Sonoma Clean Power Seeks Pilot Homes for Energy-Efficiency Program

Sonoma Clean Power Offers No-Cost Energy Upgrades to Eligible Homes and Businesses – SCP Seeks Participants for Study on Energy-Saving Technology

 

(SANTA ROSA, CA) – Sonoma Clean Power, the public electricity provider for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, is launching a new study on energy-saving technology and is currently recruiting participants to receive no-cost upgrades and provide feedback.

The newly launched Lead Locally program, funded through a grant from the California Energy Commission with additional support from SCP, aims to develop strategies to double energy efficiency in existing buildings. In this first phase of the program, the Lead Locally team is studying installing innovative energy-saving equipment in SCP customer homes and businesses.

“SCP wants to build a cleaner energy future for our community. The Lead Locally program will evaluate the best technologies to help meet our community’s energy efficiency goals, and now we’re asking our customers to get involved,” said Chad Asay, Lead Locally Program Manager.

The upgrades studied under the Lead Locally program are valued at $5,000 or more, and will be installed at no cost. The team is currently recruiting homeowners to receive upgrades to their attic insulation, or their heating and cooling system. In the future, SCP will recruit additional homeowners and businesses to test appliances, lighting, and water heating.

To participate, customers can visit SonomaCleanPower.org and visit the Lead Locally program page:  https://sonomacleanpower.org/programs/lead-locally to submit a participation request. This will be used to screen for technology-specific eligibility criteria, and will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants must be willing to allow energy usage monitoring and to complete quarterly satisfaction surveys for 12 to 18 months.

Participant feedback will be used to confirm that these technologies will work well for the SCP community, provide insight into best practices for installers, and guide future energy-saving programs. In the future, the Lead Locally program will open a physical Energy Marketplace in downtown Santa Rosa, CA, where the public will be able to learn about, test and purchase these energy-saving technologies.

 

About Sonoma Clean Power

Sonoma Clean Power is proud to serve the counties of Sonoma and Mendocino, as a self-funded, public electricity provider. Climate change affects everyone, so our programs are designed for everyone. SCP’s services are practical, affordable and inclusive, inviting everyone to be part of the transition toward a clean energy future. To learn more, visit sonomacleanpower.org or call 1 (855) 202-2139.

# # #

Kate Kelly, Director of Public Affairs/Sonoma Clean Power

kkelly@sonomacleanpower.org | 707.978.3468

Alameda County is officially powered by East Bay Community Energy

East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) is now the official electricity provider for Alameda County*, soon serving over 1.5 million people! EBCE joins the ranks of nearly 20 public, non-profit Community Choice energy agencies now serving residents and businesses across California.

Thanks to years of organizing by the East Bay Clean Power Alliance, a project of the Local Clean Energy Alliance, EBCE is the only Community Choice energy agency to launch with a genuine roadmap to ensuring community benefits through developing local clean energy resources: the Local Development Business Plan.

Jessica Tovar of Local Clean Energy Alliance

EBCE launched for residential customers on November 1st, following the launch for municipal and commercial customers in June.

The Local Clean Energy Alliance is gearing up curriculum for further advocacy on Early Actions for Local Clean Energy Development.  We are prioritizing projects and programs that have potential of bringing clean energy benefits to low-income communities, people of color and all household-residential ratepayers–communities traditionally shut out of the clean energy economy.

 

*Note: EBCE serves all residents and businesses in Alameda County, excluding the cities of Alameda, Pleasanton, and Newark.

EDF Renewables signs PPAs with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power

EDF Renewables North America announced the signing of two 20-year PPAs for the 128 MWac with 40 MW/160 MWh battery storage Big Beau Solar+Storage Project in Kern County, California. Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) will purchase 55% of the output, and Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) will purchase 45%. The Project is slated to achieve commercial operation by the end of 2021.

SVCE and MBCP jointly launched a competitive procurement process in September 2017 to take advantage of economies of scale for the combined four county service territory. This unique collaboration between these two Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) allowed for more purchasing power to better-source cost-effective, clean electricity for their communities.

“We are excited to bring online a new California solar+storage project with SVCE and EDF Renewables,” said Tom Habashi, CEO of Monterey Bay Community Power. “Solar development has been a hallmark of California’s renewable energy boom and with the storage component, we can realize the full potential of solar generation.”

“We are delivering on our commitment to our customers to provide reliable, renewable energy that will help us reach our decarbonization goals,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of Silicon Valley Clean Energy. “This long-term agreement with EDF Renewables for solar-plus-storage shows that as a CCA we have the financial stability to make investments in these kinds of innovative renewable projects.”

“EDF Renewables is pleased to be selected by SVCE and MBCP—two forward-thinking CCAs to supply affordable, in-state green energy to their customers. The inclusion of storage provides the agencies with a 100% clean and partially dispatchable product, allowing them to mitigate the ‘duck curve’ risk and monetize price spikes,” said Valerie Barros, director of renewables and storage product development at EDF Renewables.

The electricity generated at full capacity is enough to meet the consumption of up to 64,000 average California homes. This is equivalent to avoiding more than 315,000 metric tons of CO emissions annually [1] which represents the greenhouse gas emissions from 67,000 passenger vehicles driven over the course of one year.

[1] According to US EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculations.

News item from EDF Renewables

 

EDF Renewables signs PPAs with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power, by Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World, November 8, 2018.

 

Alameda County’s New Electricity Provider: East Bay Community Energy Launches Clean Electricity to Residential Customers

Alameda County, CA – Alameda County residents living in the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Piedmont, Oakland, San Leandro, Union City as well as unincorporated areas of the county have a new electricity provider as East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) launches its clean energy services throughout November. EBCE serves more than 500,000 accounts across the county, which represent a population of nearly 1.4 million people. Customers are automatically enrolled in the service based on their local city council or board of supervisors joining the EBCE program.

The residential launch marks a major milestone for Alameda County, as customers now enjoy a greener, lower cost choice for electricity. As one of the state’s newest and largest Community Choice Energy providers, EBCE is governed by a board of local elected officials and its meetings are open to the public. EBCE’s mission is to provide higher percentages of renewable and carbon-free energy compared to PG&E at competitive rates. EBCE will also invest in local energy-related programs within its participating communities.

“Residents of Alameda County and our 11 partner cities can now power their homes with cleaner energy. We are committed to building a sustainable East Bay for years to come,” says Nick Chaset, Chief Executive Officer of EBCE.

Residents have a choice between three EBCE services: Bright Choice, Brilliant 100, and Renewable 100. The standard service, Bright Choice, offers customers a 1.5% discount compared to their PG&E rate while receiving 5% more renewable energy. Customers can also choose Brilliant 100, which provides 100% carbon-free service for the same cost compared to PG&E, or opt up to Renewable 100,  which provides 100% renewable & carbon-free energy sourced by solar and wind sources from within California.

A not-for-profit government agency, East Bay Community Energy will keep its rates competitive and reinvest earnings back into the community to create local green energy and clean power projects that benefit the Alameda County economy within the program’s area.

ABOUT EBCE
East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) is a public agency power supplier, committed to providing electricity generated from a high percentage of renewable sources such as solar and wind. As of November 2018, Alameda County residents and businesses now have a greener choice for the source of electricity that powers their homes and businesses.

For more information about EBCE, visit ebce.org

EBCE Media Contact:
Annie Henderson
ahenderson@ebce.org
510-640-9681

EBCE PR Contact:
Rochelle Germano
R.Germano@circlepoint.com

Caltrain Goes Green: Transit agency to rely on 100 percent renewable energy

Caltrain will be powered entirely by renewable energy sources by 2019 for a 4.8 percent cost increase — or an additional $64,314 a year — if the transit agency partners with a new community choice energy program.

That program is called San Jose Clean Energy and the Caltrain board will likely make the partnership official at a Thursday, Nov. 1, meeting.

“This is a small investment for an extraordinarily good outcome,” said Caltrain Board Member Charles Stone. “I think with our move toward electrification we’ve shown we’re an agency that understands we need to play a role in reducing greenhouse gases and we’ve heard loud and clear from the board that’s the direction we want to take. We have an obligation to future generations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The move comes after the passage of SB 100 in September, which requires the state’s electricity to be 100 percent emissions-free by 2045.

Caltrain is currently powered by 65 percent renewable energy sources as of last March, with Pacific Gas and Electric providing half of the agency’s energy and municipal utilities and community choice energy programs, including Peninsula Clean Energy, providing the other half. Prior to 2017, 33 percent of Caltrain’s energy was renewable.

Starting in March, San Jose Clean Energy will likely account for half of Caltrain’s total electricity usage. San Jose is the only remaining Caltrain service area that doesn’t rely on entirely renewable energy sources.

Community choice energy programs, also known as community choice aggregation, are public and offer clean energy at competitive rates. For these programs, electricity is still delivered via existing infrastructure.

If Caltrain moves ahead with the proposed plan, then its energy bill will rise 4.8 percent from $1,357,442 to $1,393,565. But the cost estimate does not account for electrification, the $2 billion effort to replace 80 percent of Caltrain’s current diesel fleet with electric trains traveling between San Jose and San Francisco by 2022.

Caltrain’s electricity consumption is expected to increase tenfold once electrification is complete, according to a staff report. Staff is currently evaluating electricity cost estimates and energy options post-electrification.

zachary@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

 

Caltrain goes green Transit agency to rely on 100 percent renewable energy, by Zachary Clark, The Daily Journal, November 1, 2018.

Has the ‘microgrid’ revolution arrived? Electrified Bay Area tech companies think so

Software company VMware’s vision for building a community microgrid at its Palo Alto headquarters was born out of a challenge directly from CEO Patrick Gelsinger.

“Just over a year ago, I came to him with our sustainability plans, and he said ‘OK, but can we do this faster and more innovatively?’” recalled Nicola Acutt, VMware’s vice president of sustainability strategy.

 The conversation inspired Acutt to look into creating a microgrid: a system of generators, batteries, and electric loads that can be operated in a controlled way — it’s meant to be more sustainable and more reliable than just connecting to traditional utilities.

On Thursday, the cloud infrastructure firm said it was partnering with its hometown of Palo Alto to make that idea a reality, sharing the “proof of concept” for a microgrid that will combine renewable energy, battery storage and generators to power its buildings at the Stanford Research Park.

Microgrids are becoming increasingly common globally as companies and isolated communities alike seek out more reliant and efficient energy streams. For the first time this year, the amount of smaller, distributed energy resources coming on the grid worldwide will be more than centralized generation from utilities, according to Peter Asmus, associate director at Navigant Research. That includes everything from individual solar rooftops to large-scale wind farms.

“The world is shifting, so a way to deal with all of those small power sources is microgrids,” Asmus said.

Annual Installed Centralized vs. Distributed Power Capacity, World Markets: 2017-2026

Source: Navigant Research

Microgrids can have all kinds of power sources, though the trending technologies of the coming decade are solar arrays and advanced batteries because the costs are coming down so dramatically, Asmus said.

The Golden State is an increasingly hot market for microgrids, both because of its ambitious clean energy goals — powered 100 percent from renewable energy by 2045 — and the state’s rampant power outages. California has had the most power outages of any state eight years running, with over 430 separate power outage events last year alone, many of which stemming from wildfires, according to the Eaton Blackout Tracker.

In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to streamline the commercialization of microgrids, particularly for larger companies like VMware. The bill, SB 1339, requires California’s publicly owned utilities to “develop and make available a standardized process for the interconnection of a customer-supported microgrid” — opening up the prospect of separate electrical rates and even tariffs.

Though still in an early, exploratory stage, with no timeline or vendors pinned down, VMware sees its partnership with the City of Palo Alto Utilities as a testbed to “advance resiliency at the corporate and community level.”

The microgrid will also sturdy up Palo Alto’s emergency response efforts by providing a charging site for emergency vehicles and central command during any case of extended power outage or fuel shortage.

The Bay Area has seen its fair share of microgrids pop up over the past decade, sometimes in unexpected places, as California strives for cheaper, cleaner energy generation.

For instance, over 300 kilowatts of solar energy paired with diesel generation powers San Francisco’s prison-turned-tourist destination Alcatraz — the massive solar array hidden atop the main building’s roof to preserve the site’s historic integrity.

As one of the nation’s largest microgrids, the $7.1 million project saves the island more than 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year and has curbed Alcatraz’s fuel consumption by 45 percent since being installed in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

An ever-growing player on the microgrid scene is Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, which made its public debut on the stock market in early July valued at $1.6 billion. Globally, the company has about 1,500 employees, with some 800 of those in Sunnyvale.

The fuel cell generation company has approximately 70 microgrid customers, including Keysight Technologies, Kaiser Permanente, Intel and Genentech, according to David McCulloch, Bloom’s vice president of communications.

It’s also a loosely-guarded secret that Bloom Energy deployed its fuel cell technology to help power Apple’s spaceship Cupertino campus.

“High-tech manufacturing requires high-quality, reliable electricity that is always-on,” said KR Sridhar, Bloom Energy founder and CEO in a statement.

One of Bloom Energy’s newest corporate clients, JSR Micro, works in the semiconductor space doing research and quality assurance with multimillion dollar cameras requiring exact precision. In August, the company shared its plans to deploy Bloom Energy Servers to deliver 1.1MW of energy via an on-site microgrid at its Sunnyvale office.

“These machines we use are temperamental,” explained Eric Johnson, president of JSR Micro. “They have to be kept in environmentally pristine spaces, and power outages can be detrimental.”

Larger utilities are also coming around to microgrids as connecting them to the main grid becomes safer and more common.

Last year, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Company connected its first large-scale microgrid at Blue Lake Rancheria, a century-old Native American reservation in Humboldt County. The microgrid, which includes a 500-kilowatt solar array and 950 kWh Tesla battery storage system, also serves as a Red Cross evacuation center.

Still, the primary innovation is coming from the private sector, Asmus said, with the fastest-growing market for microgrids transforming into commercial and industrial customers like VMware and JSR Micro.

“(Companies) were kind of lagging behind because they’re risk averse, but now there are all kinds of options for control,” he said. “They’re worried about resiliency, they’re worried about wildfires.”

Has the ‘microgrid’ revolution arrived? Electrified Bay Area tech companies think so, by Hannah Norman, The San Francisco Business Times, November 1, 2018.

Joint solar+storage project planned for Silicon Valley, Monterey Bay

Canadian Solar announced its wholly owned subsidiary Recurrent Energy has signed two 15-year power purchase agreements with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power for a 150-MWac solar power system with 180 MWh of battery storage. This joint procurement effort represents the largest contracted solar+storage project in California to date.

This partnership resulted from a joint procurement process that Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power launched in September 2017 to source cost-effective, renewable power for their respective communities.

“As a community choice aggregator, we are proud to help California lead the transition to clean, reliable and flexible energy,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of Silicon Valley Clean Energy. “We are proud to partner on a new renewable energy project that makes a significant investment to reach our state’s carbon-free energy goals and contribute to solving the state’s grid integration problem by investing in large grid-scale energy storage.”

“We are excited to bring online the largest solar+storage project by CCAs to date,” said Tom Habashi, CEO of Monterey Bay Community Power. “Joining forces in this process with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Recurrent Energy has been invaluable, as we bring onto the grid the clean electricity that we know our customers desire.”

Power will be supplied from Recurrent Energy’s Slate solar+storage project to be built in Kings County, California. The project is scheduled to reach commercial operation in 2021, and the energy represented by the contracts is enough to power 37,500 homes, providing Silicon Valley Clean Energy with 55 percent of the energy, and Monterey Bay with the other 45 percent of the combined output.

“We’re excited to have participated in this joint procurement effort that will not only include solar, but a landmark amount of energy storage for the state of California as well,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar. “With the integrated storage component, both CCAs will have the flexibility to fill the battery when wholesale energy prices are low and then discharge the energy when prices are higher to meet their unique load requirements in a cost-competitive manner. Recurrent Energy was the first developer to close financing for a utility-scale solar project with CCA off-takers and we will leverage this expertise to ensure the project is successful.”

The project’s lithium-ion battery component is 45 MW nameplate with 180 MWh of energy capacity, allowing for four hours of flexible energy delivery.

 

Joint solar+storage project planned for Silicon Valley, Monterey Bay, by Billy Ludt, Solar Power World, October 30, 2018.

SV Clean Energy Signs Major Contracts for California’s Largest Solar-Plus-Storage Projects

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) signed two long-term agreements for the largest utility-scale, solar-plus-storage projects to be built in California. The two projects will provide 153 megawatts (MW) of solar and 47 MW of storage and will be developed by Electricité de France (EDF) and Recurrent Energy Development Holdings, LLC. (Recurrent). These projects will come online in 2021 and will harness enough energy to power 39,000 homes annually.

Image from Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Building storage in addition to solar turns the sun’s energy into a resource that can be used on demand, rather than only when the sun is shining. These projects will combine solar panels with large batteries to store energy that the sun produces during the day so that more clean energy can be discharged onto the grid during times of high energy usage in the evening.

“As a Community Choice Energy agency, we’re proud to partner on these groundbreaking developments that not only increase the long-term supply of renewables to our customers, but also make the electricity grid cleaner,” says Courtenay Corrigan, SVCE Board Chair. “These projects show our maturity as an agency, our financial strength and our continued commitment to decarbonization.”

“We are excited to help California lead the transition to clean, reliable and flexible energy,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of Silicon Valley Clean Energy. “These new renewable energy projects are a significant investment towards reaching our state’s carbon-free energy goals and contribute to solving the state’s grid integration problem by investing in large grid-scale energy storage.”

The contracts are the result of a competitive bidding process that began in September 2017. SVCE’s collaboration with its neighboring Community Choice Energy agency, Monterey Bay Community Power (MBCP) took advantage of economies of scale for the combined four counties, allowing for more purchasing power to invest in these long-term agreements. The two agencies issued a joint RFO which received over 80 offers for new projects that were in various stages of development. The overwhelming response represents the vast amount of interest in new renewable energy development that continues to grow.

The RE Slate 1 project, developed by Recurrent, will be built in Kings County and will provide 150 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity, plus 45 MW of storage, for a 15-year agreement. The BigBeau Solar project, developed by EDF, will be built in Kern County, providing 128 MW of solar capacity and 40 MW of storage and is a 20-year agreement. These projects will support approximately 840 jobs during construction. SVCE will receive 55% of the output, and MBCP will receive 45%.

SVCE signed long-term power purchase agreements with each development, ensuring that customers will be receiving clean power from California renewables for years to come.

About Silicon Valley Clean Energy

Silicon Valley Clean Energy is a community-owned agency serving the majority of Santa Clara County communities, acquiring clean, carbon-free electricity on behalf of more than 270,000 residential and commercial customers. As a public agency, net revenues are returned to the community to keep rates low and promote clean energy programs. Member jurisdictions include Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Saratoga, Sunnyvale and unincorporated Santa Clara County. SVCE is guided by a Board of Directors, which is comprised of a representative from the governing body of each member community. For more information, please visit SVCleanEnergy.org.

Media Contact:
Pamela Leonard
Communications Manager
pamela.leonard@svcleanenergy.org
(408)721-5301 x1004

Peninsula Clean Energy Awards Six Grants Totaling Nearly $450,000 for Local Community Pilot Projects

REDWOOD CITY, CA – October 29, 2018 – Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) of San Mateo County has awarded grants of up to $75,000 each for six innovative local pilot projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support low-income customers, and advance electric transportation. The Community Pilot Program awards will fund programs within the county to repair homes for low-income residents, promote access to electric vehicles, switch appliances from gas to electric, provide backup power for emergency shelters, and ensure safe appliance recycling.

“Peninsula Clean Energy is committed to investing in our local communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by advancing programs to electrify transportation and buildings,” said CEO Jan Pepper. “These are our first applicants to receive funding, and we look forward to promoting even more innovation in the future.”

A project with Build It Green in partnership with the non-profit El Concilio of San Mateo County, Hayward Lumber, GRID Alternatives, and Owens Corning will upgrade up to 16 low-income homes in Daly City and East Palo Alto with healthy home remediation and roof repairs to qualify the homes for energy efficiency improvements.

“We are excited to be able to leverage Peninsula Clean Energy funds to address critical home needs of some of the most vulnerable members of the community,” said Karin Burns, Executive Director of Build It Green.

Two awardees are focused on promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs). Envoy Technologies will introduce a creative on-demand EV car sharing program in a disadvantaged San Mateo County community. The County of San Mateo Office of Sustainability will develop the Roadmap for Municipal Green Fleets clean fuel toolkit to assist local governments in replacing traditional gas-powered fleets with electric vehicles.

Emergency preparedness and community resilience will be enhanced by a solar installation and energy storage project in up to five centrally located faith-based institutions throughout the county by the California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL) organization. All residents will have access to these locations in the event of an emergency such as a major earthquake.

The Peninsula Climate Comfort pilot project from Ardenna Energy will demonstrate a scalable program model for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by replacing natural gas usage with clean electricity in five qualifying homes.

ARCA Recycling Inc. brings 40 years of experience to its pilot program in San Mateo County for responsible appliance recycling and disposal, especially for outdated refrigerators. This program prevents the escape of refrigerants into the atmosphere where they act as potent greenhouse gases.

PCE’s Community Pilot Program is intended to assess innovative program approaches, develop partnerships and inform future programs. The proposals were carefully evaluated by PCE staff with input from its Citizens Advisory Committee on criteria including the projects’ benefit to multiple communities in the county, support for low income customers, greenhouse gas reduction, and qualifications of the applicants.

More information on Peninsula Clean Energy’s Community Pilot Program is available at https://www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/community-pilots/

About Peninsula Clean Energy 
Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) is San Mateo County’s official electricity provider. PCE (www.PeninsulaCleanEnergy.com) is a public local community choice energy program that provides electric customers in San Mateo County with cleaner electricity at lower rates than those charged by the local incumbent utility. PCE is projected to save customers more than $17 million a year. PCE, formed in March 2016, is a joint powers authority made up of the County of San Mateo and all 20 cities and towns in the County. PCE serves approximately 290,000 accounts.

PCE Contact
Kirsten Andrews-Schwind
Peninsula Clean Energy
kandrews-schwind@peninsulacleanenergy.com
M: 650.260.0096

Agency Contact
Tom Mertens
tom@krause-taylor.com
M: 408.234.6881

Energy efficiency rebates for upgrades are available in Mendocino County

When Ukiah building contractor Howie Hawkes of Hawkes Construction learned at a workshop last week about a significant energy efficiency rebate available to property owners who are rebuilding after the Redwood Complex fires, he thought of client Renee Vinyard.

Vinyard is rebuilding her Redwood Valley home that was destroyed in the fires. Hawkes met with her and they discussed the Sonoma Clean Power/PG&E rebates of $7,500 to $17,500 that are offered specifically to help fire victims rebuild, called the state Advanced Energy Rebuild program.

“We were super interested,” said Vinyard.  “At this stage, we can make changes in the house design that would qualify us for the rebates. Building an energy efficient house makes us feel really good about the future and being able to do something about climate change. We’ll be more comfortable, particularly during tremendously hot summer days.”

Hawkes and Vinyard set an appointment to meet with Chandra Apperson of Apperson Energy Management, a certified energy analyst based in Redwood Valley. Apperson will walk them through their options, explain terminology such as high-performance attic and wall, and what’s a heat-pump water heater. If hired, she’ll complete most inspections and paperwork.

“Basically, the incentive program is designed to be fairly close to cost neutral for the customer,” said Apperson, meaning that design changes and upgraded equipment required to qualify for AER shouldn’t cost too much more than the rebate.

“But the home that is built as a result,” Apperson added, “is more energy efficient, is designed to last longer, is more comfortable and has better indoor air quality. These are things you should try to do as you are building a new home anyway.”

California’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2045 means the state is supporting home rebuilds that are tops in energy efficiency.

That’s obvious when you gather up the details and rebates available through AER.  New homes qualify for up to $12,500 in rebates and include an electric vehicle charging station that is provided, free, from Sonoma Clean Power company. An additional $5,000 for up to $17,500 in rebates is available if solar panels and a storage battery are installed.

The clincher, Apperson added, is that in order to qualify for AER rebates, a certified home energy (HERS) rater must sign off on the insulation installation before the walls of the new home are sealed. Other than that, it’s simple.

People who are rebuilding homes destroyed in the fire have two options with AER: Build a new home that is 20 percent more energy efficient than the state energy code or select from a checklist of energy and water saving items to be installed in the home. Apperson usually suggests the 20 percent over code option because it offers more flexibility.

Hawkes said Vinyard’s home already was designed to be 6 percent more energy efficient than the state code. With some tweaks, he and Vineyard will try to qualify for the energy efficiency rebate.

Apperson was one of two speakers at a workshop on home energy efficiency and solar energy offered at Mendocino College by the Sustainable Construction and Energy Technology Program.  Hawkes was one of about 15 energy efficiency professionals, contractors and building owners who attended. Moderator was Rose Bell, project manager for the Community Foundation of Mendocino County’s Rebuilding Our Community (M-ROC) team.

Bell said that Redwood Complex fire survivors who are rebuilding using M-ROC housing grants should consider energy efficiency rebate programs in order to maximize the impact of their rebuild dollars.

There are 132 building permits issued and 42 more in the queue at Mendocino County’s planning and building department as of an Oct. 1 update issued by Nash Gonzalez, Mendocino County disaster recovery director.

A very energy efficient home with solar panels and storage battery could be net zero energy, said the second workshop speaker, Richard Silsbee of Radiant Solar Technology, Inc.  That means that, even though the home may use power from the grid during a series of rainy days, it feeds enough solar power into the grid on sunny days to zero out consumption.

Silsbee said prices of solar panels have dropped dramatically. “Now anyone can live off-grid and have the same lifestyle as someone in town,” he said. Silsbee noted that today’s solar systems often are sized to support air conditioning in summer.

Though AER prompted the most discussion at the workshop, Apperson covered energy efficiency rebates that are available to all homeowners to help offset the cost of higher-end energy efficient products. Rebates are available through Dec. 31 and then could change.

City of Ukiah residents can apply to the city for rebates of up to $1,000 per item on a wide variety of efficient windows, air conditioners, ceiling fans, attic and wall insulation, Energy Star appliances and even holiday and LED lights.  Here’s a checklist: http://www.cityofukiah.com/NewWeb/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Residential-Rebates-Chart.pdf

PG&E electric and gas customers can get rebates of $50 on smart thermostats and $300 on high efficiency water heaters. With more paperwork and a PG&E energy audit, customers can earn rebates of $1,500 to $5,500 on added insulation, efficient hot water heaters and other measures that reduce energy consumption by at least 10 percent.

PG&E’s promotion says “using energy more efficiently is more than simply the right thing to do – it saves customers money on their energy bills and is the fastest, most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

For a list of certified energy analysts including Apperson, visit https://cabec.org/

 

Energy efficiency rebates for upgrades are available in Mendocino County, by Suzanne Pletcher, The Ukiah Daily Journal, October 28, 2018.