GBUAPCD Accepting Comments on Solar Project

THE GREAT BASIN UNIFIED AIR POLLUTION CONTROL DISTRICT REQUESTS PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE DISTRICTS DECISION TO ALLOW CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION OF A FOUR ACRE SOLAR PROJECT

Pursuant to District Rule 205, the District solicits public comment on proposed Authority to Construct to be granted to Coso Energy Developers for a four acre solar power generation facility within the Coso Known Geothermal Resource Area off Gill Station Coso Road, East of Hwy 395, Inyo County, CA.

Proposed permit conditions and supporting documents are available for inspection at the District office. The facility will be constructed in compliance with all district, state and federal air quality standards and regulations.

The District will accept written comments in its office until the close of business on April 10, 2017. Submit comments to: The Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, 157 Short Street, Bishop, California 93514.

GBUAPCD Accepting Comments on Solar ProjectSierraWave, March 13, 2017.

Let the Sun Shine! Visitor Center in Lone Pine Turns on Solar System

The Inyo National Forest is pleased to announce that the solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine was turned on in December. This system should meet nearly 100% of the facility’s electrical demand.

“The solar photovoltaic system installation at the visitor center in Lone Pine exemplifies the Forest Service’s commitment to leading by example,” said Nora Gamino, Acting Forest Engineer. “This is one of several projects underway on the Inyo National Forest that demonstrate our dedication to sustainable practices.”

This project directly supports energy reduction and net zero goals specified in the Energy Policy Act (2005), Energy Independence and Security Act (2007), and Executive Order 13693 (Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade).

The Forest Service has committed to achieving net zero energy, water, or waste at 30 facilities over 5,000 Gross Square Feet by 2025. Given that the system will offset nearly 100% of the facility’s electrical demand, the agency is now one facility closer to meeting its goal.

The agency’s Net Zero Network encourages projects at Visitor Centers, which are not only some of our largest energy-consuming facilities, but also provide educational opportunities for those recreating on National Forest System land.

Other notable projects on the Inyo National Forest include the installation of the PV systems at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center, which is completely off the grid and received Gold Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Let the Sun Shine! Visitor Center in Lone Pine Turns on Solar System, by News Staff, Sierra Wave, January 11, 2017.

PG&E to Withdraw Relicense Application for DeSabla-Centerville Hydroelectric Facility in Butte County

CHICO, Calif. February 2, 2017 – Reflecting California’s changing energy landscape and rising operating costs at the DeSabla-Centerville hydroelectric facility in Butte County, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced today that it will withdraw its application for a new license for the facility from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

PG&E’s withdrawal of the application, expected in mid-February, will start a process led by FERC to determine the future of the small hydroelectric facility. PG&E will request FERC initiate its “orphan project” process, which would allow for other qualified entities to apply for a license to operate the facility in the future. The FERC process could take 5-10 years.

“PG&E recognizes the importance of the DeSabla-Centerville facility to the local communities, including its role in supporting environmental resources, meeting the needs of farms and other water users, and providing public recreation. We will continue to focus on the safe and environmentally friendly operation of the facility under existing license conditions as FERC moves forward with its process,” said Debbie Powell, senior director of power generation operations at PG&E.

PG&E made this decision as the DeSabla-Centerville facility is no longer economically viable for PG&E’s electric customers. This is due to renewable energy markets becoming increasingly more competitive, customer demand from PG&E declining due to customer-owned solar and community choice aggregation programs, and increasingly costly regulatory requirements to operate the hydroelectric facility.

Other entities may be able to generate power more economically at DeSabla-Centerville due to potential differences in financing mechanisms and business models.  PG&E is supportive of qualified entities filing for a FERC license to operate DeSabla-Centerville.

Any new owner would be required to obtain a FERC license and be bound by license condition requirements, including protections for fisheries, notably the salmon population in Butte Creek. Also, should FERC choose a decommissioning path for the facility, any decommissioning plan would have to follow all FERC requirements.

The DeSabla-Centerville facility includes the DeSabla, Toadtown, and Centerville powerhouses, the DeSabla, Philbrook and Round Valley reservoirs, and canals and flumes in the foothills and mountains of Butte County.

The facilities were initially developed in the early 20th century by predecessor companies later acquired by PG&E. Some of DeSabla-Centerville’s canals and flumes stem from the Gold Rush era.

PG&E to Withdraw Relicense Application for DeSabla-Centerville Hydroelectric Facility in Butte County, by Paul Moreno, YubaNet.com, February 2, 2017.

Sierra Nevada Brewery Installs 1 MWh Tesla Powerpack System

The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is using a bunch of Tesla batteries, along with solar power and a microturbine generator, to help make beer brewing more environmentally friendly at its Chico, California facility.

The company has installed a 1MWh Tesla Powerpack battery system, taking power from an existing 10,751-panel, two-megawatt solar installation — the largest owned by any US brewery — and a two megawatt microturbine. In all, the setup allows Sierra Nevada to offset around 20 percent of its yearly electricity use.

Tesla Powerpacks installed at the Sierra Nevada Brewing facility.  Photo: Sierra Nevada

In addition to making cars (and the batteries for cars), Tesla also builds stationary power products for utilities, homes, and commercial applications. The Powerpacks are battery systems designed for utilities and businesses. The Powerwall is the residential version, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes energy storage could have a “super-exponential growth rate” well in excess of the growth in the car business. Both Powerwalls and Powerpacks are assembled at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

The beer-brewing process uses a lot of electricity, heating and cooling batches of water and beer over several weeks of production. Big industrial operations like Sierra Nevada pay for electricity both on overall use as well as peak usage over the course of a month — and anything companies can do to reduce that peak use can result in significant cost savings.

The Tesla Powerpack system that Sierra Nevada installed can output up to 500 kilowatts of power, allowing the brewery to shave significant amounts off its peak usage during the beer-making process. Tesla’s software allows its batteries to charge when demand is low, then discharge when demand at the brewery is beginning to spike. Tesla says the software does not require any connection to Sierra Nevada’s systems, instead learning demand trends and adapting as necessary.

Sierra Nevada isn’t the only brewery to install Tesla’s power storage systems. Tesla tells The Verge that the Maui Brewing Company in Hawaii is installing Powerpacks to store solar-generated electricity for use overnight, and most of the time the facility will be able to generate all its own power.

Other Tesla power storage installations include a 20 megawatt / 80MWh Powerpack system being installed in Ontario, California for California Edison, and another solar / battery system is powering the entire island of Ta’u in American Samoa.

Sierra Nevada Brewery Installs 1 MWh Tesla Powerpack System, by Jordan Golson, The Verge, January 17, 2017.

California College Students Get Hands-On Training at LFGTE Facility

More than 25 local students from Sierra College in Roseville, Calif., got hands-on training for jobs at the Energy 2001 Renewable Energy Center—a partnership between the college, the Western Placer Waste Management Authority (WPWMA), and local green power producer Energy 2001.

“This unique public/private partnership is a classic example of how business, government, and Sierra College work together to benefit our communities, the local economy, and students,” Sierra College President William Duncan said in a statement. “By giving these students hands on ‘real world’ experience they become valuable in-demand employees as they enter the labor market.”

Launched by in 2015, the Energy 2001’s Renewable Energy Center has enabled students from Sierra College’s Energy Technology Program to spend a semester constructing ground-mounted commercial solar arrays adjacent to the Energy 2001 Landfill Gas Power Plant that is housed at the WPWMA’s Western Regional Sanitary Landfill. The project has become part of Sierra College’s Advanced Solar Class, taught by energy Professor Steve Geiger.

Constructed with in-kind assistance from Placer County based Brower Mechanical and SMR Inc., the new arrays are being used to help power WPWMA’s Blower Flare Station (BFS)—a system which collects landfill gases and supplies them to engines that convert these gases into electricity at Energy 2001’s 5MW Power Plant. By helping to power its BFS from the student-constructed solar arrays, WPWMA will be saving $.04 per kWh over what it would otherwise be paying PG&E—savings that are ultimately passed along to landfill ratepayers.

“In meeting the WPWMA’s responsibility to be good stewards of the environment, we are producing a growing supply of renewable energy at no additional cost to our ratepayers while helping Sierra College students access the training they need to win the good paying jobs of tomorrow,” Placer County District 1 Supervisor and WPWMA Board member Jack Duran said in a statement. “This Renewable Energy Center is a model public-private partnership that I hope other communities will seek to emulate.”

Energy 2001, which organized the partnership and underwrites the cost of all materials and land for use by Sierra College students, has been operating power generation facilities at the WRSL since 2004. Through its landfill gas (converting the gases from decomposing garbage into energy) power plant, it annually produces enough electricity from to power over 3,000 homes and businesses, and remits a portion of its revenue from power sales back to WPWMA.

California College Students Get Hands-On Training at LFGTE Facility, by Staff, Waste360, Dec 01, 2016

Inyo County Receives Award for Solar-Energy Growth

Press release

SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, has recognized Inyo County as second in the nation for taking important first steps to encourage solar energy for homes and businesses.

As a SolSmart Bronze designee, Inyo County is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper for homes and businesses to go solar.

Inyo County has been a leader in renewable energy planning in California. Inyo County’s award-winning Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) identifies Solar Energy Development Areas (SEDA) where large-scale solar energy facilities may be considered for siting, based on site-specific studies and environmental review.

The County prepared an Environmental Impact Report to evaluate the overall environmental consequences of the REGPA. Public process was key in developing a Plan that had public support. The Plan encourages small-scale solar energy facilities.

To achieve designation, Inyo County took steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.

Through the Department of Energy’s Sun Shot – Roadmap Inyo County deployed a program to encourage small solar energy systems and energy efficiency for local residents and businesses.

The County developed an expedited permitting process for small-scale solar energy systems and institutes a small-scale solar-friendly zoning ordinance. In cooperation with Southern California Edison (SCE), the County updated its General Plan to incorporate energy efficiency goals, policies, and implementation measures.

Also in cooperation with SCE, the County has prepared an Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund program, and is seeking seed funds to implement. For more information about the County’s renewable energy program, visit http://inyoplanning.org/ERRE.htm.

Looking towards the future, the County hopes to further encourage building a network of local contractors to develop small-scale solar and energy efficiency projects.

The County also is strategizing to work with the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to better incentivize small-scale solar and energy efficiency in the Owens Valley. In addition to following up on its work on the Sun Shot Initiative and the SolSmart program, the County also is beginning to analyze Community Choice Aggregation opportunities, which would encourage local community renewable energy generation and procurment.

The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association, evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to going solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed either gold, silver, or bronze. As a bronze designee, Inyo County will now have the opportunity earn additional points to qualify as silver or gold.

As part of the SolSmart program, all participating communities are eligible to request no-cost technical assistance from a team of national solar experts to help them achieve designation. The SolSmart technical assistance team is led by The Solar Foundation.
Launched in April 2016, SolSmart aims to designate 300 communities during the three-year, federally funded program.

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About SolSmart

SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.

About the SunShot Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade.

Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.

Inyo County Receives Award for Solar-Energy Growth, by News Staff, Sierra Wave Media, December 11, 2016.

Nevada County eligible homeowners: Want to go solar, replace HVAC, windows, doors?

NEVADA CITY, Calif. November 16, 2016 – Tina Vernon, Nevada County’s Treasurer & Tax Collector is excited to announce that the mPower Nevada County PACE program opens up November 18, 2016! PACE, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy is a program that authorizes a local government to provide upfront funding to eligible property owners to finance the installation of energy efficient and water conservation improvements and renewable energy systems on their property. The amount financed is amortized and the annual amount due is added to the property tax bill each year, due in two installments, until paid in full. This program is 100% voluntary.

residental-improvementsAll property owners of residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, or multi-family residential (5 units or more) in Nevada County’s incorporated cities or towns, or the unincorporated areas of Nevada County who also receive a secured property tax bill are eligible to apply. To qualify for funding, some of the requirements that will need to be met are:

  • Applicant must be the legal owner of the property described in the application or have the authority to encumber the property.

  • Property taxes are current with no notices of default within the last 3 years.

  • Property owner is current on mortgages with no notice of default within the last 5 years.

  • Property owner has not been subject to bankruptcy within the last 5 years.

  • Property must not be subject to any involuntary liens.

  • There are no recorded easements or covenants prohibiting the improvement.

  • For non-residential properties the current mortgage lender(s) has/have given consent for the MPOWER financing.

PACE energy projects can include a wide variety of energy saving upgrades from solar systems to high efficiency HVAC systems to double paned windows and doors, to name a few. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Potential for lower utility bills with increased energy efficient appliances and systems
  • Improvements to property can be made with no or low up-front costs and can be financed over an extended period of time (up to 20 years).
  • PACE improvements often increase property value at time of sale
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Increase number of local jobs
  • Local contractor marketing through PACE projects marketing
  • Contractor workforce training provided by PACE programs
  • Increased Energy Efficiency (EE) and Renewable generation reduces Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and reduces our dependency on fossil fuels

Nevada County first looked at the PACE program in 2009 and discovered that we would be too small to administer our own program. But now, through a partnership with PLACER County’s mPower program, PACE is now available countywide! Please visit mPower Placer’s website at www.mpoweradvantage.net to take advantage of this great program.

Nevada County eligible homeowners: Want to go solar, replace HVAC, windows, doors?, by Tina M. Vernon, YubaNet, November 16, 2016.

Butte Supervisors OK Preliminary Budget, Look into New Radio System, Selling Energy

Butte County Supervisors are exploring Community Choice Aggregation as an alternative to their incumbent utility, PG&E .

“Staff have been following nine communities in different stages of CCA formation. In Yolo County, there has been an 8.7 percent cost saving over PG&E, she said. McCarthy recommended the board give the go-ahead to have a technical study conducted, which would nail down the cost, potential risk and structure.”

Butte Supervisors OK Preliminary Budget, Look into New Radio System, Selling Energy, by Risa Johnson, Oroville Mercury Register, June 14, 2016.

Grid Alternatives Solar Program for Low-Income Families Expands

Chico >> Many area resident are now eligible for a program that will install free solar panels on their homes.

Nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives can provide solar power at no cost for up to 15 low-income homeowners in Chico.

Oroville and Thermalito also have a GRID program for low-income families interested in solar. Residents are invited to attend the workshop for more information.

The Solar Affordable Housing Program in Chico is supported by city Community Development Block Grant funding. The entire program will provide families with about $450,000 in electricity savings during the lifetime of the system, as well as prevent 900 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

GRID is hosting two free informational workshops this fall to find out who is eligible for the program. The first is 7-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Dorothy Johnson Center, 775 East 16th St., Chico.

Those who discover they are not eligible can still benefit from the workshop, which will cover energy efficiency and include refreshments and free home energy savers packages.

The program accepts families who are eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis. If the maximum is reached, those families will be added to a waiting list.

For questions or to RSVP, contact Sanja Cerni at 217-6116.

EXPANSION

The Solar Affordable Housing Program expanded this year because statewide funding eligibility changed to include certain neighborhoods in the city. This includes those in South Chico, The Avenues and Chapmantown, according to GRID Alternatives North Valley spokeswoman Rebekah Casey. Before, eligibility was restricted to just those who lived in qualified affordable housing.

The program will operate in conjunction with the city’s housing rehabilitation program, Casey said. Five families in need of minor roof repair will receive roof work with the solar installation.

GRID Alternatives’ goal is to install a solar unit that can cover 85 percent of the electricity bill, Casey said, saving low-income families money.

“There’s a lot of people that I think are working really hard that could use something like this,” Casey said. “This is a really exciting program in that it helps a segment of the community that there’s not a lot of resources for.”

Grid Alternatives Solar Program for Low-Income Families Expands, by Ashiah Scharaga, Chico Enterprise-Record, September 19, 2016.

Butte Co. Lays the Groundwork for Large Scale Solar Facilities

OROVILLE, Calif. – Butte County is looking for input on its plans to lay the groundwork for large scale solar facilities that would feed electricity directly to a utility.

The county is hosting three public workshops to get public input on where to declare Solar Overlay Zones. The zones could measure from 10 acres to several hundred acres.

The program is called the PowerButte Solar Overlay Zone. PowerButte is a grant funded Butte County initiative to encourage large scale solar energy development in suitable locations in Butte County.

The county will introduce potential locations for the proposed Solar Overlay Zone.

While this use is currently already allowed in Butte County through a lengthy permit process, siting these facilities has been difficult due to numerous environmental, cultural, and community constraints. The Solar Overlay Zone is a way to help site facilities in areas of the county that will avoid problems and simplify and shorten the permit process.

The areas indicated in the green on the map are the most suitable for the overlay zone, and comprise about 8,600 acres.

The areas in yellow are suitable, and comprise 175,000 acres.

“This is the wave of the future for the state,” said Breedon. “We see that happening in many places and homeowners are making their own decisions to install solar on their rooftops.”

Dan Breedon of Butte County Department of Development Services said they do not anticipate all of the most suitable areas being developed with utility scale solar.

Breedon explained, the overlay will likely be larger than what is needed, to provide more choices. Development within the overlay will be voluntary on the part of the landowner. The county will not be developing solar facilities.

Breedon said that property owners will get a certain amount of money each month. The amount of money has not been finalized.

Breedon also said that neighborhoods could benefit as well. If a property owner within a community chose to have solar overlay installed on his or her property, the county plans to set up a benefits package for the entire community.

The benefit package would allocate certain county money to that community for local improvements.

Breedon hopes that by 2018, installation will begin.

Butte Co. Lays the Groundwork for Large Scale Solar Facilities, by Kelli Saam, KRCR News, July 14, 2016.