Fresno Community Workshop a Success

Call for a Fresno evaluation of Community Choice Energy loud and strong

A diverse group of Fresno community leaders, residents, businesspeople, and representatives from various organizations and institutions gathered for a workshop on November 13th to learn about Community Choice Energy, share information, and ask questions. The event, co-hosted by the Center for Climate Protection and the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, took place at the Nielsen Conference Center in Fresno.

Elizabeth Jonasson of Fresno EOC welcomed the attendees and offered Fresno EOC’s perspective on the potential economic benefits of local energy resource development. She was followed shortly thereafter by the Center’s Barry Vesser who asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the most recent firestorms, smoke from which was very evident in the Valley.

The presentation highlight was a summary of the progress being made in nearby Hanford on Community Choice Energy by Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle. Hanford, located just 32 miles south of Fresno in adjacent Kings County, has completed a technical study and is preparing to undertake its implementation plan. Hanford until recently was the only city in the Central Valley with a formal evaluation underway. It has been joined recently by the city of Stockton where the Legislative Committee of the City Council held a hearing on Community Choice on November 5th.

About 30 workshop attendees helped give substance to the evening with their great questions.

The Center’s Destiny Rodriguez and LaTisha Harris also chimed in on the presentation, but the real highlight of the evening was the dynamic and probing questions posed by the attendees. The Fresno community is challenged by many economic and environmental problems and although Community Choice is not a panacea, many of the opportunities that it presents were explored in depth.

Attendees also had some fun with a “wall of choices” where they were able to highlight their favorite aspects of a clean energy economy advanced by Community Choice.

Dolores Barajas, Executive Director of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition with her not-so-surprising choice of priorities for a future Fresno Community Choice Energy program.

The first step for the city of Fresno is for the City Council to schedule an informational study session so that they can hear from their peers in the nineteen operational Community Choice agencies and take their time to ask questions collectively in a public setting.

For information and to stay up to date about future activities in the Central Valley, sign up for CPX E-News San Joaquin Valley HERE, and visit the dedicated Central Valley page HERE.

Professor Alex Sherriffs, of CSU Fresno and UCSF School of Medicine highlights health.

Community Choice Energy on the Agenda in Stockton

City Council Legislative Committee Receives Presentation

On November 5th staff from the Center for Climate Protection delivered the first formally agendized presentation to the Legislative Committee of the Stockton City Council. The committee asked questions for more than a half-hour after the 25-minute presentation.

The matter is now expected to be heard in the full city council on December 4th where the Legislative Committee will report to the council on Community Choice Energy. Following the hearing in the City Council, an informational study session may be scheduled for some time in early January.

Barry Vesser addresses Stockton City Council Legislative Committee members (L-to-R) Jesus Andrade, Dan Wright, Elbert Holman.

Also coming up in Stockton, the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley will be holding its quarterly Governing Board meeting in Stockton on Friday, December 7. The Center will be on that agenda for a full presentation on Community Choice Energy.

Stay tuned to CPX for more information on both of these dates as they approach.

San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Awarded $3.7 Million to Improve Valley Air Quality

Fresno, CA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week it would award the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) over $3.7 million for two projects the District is spearheading to improve Valley air quality by reducing heavy-duty diesel vehicle emissions.

The SJVAPCD was awarded the federal funding through the EPA’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grants program and will match the federal dollars with SJVAPCD funds for both projects. Congressman Costa has been a longtime supporter of the DERA program, most recently joining his House colleagues in advocating for continued and robust program support in the 2019 Fiscal Year spending bill.

“The Valley faces unique challenges when it comes to improving our air quality, and I applaud the District for designing effective programs that both meet the real needs in the San Joaquin Valley and deservingly earn federal support,” said Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16). “Our communities are best served when local, state, and federal leaders work together, and I look forward to continuing to work with the District to make our air cleaner and to build a stronger and healthier Valley for all of us.”

The first project will replace over 100 heavy-duty diesel trucks in the Valley with newer trucks, while the second will replace 100 diesel-powered agricultural tractors with new off-road agricultural equipment. Both projects require the new replacement vehicles to have dramatically lower emissions than the older vehicles, meeting or even exceeding current EPA emission standards.

Agriculture and trucking are critical for the Valley’s economy, and both currently rely on diesel-fueled vehicles or equipment that are a significant source of air pollution. These projects aim to support the Valley’s economic needs while also improving the region’s air quality and health.

“Agriculture is essential to the success of the San Joaquin Valley. The District will continue working with Valley growers, EPA, and other agencies to keep moving forward with clean air efforts and investments in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Samir Sheikh, SJVAPCD Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer.

 

Congressman Jim Costa Says San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Awarded $3.7 Million to Improve Valley Air Quality, Press Release, Sierra Sun Times, October 29, 2018.

Clean Air Victory for San Joaquin Valley, Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks

FRESNO, Calif – In a significant legal victory for clean air advocates, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enact deadlines for the State of California to submit plans to regulate fine particle air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The court order responds to a lawsuit brought by National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA), Committee for a Better Arvin (CBA), and Committee for a Better Shafter (CBS) over the EPA’s failure to enforce deadlines for San Joaquin Valley air quality plans impacting nearby Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are more than two years overdue in finalizing plans to address public health and air quality and visibility standards – some of which were set more than 20 years ago. For years, residents in the San Joaquin Valley and park visitors to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon have experienced hazy skies and degraded views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, along with adverse health effects like asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses. This order creates a firm deadline for the State of California to finalize a plan within 18 months; if the state fails to act, it will face federal sanctions. The currently proposed plans by the SJVAPCD and CARB do not come close to adequately reducing pollution.

Statement by Mark Rose, Sierra Nevada Field Representative. National Parks Conservation Association.

“This order is a major victory for clean air in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding national parks including Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. Valley residents and visitors to Yosemite and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks are currently facing some of the worst air pollution in the nation, which rivals our most polluted cities. Community members and the more than five million annual park visitors who support our vibrant tourism economy deserve clean air.

“After two years without a plan, we cannot afford any additional delays or plans that will not effectively improve the quality of the air we breathe. The clock is now officially ticking for the Valley Air District and California Air Resources Board to finalize their proposals. We urge them to strengthen the plan to better protect the lungs and skies in our region.”

# # #

About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

Greening the Heart of the Central Valley

Huron is a small town in the heart of the Central Valley. That’s literal–ten miles or so south and east of Harris Ranch, it’s about the halfway point for drivers making the trek between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. But culturally and economically, Huron is about as far from the touristic setting of Harris Ranch as you can get.

Huron’s residents are mostly farmworkers, many of whom have lived in the area for generations. Not only does the entire region suffer from some of the worst air quality in the nation, being surrounded by farms doesn’t so much lend it a bucolic setting as one filled with dust, pesticides, and, according to residents, asbestos in nearby streams. The region has some of the highest asthma rates in the state, and residents do hard physical labor for not very much money.

Many people living in Huron do not have access to a car. And to reach medical or social service appointments, they have to somehow get to Fresno, which is about fifty miles away. That’s an hour’s drive in a car–or a three- to four-hour trip on a bus.

For years, Huron residents have helped each other get to medical and other appointments, and shopping trips, using an informal ride-sharing system they call “raiteros.”

The word is a loose Spanish borrowing from the English word “ride,” and raiteros can be the people giving the rides as well as the people who ride as passengers. Long before Uber or Lyft, residents of Huron who have a car would offer rides to those without one, sharing the cost of gas and the company. They might be relatives, or neighbors, or acquaintances. Huron’s mayor Rey León calls it “indigenous ingenuity.”

It was a problem that the mostly low-income community solved by itself, with its own resources.

The raiteros are doing good work, not only helping people get where they need to get in a timely way, but increasing the average number of riders per car making that long drive. However, for the most part they drive older cars that are neither clean burning or fuel efficient. That part is not good for anybody; not only do private vehicle trips account for the single largest chunk of emissions (28 percent), but there’s that polluted Central Valley air.

Some of those trips to Fresno are about to get a lot cleaner, with a new program called Green Raiteros. Two new all-electric vehicles—a Chevy Volt and a BMW 13—will be made available for use by the raiteros, along with a more formal dispatch system to keep it organized. Huron recently held a celebration to launch it, which also served as the official opening for a new community center that will offer an air-conditioned spot to hang out, computers with wifi—which is not so easy to come by in the rural town—and a maintenance yard and electric charging station for the new vehicles, as well as electric vehicles that will come to Huron in the future.

The Green Raiteros program has been in the works for several years. Huron’s mayor, Rey León, founder and executive director of San Joaquin Valley Latino Environmental and Advancement Policy (Valley LEAP), has been cobbling together funding—and community capacity—from a variety of sources, including grants from Just Transit and the California Endowment, and funds from a pot of money created when the CPUC settled fraud charges with an electricity company.

The money is not just for the two electric vehicles. The program launch also necessitated the installation of charging facilities in Huron and Fresno, the hiring of a program manager, and the creation of the dispatch system.

Brian Smith, an activist for clean air in the Central Valley, told Streetsblog that bringing electric cars to Huron “was a little like landing a space vehicle on the moon.”

“Just getting the power to a rural community was a major undertaking,” he said. “Green Raiteros faced many technical hurdles, but they never gave up.” Those included getting the right power lines out to Huron, which required coordinating with PG&E and EVGo, a company that is building a network of charging stations in the Central Valley. The cars have a range of 60 to 75 miles, enough for a one-way trip, so charging again in Fresno will be necessary to get home.

Reyes Barboza, the Director of Operations, has been working on bringing the project to reality since January. He’s also a native of Huron, but spent time in the Bay Area and on the East Coast getting educated and working as a planner before returning to Huron to work on the Green Raiteros project.

Even so, he sometimes feels like a newcomer. The raiteros have been around for a long time. Many are retired or semiretired people “who for the most part have been working in the fields for their whole lives,” he said. “They want to be active community participants. One of the ways they do that is making themselves available to offer transport to others who really need it, maybe on their regular weekly trip to Fresno.”

Barboza sees the possibilities of the Green Raiteros program being a model for other areas, but wants to focus on building capacity first in his hometown. “There’s a lot of talk about innovation and tech, but here you have a town that’s between L.A. and S.F. that lacks a lot. We’re not far from these tech capitals, and yet our fastest internet speed is DSL.”

“Without capacity,” said Barboza, “it’s harder for a place like Huron to find and apply for funds for these kinds of programs, which means you have folks from outside coming in. That means there aren’t any locals learning about this, and they become reliant on outside resources.”

In addition to the electric vehicles, Green Raiteros offers a dispatching service and a way to pay drivers who use their own cars for their expenses, similar to the way many volunteer organizations function. “We want to make sure we don’t creep into the taxi area,” said Barboza. “We want to keep it affordable.” Drivers who use the electric vehicles won’t be reimbursed, but they do get to drive the cleanest cars in town.

Eventually, says Barboza, “We can grow the EV program to establish a membership or a coop to rent the vehicles out to people” in Huron. The bigger picture, he said, is to make it part of “a farmworker community network.”

Huron is far from the only rural, farmworker-resident town in California, and the raitero system is widespread. Its informality makes it hard to know who or even where all the raiteros are, even in Huron. Part of what Green Raiteros has to offer is a model for other places to figure out how to implement a similar program to support the community as well as to clean up emissions, and other cities, such as Stockton, are watching to see how the program works out the kinks.

“Wherever there are campesinos, there are raiteros,” said Mayor León. “It’s a a social network of support among comadres, compadres, neighbors, relatives, and an innate sociocultural aspect of who we are.”

Green Raiteros is “just matching it up with today’s technologies, to make it easily consumable, understandable, safe, and secure,” he said.

The program is still in the process of hiring dispatchers and setting up a system, but they plan to begin offering rides this week. “The wheels are grinding slowly,” said León, “but definitely each revolution is very productive and instructional for us. We’re getting rid of the air bubbles and getting rid of potholes” so other cities and towns can emulate Huron’s success.

The first trips they will focus on are for medical and family services appointments. In a video about the project, and the mayor, León counts the ways Green Raiteros is an important resource for Huron in addition to the community center: it provides economic justice, serving those who need it most; it offers environmental benefits by providing cleaner transportation; it’s one of many solutions for climate change; and it offers transportation justice, putting those without vehicles on an equal footing as those that have them.

The future, León told Streetsblog, is “not just about edifice or infrastructure; it’s more than that. What is physical should reflect what is cultural, what is on the ground.”

“There is huge value where there’s not great wealth,” he added. “That’s why we need to invest in [places like Huron], so we can bring about some equity while we identify new ways to improve the larger infrastructure, transit, and other needs.”

 

Greening the Heart of the Central Valley, by Melanie Curry, Streetsblog California, October 26, 2018.

First Solar sells 100-MW California solar project

First Solar and D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI) today announced the acquisition by a DESRI affiliate of the 100-MW Willow Springs Solar Project in Kern County, California. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The project, which was developed by First Solar, is currently under construction, with completion estimated at the end of 2018. The project will supply power to Southern California Edison Company through a long-term Renewable Power Purchase and Sale Agreement.

“DESRI is thrilled to close on the acquisition of Willow Springs from First Solar,” said Bryan Martin, CEO of DESRI. “This project is a testament to the strong partnership that our firms have built over many years. We are looking forward to using First Solar’s leading Series 6 module technology to deliver clean energy to the Kern County community for years to come.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to build on our strong relationship with DESRI as they grow their solar portfolio,” said Georges Antoun, First Solar’s chief commercial officer. “We are also pleased to play a part in helping enable Southern California Edison deliver clean, renewable energy to their customers.”

Antoun also noted the importance of the positive business environment provided by Kern County as a factor in realizing the benefits of solar as a fundamental power generation source of the future.

When in operation, the power plant is expected to annually provide enough clean, affordable sustainable electricity to power about 41,000 typical California homes and displace more than 77,000 metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions each year–the equivalent of taking almost 15,000 cars off the road.

Willow Springs is the fourth renewable energy project DESRI has acquired from First Solar. In 2017 a DESRI affiliate acquired the 40-MW Cuyama Solar Project in Santa Barbara County; in 2016 DESRI affiliates acquired the 31-MW Portal Ridge Solar Project in Los Angeles County and the 11-MW Rancho Seco Solar Project in Sacramento County.

News item from D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments

 

First Solar sells 100-MW California solar project, by Billy Ludt, Solar Power World, October 17, 2018.

Peninsula Clean Energy Starts Construction of 200-Megawatt Solar Facility

Los Banos, CA – October 11, 2018 – California’s largest solar installation built exclusively for a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) agency broke ground today in California’s Central Valley. Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), the electricity provider for 290,000 San Mateo County customers, expects the 200-megawatt utility-scale Wright Solar project to come online in late 2019.

“This is a huge step for Peninsula Clean Energy and our customers,” said CEO Jan Pepper. “The Wright Solar project moves us toward our goal of providing all customers with 100% renewable power by 2025. This long-term contract locks in the price we pay for electricity, which helps ensure that our rates will remain low. The size of the project is unique for a CCA and positions PCE as a leader in the industry.”

Peninsula Clean Energy has an exclusive 25-year power purchase agreement with Wright Solar Park LLC to buy the solar facility’s electricity. The project is owned by Centaurus Renewable Energy and the construction and operations are managed by Clēnera, LLC. The solar facility is being constructed by Swinerton Renewable Energy with union labor hired from the surrounding areas. The facility will produce enough electricity to power more than 100,000 San Mateo County homes a year.

“One of our primary objectives for PCE is to grow the supply of new renewable energy sources,” said Dave Pine, founding PCE Board Chair and President of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. “With the Wright Solar project, we are helping to fight climate change by adding 200 megawatts of new solar power.  We’re also proud that the construction of this project will create approximately 400 union jobs in Merced County.”

Image from Peninsula Clean Energy

“This project will help the County achieve multiple goals,” stated Lloyd Pareira, Vice-Chairman of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. “From new construction jobs being created to millions of dollars in new tax revenues being realized, we are pleased this investment is being made in our county.”

“An investment in solar energy provides value to American consumers and their communities on a local, state, and national level,” said George Hershman, President of Swinerton Renewable Energy. “Our team is proud to partner with Peninsula Clean Energy and Clēnera to bring affordable, clean power and hundreds of local jobs to California’s Central Valley.”

Peninsula Clean Energy was the fifth Community Choice Aggregation entity formed in California. PCE launched its service in October 2016 and provides electricity to all of San Mateo County. PCE estimates its lower rates save San Mateo County customers approximately $17 million a year.

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 all 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.
About Clenera, LLC
Clenera, LLC (“Clēnera”) based in Boise, Idaho, is an end-to-end utility-scale solar development and asset management service provider focused exclusively on utility-scale solar projects in the continental United States. Clēnera relies on its experienced executive team and professional staff to identify the best projects and manage each project from pre-construction development and design through construction and commercial operation. Clēnera utilizes an efficient finance, development, construction and operations platform to consistently deliver low cost and reliable clean energy from the projects it manages. By the end of 2018, Clēnera is on-target to have constructed over 900 MWDC of utility-scale solar. For more information on Clēnera, visit www.clenera.com.
About Swinerton Renewable Energy
Swinerton Renewable Energy (SRE) offers engineering, procurement, construction, and SOLV® services for solar photovoltaic plants throughout North America to a diverse range of clients. Over 130 years of building landmark projects, Swinerton has forged a reputation for unsurpassed safety, workmanship, on-time delivery, and customer satisfaction. Today, our team takes pride in building cost-effective solar systems that will generate reliable, clean power for many years to come. SRE has delivered over 3.5 GW of solar projects and our SOLV team manages over 4.5 GW of PV plants. Learn more about Swinerton Renewable Energy at swinertonrenewable.com.
Media 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

Fresno still ‘ground zero’ for terrible air. Why did Valley Air District blow off major hearing?

They came to Fresno from all over California and the West to make their voices heard in the struggle for clean air.

Air quality officials, politicians, doctors, activists, ordinary citizens — they all turned out for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public hearing to speak out against the Trump Administration’s proposed weakening of vehicle emissions regulations. Representatives of the auto industry gave the opposing view.

The Sept. 24 hearing in downtown Fresno was one of three held that week across the nation. Why Fresno? Because, in the words of California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols, the San Joaquin Valley is “ground zero for the most stubbornly persistent violations of air standards.”

Yes, that’s the air we breathe every day.

The hearing lasted 12 hours. More than 125 people signed up to speak. Colleague Barbara Anderson procured a list, and I scanned the names looking for someone from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. You know, the folks who, according to their home page, are “committed to improving the health and quality of life for all Valley residents.”

But guess what? I couldn’t find Executive Director Samir Sheikh, or anyone else. A public hearing over a rollback of vehicle emissions standards was held in Fresno, and no one from the Valley Air District deemed it important enough to attend.

Don’t you find that a bit odd? I do.

Wayne Nastri’s name was on the list of speakers. Nastri is executive director of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, where the air is sometimes even dirtier than ours. His office is in Diamond Bar, 245 miles away, but still took the time and made the effort to get to Fresno.

So I called to find out why.

“Because we think this rollback would have a strong adverse effect on our ability to clean the air here in Southern California,” SCAQMD spokesman Sam Atwood said. “He’ll travel anywhere he feels is needed to get that message across loud and clear.”

Jack Broadbent, air pollution control officer for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, came from San Francisco to speak. Why did he feel it was important?

“The stakes are incredibly high,” replied Kristine Roselius, BAAQMD spokesperson. “A rollback of the standards would pump additional pollution into our community and obstruct our agency from carrying out its mission to protect Bay Area residents from air pollution.”

“It was very important that our voice be heard,” Roselius added.

Of course I contacted the Valley Air District, whose office is in central Fresno, to find out why no one from the bureaucracy entrusted with improving our health didn’t raise its voice, on our behalf.

Days passed and I received no reply from Sheikh. Eventually, spokeswoman Jaime Holt emailed back to say Sheikh was “not available this week” and that we might be able to speak Tuesday “but I will need to double check.”

As for the question of why no one from the Valley Air District attended the EPA hearings, Holt said, “We didn’t have top-level staff available to attend and submitted written comments.”

Sorry, but that’s not good enough. The executive director of the Valley Air District earns more than $300,000 in annual salary. With benefits, his pay exceeds $400,000. A good chunk is taxpayer money.

Surely, Sheikh could have found the time for such an important hearing, one held in his backyard. If not, he could have designated someone else. The air district website lists more than 100 employees.

To be fair, I read the comments Sheikh submitted. (The language is so dense it took me a couple passes.) In essence, Sheikh seems to be saying, “We can’t meet the Clean Air Act as is, and mobile pollutants caused by vehicle emissions are state and federal responsibilities, not ours.”

One explanation for the absence could be that Valley Air District officials, as guided by the governing board, are quietly pleased at President Trump’s efforts to weaken our environmental laws, even if that means dirtier air for you and I. Why? Because the end result would take the heat off them.

Such is the contention of local environmental activist Kevin Hall.

“The last thing they’re going to do is send (Sheikh) into an EPA hearing and object to a rollback of regulations when that’s just what they’re looking for themselves,” Hall said. “They want to remove deadlines and penalties for air districts like ours that continue to fail. In other words, they want to legalize their 28 years of a failed process.”

I’m not going to double down on Hall’s comments, but it does make you think.

It is curious that the Valley Air District’s own legislative platform seeks to amend the Clean Air Act. The district’s critics would substitute the word “weaken.” Officials prefer “streamline” and “simplify.”

But that’s a subject for another day. For now, let’s leave it here: Fresno hosted a major EPA hearing on vehicle emissions, one of three held across the nation, and our local air officials no-showed.

Which is definitely a bit odd.

Marek Warszawski: 559-441-6218, @MarekTheBee

 

Fresno still ‘ground zero’ for terrible air. Why did Valley Air District blow off major hearing?, by Marek Warszawski, The Fresno Bee, October 8, 2018.

New energy-efficient home tract in north Clovis is largest of its kind in California

When it comes to building energy efficient homes in California, De Young Properties is in a race with itself.

This summer, the family-run company claimed the title of largest zero-net energy home builder in the state with EnVision, 36 single-family homes in a southeast Clovis development.

Now it’s going bigger. The De Youngs have recently launched RidgeView, a 58-home development of zero net energy homes in north Clovis at Locan and Quincy avenues.

What is zero net energy? It’s simply the ability of the home to produce as much clean energy, typically through solar, as the homeowner can use in a year.

The RidgeView development will feature many of the same energy-saving features as its sister development, EnVision at Shaw and Highland avenues, but on a larger, more detailed scale.

The homes will also serve as a laboratory of sorts where researchers can collect data on how to improve energy efficiency and provide a template for how to meet a new state standard calling for solar power on most new homes by 2020.

The California Energy Commission’s goal is to slash energy usage in new homes by more than 50 percent. That will cut greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuel cars off the road.

For the De Youngs, meeting the state’s mandate is as important as providing solutions for a cleaner environment and building better, smarter homes.

“By building these large-scale communities, we are demonstrating to regional, statewide and even national builders that Zero Energy homes can be constructed affordably and we are hopefully inspiring other builders to follow in our footsteps,” said Brandon De Young, executive vice president of De Young Properties.

Among the features of the De Youngs’ energy efficient homes is the use of solar and installling a heat pump water heater that uses electricity instead of gas to heat the water. The heat pump pulls heat from the surrounding air and transfers it to water that’s stored in a tank.

The homes also have roof tiles to reflect heat and sunlight, high-grade insulation in the walls and attic and a high-efficiency air conditioning and heating system.

Each home will come with a built-in energy monitoring system that will allow the homeowners to view their real-time and historical home energy consumption through a smartphone app.

De Young Properties is partnering with ConSol, a Sacramento-based research and energy consulting firm, to collect data on how homeowners use energy, what time of the day they use it and figuring out how to slash energy use even more.

Garth Torvestad, senior technical consultant with ConSol, is overseeing the collection of the data that will be gathered from each of the home’s electrical circuits. Part of what researchers want to test is how accurate their models are for estimating home energy use.

“We are trying to look at behavioral things like how much power is being drained from the ac unit or how many loads of dishes do you do in your dishwasher in a given year,” Torvestad said. “Also critical is the time of the day that energy use occurs.”

Researchers know that the peak time for generating electricity from solar panels is about 3 p.m. And that has generally coincided with the peak energy usage in a home. But that model is changing, Torvestad said.

“The peak has shifted a lot to about 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. just at the same time as the generation of electricity has begun to die off,” Torvestad said. “We are really interested in finding ways to where we could avoid peak demand and shift the loads. Because we can’t change solar generation.”

De Young also is interested in learning how zero energy homes perform in day-to-day living.

“Not only will our team be learning, but the homeowners will have the opportunity to learn about their energy patterns, as well, which can help them save even more energy and money,” De Young said.

RidgeView homes start in the $400,000s and at least 40 percent of the available lots have been sold.

Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327@FresnoBeeBob

 

New energy-efficient home tract in north Clovis is largest of its kind in California, by Robert Rodriguez, The Fresno Bee, October 5, 2018.

Save the Date! November 13 – Fresno Community Meeting – Community Choice!

Calling all Central Valley CPX subscribers! The Clean Power Exchange team will be co-hosting a workshop along with Fresno EOC on Community Choice Energy in Fresno on November 13 from 6pm to 8pm at the Nielsen Center at 3110 W Nielsen Ave, Fresno.

This will be an opportunity to hear from your Fresno community leaders, experts in Community Choice Energy, and from others who have experience with this innovative program that can benefit the community in many ways.

Download the “Save-the-Date” HERE.

Stay tuned to CPX for more information coming soon!