CALSTART to host San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit

CALSTART, the Richmond based clean transportation organization, and the Fresno State Transportation Institute will host a two day summit revolving around emerging green transportation technologies. Taking place March 14th and 15th in Fresno, the summit will be free to attend and will include workshops on topics such as electrification of air travel, self driving vehicles, and much more.

Summit taking place March 14 and 15. Image from sjvcleantransportation.org

 

For more information, visit the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center site. For registration, please visit the Summit Eventbrite page.

 

Air District Chief Leaving

The end of an era has come at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. Seyed Sadredin is retiring after more than 10 years as the chief executive officer.

A look at his legacy is appropriate. Under Sadredin, the air district has continuously claimed to be doing a great job cleaning the air. It claims regularly to have the strictest regulations in the country. But, are residents breathing cleaner air today because of air district policies over the past 10 years? Has the district “left no stone unturned” as Sadredin likes to say ad nauseum.

Because of a lawsuit, Sadredin was forced to implement the first air quality regulations in the nation for factory animal farms. The air district made a menu of items each dairy would have to choose from to reduce volatile organic compound emissions. The dairy industry was happy because the menu required no more than what a well-run dairy should be doing anyway.

The air district was also forced through lawsuits to put in place an Indirect Source Rule for developers to mitigate the new air pollution emissions caused by their projects. The rule was weak, and it has not been properly enforced as one court recognized in Tulare County.

Because of repeated failures of the air district to show compliance with air quality standards, a fine was imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect money from big polluters for air quality improvements. Sadredin manipulated the rules so that the fine, approximately $30 million, was collected through state vehicle registration fees from every San Joaquin Valley resident who owned a car.

Sadredin has often blamed our air quality issues on outside causes. He made a big deal when ozone was discovered high in the mountains above Big Sur apparently blowing across the Pacific Ocean from China. Through a misinterpretation of preliminary data, up to 25% of our air pollution was stated to be from China. When proof was demanded, the air district slowly backed off those claims.

Whenever there has been a fire, anywhere in the state, the smoke somehow came into our valley and affected the air quality. Once upon a time, a three-hour fire at a refinery near Richmond caused a violation of an air quality standard three days later in Fresno, according to Sadredin.

There was a time, about seven years ago, that Arvin, in Kern County, consistently had the worst air quality in the Valley. The associated air monitor was then quietly removed and replaced with another kind in a new location. The air in Arvin was immediately 13%–18% cleaner. The State and the EPA demanded the monitor be put back. Sadredin privately met with the landowners at the site, and they subsequently refused to allow the monitor’s return.

Sadredin always blamed a lot of our bad air on people idling their cars at schools. He also criticized the American Lung Association when it “unfairly” ranked the Valley with the worst air in the nation. He once said that a lot of our Valley particulate matter was not as dangerous as other types. He even said the value of a life taken prematurely in the Valley, because of air pollution, was not as high as researchers claimed.

Sadredin liked to go on the radio and be quoted in the newspapers. Once he was asked on the radio why the air district cooperated with the EPA. Why didn’t he just tell them to go to hell? Sadredin said that was exactly what he and his board were trying to do.

A few years ago, Sadredin wrote a piece of legislation that would gut the Clean Air Act. With the new Congress in 2017, this legislation was quickly pushed through the House. Then, Sadredin backtracked and claimed the district really wanted only one small part of the legislation. But, the whole bundle is currently waiting for the Senate to take action.

Finally, through the years, Sadredin has consistently insulted the residents who have attended air district meetings and made comments asking for stronger regulations. According to him, no one understands the complexities of cleaning our air as he does.

So what about the air quality the past 10 years? Has it improved under Sadredin? The air district likes to cherry-pick numbers that make things look great. There has been some improvement in certain areas like the northern part of the valley. But, after a couple of better years really bad air pollution has always struck again.

Sadredin happens to be leaving with the air pollution worse than when he started in several areas. Residents in the southern half of the Valley experienced the worst episode of fine particulate matter in more than 10 years during the recent Christmas and New Year holidays. Just a month or two earlier, Bakersfield had gone through the worst summer of ozone violations in 10 years. This is not something most people would want to leave behind as a legacy.

 

Air District Chief Leaving, by Tom Frantz, Community Alliance, February 7, 2018. 

Better air, more jobs seen with $70M climate grant given to Fresno for low-income areas

A new Fresno City College satellite campus in southwest Fresno is the flagship project in a package of plans that won a $70 million grant from the California Strategic Growth Councilon Monday.

The council awarded three grants amounting to $140 million from the Transformative Climate Communities program for disadvantaged communities. The money comes from cap-and-trade funds paid by companies into California’s greenhouse gas-reduction program for air pollution credits to offset their own emissions.

Projects in Fresno are in the downtown, Chinatown and southwest neighborhoods. Simply put, the funds will help the city make climate and economic improvememts.

In addition to Fresno, the state announced that the Los Angeles community of Watts and the city of Ontario in San Bernardino County will receive $35 million each in TCC grants. The allocation of half of the state’s available TCC funds to Fresno reflects the Strategic Growth Council’s recognition that portions of the city are among the most economically challenged communities in California.

“This substantial investment in disadvantaged communities will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide environmental, economic and health benefits in ways that will have a profound impact on the quality of life of local residents,” said Ken Alex, chairman of the Strategic Growth Council and director of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research.

Fresno’s goal with the array of projects is to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 28,600 metric tons, in addition to business development, improving career-training opportunities and creating jobs for low-income residents.

“This $70 million will lead to triple the investment in economic development – and that will mean more jobs and better services for everyone,” Mayor Lee Brand said. “This funding will be the catalyst for further investment that will help Fresno bring new life to our most vulnerable communities.”

The satellite college campus is proposed as part of a larger plan for development at the southwest corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Church Avenue. Fresno’s application sought $16.9 million, which would augment a commitment of about $40 million from the State Center Community College District.

Other highlights of Fresno’s proposal include a project to build affordable housing in Chinatown near a future high-speed rail station; energy-efficiency projects such as installing residential solar and other energy improvements for homes; “urban greening” projects including tree planting, bike pathways and street improvements; creation of electric vehicle-sharing programs for cars and van pools and a bike-share program; improvements to the Mariposa Plaza between Fulton Street and the high-speed rail station at H Street; and an urban forestry project with a community orchard.

Fresno is already coordinating with the organizations and agencies that are co-applicants for each of the individual projects to line up the matching funds they’ve committed to combine with the grant, said H Spees, the mayor’s director of strategic initiatives. Spees said it will likely take several months of contract negotiations with the state before the grant money begins to flow.

“We are really paying attention to make sure we are performing at a very high rate in terms of quality and performance,” Spees said of the city’s role as the lead applicant for the money. “We want to build a community-development conduit that connects downtown, Chinatown and southwest Fresno.

“It’s all about leverage (to attract) other resources coming into the community,” Spees said. “In three years, if we can see all of these projects performing at a high level, then we will see some incredible improvement” in the affected neighborhoods.

 

Better air, more jobs seen with $70M climate grant given to Fresno for low-income areas, by Tim Sheehan, The Fresno Bee, January 30, 2018.

Hanford weighs energy plan

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a program that allows cities and counties to buy and/or generate electricity for residents and businesses within their areas.

In 2005, the city of Hanford participated in a startup Joint Powers Authority designed to establish a Community Choice Aggregation Entity consisting of 13 public agencies.

That effort failed due to the economic meltdown led by the housing crisis of 2008. Specifically, the Kings River Conservation District was unable to finance the electrical infrastructure needed.

Fast-forward to 2017. Growth in the Industrial Park located at the southern end of Hanford triggered a city study session, which was held to discuss the opportunity to re-evaluate the CCA formation under today’s new rules. The study session led to the relationship with the city of Lancaster. Lancaster is approximately four years ahead of the Hanford in this action and has agreed to assist in the evaluation and formation process when the Hanford City Council decides to move forward.

The Council agreed this week to hire a consultant to do just that. If successful, residents would be served by the new entity, not by PG&E.

Currently, at least eight CCAs operate in rural locations including Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa counties, with more in various stages of formation across the state.

Proponents of the CCA model describe the program as a way for local governments to leverage their demand to achieve lower electricity prices and to control the type of electricity purchased, such as a greater percentage of renewable energy than offered by the incumbent utility.

A key issue is how customers who stay with the incumbent utility are affected — an issue that continues to be debated. CCAs provide service on an opt-out basis, meaning that if a customer does not want to be served by the CCA, the customer must affirmatively make that choice.

 

Hanford weighs energy plan, by John Lindt, The Hanford Sentinel, January 18, 2018.

New Community Outreach Specialist, Fresno

Hello! I am LaTisha Harris, the new Community Outreach Specialist that has joined the Center for Climate Protection team. I will be working in the Central Valley primarily focused on Fresno and surrounding areas. I have over ten years of grassroots and labor organizing experience, lobbying and executing campaigns on various issues throughout the state of California. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from California State University, Fresno (Go Bulldogs!).

Being a native of Fresno with three children, all of whom suffer from asthma, having a cleaner environment has become one of my top priorities. Not just for my children, but for the generations to come as well. With the Central Valley being the top leader in Agriculture- supplying food for this entire nation, this is just one of the many reasons that Fresno needs and deserves a Community Choice Agency.

It is my desire to educate, engage and empower the residents, policy makers and stakeholders to make Fresno a cleaner and environmentally-friendly community, to stimulate the local economy by creating more jobs, and to give the residents an option in energy – something they’ve never had before. These are all things Community Choice Energy offers. I realize that this is a change that Fresno needs. It won’t be an easy road, but I am committed to making Fresno a better place to live, work and play!

If you would like to contact me about Community Choice Energy and our work in the Fresno area, please email me at LaTisha[at]climateprotection.org

New Community Outreach Specialist, Stockton and San Joaquin County

Hello, my name is Valeria Sanabia! I am the new Community Outreach Specialist in Stockton and San Joaquin County. I’ve joined the Center for Climate Protection, an organization that is helping address economic and community needs through the implementation of Community Choice Energy. In our work together, we will work to ensure that San Joaquin County and Stockton remain key players in California’s economic and energy landscape.

As a member of the California Chamber of Commerce International Affairs and Corporate Relations teams I advocated for Californian Businesses to ensure their place in the international marketplace. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity of forming relationships with many people including foreign government representatives and business leaders in all industries to help keep Californian businesses relevant and innovative.

In the same way that I have helped build fruitful working relationships in my previous work, I look forward to helping foster energy innovation and elevating the standard of living for Stockton and San Joaquin County. As a native Stocktonian, I grew up in the heart of California with access to a breadth of diversity and learning to appreciate everything from bonfires under starry nights to city lights. It is imperative that as California moves forward, every sector and all people are included in that plan. With energy being such an important facet of business and civilian life, I want to ensure we are using energy in a way that serves all of our needs as a community.

Having come home recently, I am proud to see the momentum that has surged in order to move our region forward and capture state and national attention. Through Community Choice, we can efficiently direct capital into economic development and create long-term economic stability in our community to secure our families’ future. I want to help create a more sustainable and robust economy through the transformation of the energy sector so that we can remain versatile and become better positioned to integrate into the larger economic landscape in California. Together, I am sure we will find the best way to transform the way we use energy to serve us better.

If you live in Stockton or San Joaquin County and would like to contact me about Community Choice Energy and our work, please email me at Valeria[at]climateprotection.org

Why an Oil Company Plans to Build California’s Biggest Solar Energy Project

The Belridge oil field in the San Joaquin Valley of California has produced about 1.7 billion barrels of heavy crude since its discovery in 1911. Thanks to advances in solar power, its next 500 million barrels will be a little bit greener.

Here in the middle of the 22-mile long oilfield Aera Energy is set to spend something on the order of $250 million (they won’t say exactly) to build California’s largest solar energy project. The centerpiece will be 630 acres of glass houses, like the greenhouses you see on farms. Hung inside the glass boxes will be solar collectors — basically flimsy mirrors made from sheets of aluminum foil and suspended by wires. As the sun moves across the sky, small motors pull the wires to adjust the mirrors’ pitch. The reflected rays are concentrated on a network of pipes carrying water throughout the glass block, creating the steam equivalent of a power plant operating at 850 megawatts. (By comparison, the Ivanpah solar complex in the Mojave Desert generates 370mw.) The plan at Belridge is to use the sun’s power to make 12 million barrels of steam per year.

What’s the steam for? Well Belridge is what you’d call a geriatric oil field. Its oil no longer flows under its own natural pressure, so its operator, Aera Energy, is continuously injecting steam into the reservoir rock in order to loosen up and coax out more oil. The so-called steam floods have been going on so long at old fields throughout the region around Bakersfield, Calif., that oftentimes more than 95% of the fluid that comes out of the ground is water. After the oil is skimmed off, the water is repressurized and injected right back down into the reservoir.

Production at Belridge peaked at 160,000 barrels per day in 1986, and today it is still doing 76,000 bpd — a rate that Christina Sistrunk, CEO of Aera Energy, thinks it can keep up for the next 20 years. That long life expectancy is why is makes economic sense for Aera to invest an estimated $250 million with GlassPoint to build its solar technology.

Read more by clicking the link below.

Why an Oil Company Plans to Build California’s Biggest Solar Energy Project, by Christopher Helman, Forbes, December 4, 2017.

New Solar Array to Provide 67 Percent of Tracy Facility’s Energy Needs

Taylor Farms Pacific unveiled its new 300,000-square-foot solar installation situated atop its west San Joaquin County facility.

According to a statement released detailing the project, the solar array will provide 67 percent of the energy needs at the location.

There are 8,024 panels in the installation, which occupies 7.5 acres of the facility’s rooftops. Taylor Farms said it is the largest private solar panel array in the county, providing 2.256 megawatts of power to the facility. The clean energy project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2,752 metric tons each year.

“I am thrilled to see yet another one of our sustainability projects come to fruition, and this is one of our most exciting projects to date,” said Nicole Flewell, director of sustainability with Taylor Farms. “With each installation, whether solar, wind or cogeneration, we continue to add clean power to our facilities nationwide in the most sustainable manner possible.”

Taylor Farms, a salad and healthy foods producer, has installed eight such projects at its locations throughout the U.S. since 2012. Taylor Farms Pacific in Tracy employs more than 1,300 people.

“This is a wonderful achievement for Taylor Farms’ sustainability program,” said Robert Rickman, the mayor of Tracy. “We’re excited about not only the innovation that Taylor Farms is bringing to the City of Tracy, but what’s to come with our partnership.”

New Solar Array to Provide 67 Percent of Tracy Facility’s Energy Needs, by Staff, Central Valley Business Journal, October 10, 2017.

Lemoore Charged up over Charging Stations

The ChargePoint company says they are helping more people choose to drive electric. The company was recently awarded a California Energy Commission grant to develop, own and operate high-speed EV charging stations along key highway corridors in California.

Now they want to install a station in Lemoore the City Council heard about at a study session last month. Staff says an agreement with the company is expected in coming weeks.

Within the next two to five years, the number of EV drivers in the community will increase rapidly, believe both the company and the state. At no cost to the city of Lemoore, ChargePoint plans to install and maintain 10 total parking spaces with the initial installation of two to four high-speed EV chargers and one dual port Level 2 charger. It serves drivers wanting to make a 30 minute to an hour stop; compatible with all electric vehicles. Level2 charging ports charge time is between one to three hours.

The development is expected to make Lemoore a popular stop along Highway 41 and increase visitation to Downtown Lemoore. ChargePoint would own, operate and maintain the station at its own expense over a 15-year term (option to auto-renew).

The current proposal would be to use a city parking lot on E Street, near the depot.

Lemoore Charged up over Charging Stations, by John Lindt, The Sentinel, November 9, 2017.

California’s Visalia Unified School District to Install 1.6 MWh of Green Charge Energy Storage

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Green Charge, an ENGIE Company, today announced that the Visalia Unified School District will install 1.6-megawatt hours of energy storage at five schools in the district. The energy storage system, coupled with solar, is expected to save the school district more than $1,000,000 over the 10-year contract. The Visalia school district invested in the energy storage system, which will become the largest installation of energy storage systems in a Tulare County school district. Green Charge’s energy storage solution will be on display at the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Fall Central Section Fall Conference on Friday, September 29 at the Wyndham Hotel in Visalia, CA.

“Some K-12 school districts do not realize that deploying an energy storage system will save significant money,” said Rick Brown, Ph.D., president, Terra Verde Renewable Partners, project managers for the Visalia USD energy storage project. “Savings generated from demand charge reduction are an indirect boon to education, since paying less for electricity leaves more in the operational budget.”

Green Charge was recently named the number one energy storage company by Navigant Research and their customer portfolio includes more than 100 California schools. The Green Charge energy storage systems are monitored, optimized, and controlled through its proprietary software platform. The Green Charge system includes GridSynergy® Storage, a customized indoor/outdoor lithium-ion-based battery storage unit and GridSynergy Software, providing visibility, analytics and managing demand for energy and providing visibility into savings. Adding energy storage to solar PV, allows Visalia to smooth out peaks and gaps in generation and energy use caused by facility operations.

”Over the past 5 years our Board has directed us to implement solar and energy conservation projects that reduce operational costs and demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship. We are excited to move into this new technology to advance our continuous search for cost-effective energy solutions,” noted Robert Groeber, Assistant Superintendent at Visalia USD.

“Green Charge has installed more energy storage systems at more school districts throughout California than any other provider,” said Vic Shao, president and CEO at Green Charge. “What is significant for cash-strapped schools is that funds generated from energy storage can be made available almost as soon as the energy storage system is installed, thanks to California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). This program promotes the installation of certain technologies (among them solar PV and energy storage) that are deployed to meet all or a portion of a facility’s electricity needs. Converted to general funds, all of these funds can enable schools to commit to much-needed infrastructural improvements, hire additional teachers, or fund traditionally cash-strapped arts programs.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how K-12 school districts and community colleges can grow their general fund with an energy storage solution please visit http://www.greencharge.net/site-analysis/.

About TerraVerde:

TerraVerde is the leading independent energy advisory firm focused on developing and managing large-scale efficiency and solar and battery storage projects for its clients. TerraVerde develops renewable energy facilities for local and state governments, school districts and water agencies. Solar energy systems provide TerraVerde clients with fairly priced, reliable, long-term, inflation-hedged sources of green energy. Additionally, these systems help TerraVerde clients meet clean energy regulatory requirements and achieve green branding objectives. TerraVerde creates value in the communities in which we operate by reducing local greenhouse gas emissions, supporting community-based environmental programs and local government initiatives and providing investments that promote the development of green jobs. For more information, visit: www.TerraVerdeEnergy.com.

About Green Charge:

Green Charge has been designing and deploying commercial energy storage since 2009, with systems installed throughout the United States. As part of ENGIE, the largest independent power producer in the world, Green Charge’s mission is to use energy storage to power the world efficiently and sustainably. Our team consists of top energy storage industry experts who provide performance-based solutions to optimize the value of energy for our customers. Our ecosystem of solar, EV charging, and energy efficiency experts allows our customers to combine energy storage and renewables easily and economically. Visit www.greencharge.net for more information.

Contacts

Green Charge
Anne Smith, 408-313-8089
asmith@greencharge.net

California’s Visalia Unified School District to Install 1.6 MWh of Green Charge Energy StorageBusiness Wire, September 28, 2017.