californians depend on buses operated by more than 100 public transit districts to get to work, school, medical appointments, houses of worship, and recreational activities. One state policy is giving transit providers throughout the state a helping hand in ensuring a smooth ride for passengers: the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). In fact, LCFS has emerged as one of California’s top tools to bring zero-emission electric vehicles to disadvantaged communities, in the form of affordable transit service.

 Here in the Central Valley, the San Joaquin Regional Transit District operates a fleet of 130 buses and serves four million riders per year in Stockton and beyond, while Visalia Transit has a fleet of 84 buses and transports 1.6 million riders annually. Both transit agencies have taken advantage of LCFS to begin shifting toward cleaner fleets. RTD currently has two all-electric buses in service and anticipates having 17 in operation by next year. More than two-thirds of Visalia Transit’s bus fleet operates on natural gas as it shifts towards a cleaner fleet.

LCFS, approved in 2009 and most recently readopted in 2015, is on track to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020. Statewide, LCFS has resulted in $1.6 billion in avoided public health impacts while helping Californians avoid the unnecessary use of 6.6 billion gallons of petroleum.

The benefits of cleaner public transit, encouraged by LCFS, are many. Clean buses improve local air quality and reduce harmful transportation pollution for everyone, even those who don’t ride the bus. The transportation sector alone is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 80 percent of smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions, and 95 percent of particulate matter emissions that cause cancer and other lung and heart diseases. Our region’s struggles with air pollution are well known and continue to pose a threat to our well-being. We are proud to serve a ridership that is predominantly low-income and majority Latino. This means LCFS provides cleaner air for everyone, and gives transit options to some of the most disadvantaged residents in our communities.

For transit providers, LCFS credits help offset operating costs. It’s invaluable because other regional, state, or federal funds are generally limited to capital costs. Visalia Transit alone has saved $150,000 per year on fuel thanks to LCFS. Without this program, the agency would face an additional 10 to 15 percent in fuel costs, which might force the agency to make some tough decisions. Visalia Transit provides several popular routes including the V-Line, which connects Fresno to Visalia with stops at Fresno State, the Fresno and Visalia airports, and downtown Fresno. Another popular route brings visitors to experience the wonder of Sequoia National Park. RTD is planning to launch an electrified Stockton bus rapid transit route with 10- to 15-minute headways. At the downtown transit center, drivers can fully charge buses in less than 10 minutes. Passengers like that these buses are quiet and zero-emission — and since LCFS has prevented 23 million tons of carbon pollution statewide, we’re doing our part on climate change, too.

Without policies like LCFS, our current level of service with clean vehicles wouldn’t be possible. When policymakers affirm their support for effective policies like LCFS, it contributes to a climate of certainty that helps transit agencies do effective long-range planning.

LCFS is giving us the tools to tackle air pollution and improve public health while supporting good California jobs. As the fuel standard has inspired a 36 percent uptick in the use of clean fuels statewide, it’s undoubtedly getting the job done. Connecting our communities and providing top-notch service is our priority, and that’s why we support and depend on the Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

— Donna DeMartino is CEO and general manager of San Joaquin Regional Transit District. Mario Cifuentez is interim transit manager of Visalia Transit.

Central Valley Invests in Clean Buses, Clean Air, by Donna DeMartino and Mario Cifuentez, The Record, May 3, 2017.

Light of the World: SJ churches embrace solar power

STOCKTON — The flowers in the garden at Church of the Presentation in north Stockton are as colorful as ever, but it’s the deep blue solar panels atop the church’s red-tile roof that might surprise visitors these days.

Presentation is the latest local faith community to go solar, with a 535-panel system that could virtually eliminate an energy bill that now tops $67,000 per year.

The money that used to go to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will instead pay for other needed improvements at the church and adjacent school, as well as for various ministry efforts.

“It’s amazing how this thing called the sun can make all the electricity that we need to live on,” Mark Gaff, Presentation’s director of facilities, said as he showed off the new system on Thursday.

“It’s going to be really cool,” he said.

From First Baptist Church of Lodi, to the Islamic Center of Manteca, more and more places of worship in San Joaquin County are installing solar systems.

The list also includes First Baptist Church of Stockton and Quail Lakes Baptist Church, two other large Stockton churches that chose to build rows of solar carports across portions of their parking lots.

At least 130 congregations statewide have embraced solar power, according to the California branch of Interfaith Power & Light. But there may be many more that the nonprofit organization, which promotes environmental sustainability as a tenet of faith and assists churcheswith making the transition, doesn’t even know about.

“We have many congregations doing it and even more looking into it,” said Susan Stephenson, the group’s California director. “We get calls, probably weekly, from congregations wanting us to help them figure out financing, which is probably the biggest barrier.”

Indeed it is. While solar power sounds great for nonprofit churches pinched by tight operating budgets, the churches are tax-exempt and therefore don’t qualify for the tax rebates that make solar cheaper for homes and businesses.

At Presentation, the solution was to enter into a power purchase agreement with a private company, El Dorado Hills-based K12 Solar. The company owns the panels, receives the tax break, and passes on those savings to Presentation through a lower power rate per kilowatt hour.

The church took out a loan and put money down upfront to secure an even lower rate, but in seven years that loan will be paid off and all of the church’s energy savings will be available for other uses.

Going solar wasn’t solely a financial decision, said Bill Loyko, a parishioner who serves on Presentation’s finance committee.

“It’s this whole idea of being good stewards,” he said. “If we look at what we’ve been given, it also means this Earth that we have and live in. Anything we can do to care for it, to be more kind, to put less pollution in the air, that’s what everybody’s looking for.”

Quail Lakes Baptist Church acquired its solar panels earlier this year from the same company under a similar agreement, after months of careful research. The church went with carports instead of rooftop panels, because the roofs on its church buildings are 20 to 30 years old, said Fred Hammond, executive director of operations.

A monitor in the foyer tells members of the congregation how much power they’ve saved and the environmental benefits.

“It’s just to show we’re trying to be a responsible part of the community,” Hammond said. “It works for us, and it works for the environment.”

The Islamic Center of Manteca raised enough money in a single prayer sitting to buy outright a smaller system of about 70 rooftop panels. Members were asked to consider sponsoring a panel or two, and that very day, the money had been committed, said Mohammad Elfarra, the center’s imam or prayer leader.

The panels went up in early 2016.

“We were all behind it, for the generations after us not to be burdened by an electric bill, but also because it’s good for the environment,” he said. “We’re supposed to be custodians of the Earth.”

Or, as the Quran says, “When doomsday comes, if someone has a palm shoot in his hand, he should plant it.”

Light of the World: SJ churches embrace solar power, by Alex Breitler, The Record, April 20, 2017.

Earth Day: Improving Air, Water Is ‘Urgent Necessity’

Earth Day, the world’s largest secular holiday and the only event celebrated by more than a half-billion people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities, is sponsored by many national and international organizations.

In his official proclamation, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand cited the following reasons for declaring Saturday, April 22, Earth Day in Fresno:

“Earth Day, begun as an annual event on April 22, 1970, focused public attention on pollution and environmental concerns and made the hitherto esoteric term ‘ecology’ a household word. Many national organizations are celebrating it with outreach programs showcasing the positive contributions that environmental science makes to improve the health of our planet and it’s citizens; Earth Day community-sponsored events promoting environmental awareness and education are held to communicate with a wide audience in the San Joaquin Valley; and improving the Valley’s air and water quality is an urgent necessity.”

Donald Trump’s inconsistent, idiotic actions days in office and extensive contacts with Wall Street and the military leave us with little hope for the environment.

However, if Earth Day raises our consciousness of our obligations to the planet, results in a balanced view of our responsibilities to the fragile ecosystem, and makes us aware of the crucial importance of governmental policies on the environment, it should have a positive effect.


Earth Day: Improving Air, Water Is ‘Urgent Necessity’, by George Kauffman, The Fresno Bee, April 19, 2017.

CPUC to Hold May 11 Voting Meeting in Merced

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold its May 11, 2017, Voting Meeting in Merced. The agenda for the meeting includes items on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) rate case, and on the CPUC’s efforts to identify disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley and determine options to increase access to affordable energy in those communities.

WHEN: Thursday, May 11, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Merced Civic Center, Council Chambers, 678 W. 18th St., Merced; also available via listen-only call-in number at 1-800-857-1917, passcode 92105

WHAT: The CPUC’s Commissioners will discuss and vote on proposed policies, including PG&E’s General Rate Case, which forms the basis of customer rates for 2017-2019; and options to increase access to affordable energy in San Joaquin Valley disadvantaged communities.

The Voting Meeting begins with public comment, and members of the public are encouraged to attend. Those intending to make public comment can sign-up to speak in person before the meeting starts, or can sign-up online in advance at

The CPUC’s Rules for Public Comment, the Voting Meeting Agenda, a list of items that will be held over to a different meeting, presentations, remote access, and other information will be available on

The CPUC typically holds Voting Meetings twice a month at its headquarters in San Francisco, and also schedules Voting Meetings in other cities throughout the state. In addition, the CPUC holds many Public Participation Hearings and other events statewide in order to reach out to consumers.

If specialized accommodations are needed to attend, such as sign language interpreters, please contact the CPUC’s Public Advisor’s Office at or toll free at 866-849- 8390 at least three business days in advance.

To receive electronic updates on CPUC proceedings, sign-up for the CPUC’s free subscription service at

The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy.

For more information on the CPUC, please visit


CPUC to Hold May 11 Voting Meeting in MercedPublic Now, April 17, 2017.

CARB Green-Lights Clean Air Efforts with Next-Gen Vehicles, Fuels

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has formally approved two climate and air quality efforts, including a suite of actions to deploy the next generation of clean vehicles, equipment and fuels.

In the first action, CARB approved the State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan (State SIP Strategy), which describes the board’s commitment for further reducing vehicle emissions needed to meet federal air quality standards over the next 15 years. In addition, the board also approved the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s comprehensive air quality plan.

As reported, CARB directed staff to report annually on progress on implementation of the SIP Strategy, including recommendations on additional funding, as well as direction to expedite implementation where possible.

“Today’s action builds upon California’s efforts over the last 50 years and sets the stage for a range of actions into the next decade,” says CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “We look forward to continuing California’s air quality leadership, working with our federal and local partners to provide the pathway to cleaner air, along with a vibrant economy.”

According to CARB, the State SIP Strategy maps out a comprehensive suite of actions to deploy the next generation of clean vehicles, equipment and fuels, including a portfolio of new engine standards for cars and trucks and the durability and inspection requirements to ensure these vehicles remain clean over their lifetime. The strategy also includes enhanced deployment of zero-emission technologies, cleaner-burning fuels, and innovative pilot and incentive programs to accelerate the deployment of this cleaner technology.

In parallel to actions at the state level, CARB will continue to call for strong federal action to develop more stringent engine standards for cars, trucks, ships, aircraft and locomotives.

These advanced technologies will help transform and clean up California’s transportation system, providing important public health benefits, especially in the South Coast and the San Joaquin Valley, the two regions of the state with the greatest air quality challenges. The cleaner technologies will also deliver significant reductions in greenhouse-gas and toxic diesel particulate matter emissions that are essential to meeting California’s climate, air quality and risk reduction goals.

The South Coast’s Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) is a comprehensive road map for meeting ozone and fine particulate matter standards in both the South Coast region and the Coachella Valley. In conjunction with state actions to reduce mobile source emissions, the South Coast AQMP includes a broad spectrum of measures to transition residential and commercial homes and buildings to cleaner energy sources, from electrification and fuel cells to solar power.

Further, the district’s plan also contains important actions to achieve further reductions of pollutants from large industrial facilities, such as refineries and power plants. Attaining federal air quality standards will provide significant public health protection for the 17 million residents who live in the region, estimated by the district to total $173 billion in cumulative health benefits between today and 2031.

CARB Green-Lights Clean Air Efforts with Next-Gen Vehicles, Fuels, by Lauren Tyler, Next-Gen Transportation, March 24, 2017.