PG&E Teams With California Transit Agency for EV Pilot Program

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) will conduct an electric vehicle (EV) pilot with San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) in California to help prepare the agency for its long-term electric transportation needs.

With San Joaquin RTD, PG&E will test how smart charging and battery storage can lower operating costs and maximize efficiencies for the agency. PG&E will test, analyze and compare the economics for charging at various times of the day using different models with and without battery storage.

As part of the pilot, PG&E will fund up to five new electric bus chargers and a battery energy storage system. It will also fund and build the infrastructure from the electric grid to the chargers and storage system.

San Joaquin RTD already has electric buses in its fleet. The new program aligns with the agency’s goal of being powered by 100% EVs by 2025. It will also be a test case for PG&E’s new FleetReady program, recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. Through the program, PG&E will fund and aid installation of the infrastructure from the electric grid to the charger for customers with medium-duty, heavy-duty and off-road fleets, such as transit agencies, school districts and delivery fleets.

“There is a huge opportunity for electric transportation in California in the medium- to heavy-duty space. Through this pilot, we will test capabilities to make electric vehicles more viable for transit agencies while helping to connect underserved communities and make clean energy transportation options more accessible,” says Roy Kuga, vice president of grid integration and innovation at PG&E.

 

PG&E Teams With California Transit Agency for EV Pilot Program, by Betsy Lillian, NGT News, June 25, 2018.

 

Port Of Stockton Rolling Out Power On Wheels

STOCKTON (CBS13) — It’s a new push to curb pollution, at the Port of Stockton.

The bustling international shipping port, in the middle of a valley community, will be adding zero-emission, battery-powered cargo equipment to load and unload vessels.

“In California, there’s only two inland ports,” Port of Stockton director Richard Aschieris said. “We’re one of the two.”

“The air quality here is a challenge for everyone.”

The port of Stockton will be the first in the state to use a so-called “mobile power station,” made by a company called Dannar. The company’s website shows the power stations, on wheels, can be used to move heavy items themselves and can also charge other clean-energy vehicles using it battery storage.

The high-tech help comes a few years after an old coal power plant at the Port of Stockton also switched to renewable fuel. Now there is another new power supply.

“In this case, the power will be on wheels, and it will be able to move around,” Aschieris said.

The Port of Stockton sits near a residential neighborhood, where air quality is a concern.

Parents are happy to see the Port making environmentally-friendly strides.

”It’s good for the environment, it’s good for our kids, it’s healthy,” Neighbor Joe Esparza said.

The money for the green equipment is coming from state and regional air control districts.

 

Port Of Stockton Rolling Out Power On Wheels, by Steve Large, CBS Sacramento, June 25, 2018.

City Council President Esmeralda Soria To Celebrate Fresno’s Solar Prowess

Fresno was recognized by the Environment California Research & Policy Center as being a top city for solar power in the nation.

“Competing with the nation’s biggest cities, Fresno ranks as a strong solar power leader,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy and transportation program director for the center. “By tapping into more of our vast energy potential, we can benefit from healthier air and fight climate change.”

The report from the center, “Shining Cities 2018,” which came out in April, found that the city of Fresno had 343 watts of solar photovoltaic capacity installed per resident. That rate puts Fresno higher than any other city in the continental United States, and behind Honolulu, which has 606 watts per person.

Fresno City Council President Esmeralda Soria will hold a conference today to celebrate the recognition.

“This is a time to recognize the accomplishments of our city’s cumulative efforts in conversion to renewable power options,” Soria said.

The center cited the streamlined and standardized permitting process for the city’s ability to get solar installed.

 

Soria To Celebrate Fresno’s Solar Prowess, by Edward Smith, The Business Journal, June 13, 2018.

Kern County named wind turbine capital of the world

Remember when oil was king in Kern County? Maybe it still is, but Kern is the king of wind power.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Kern has more wind turbines — 4,581 — than any other county in the nation.

The USGS has created a database that mapped all 57,636 of the nation’s wind machines, Energy Digital reported. Not only does the Golden Empire have more turbines, the USGS says it has the highest turbine density in the world.

That’s a lot of juice.

According to the survey, Kern has a total wind power capacity of 4 gigawatts, and more turbines than the entire northeast region of the United States.

To put this in perspective, there are a billion watts in one gigawatt. That’s a lot of light bulbs. Now multiply by four.

That’s enough to power between 1.2 million and 2.9 million homes, depending on the vagaries of seasonal demand. Obviously, most of that power is being exported outside of Kern.

Riverside County ranked second with 2,373 turbines, while Alameda County ranked third with 1,430 turbines. Nolan County in Texas ranked fourth with 1,374 turbines.

The USGS generated the database in partnership with the Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the American Wind Energy Association.

 

 

Kern County named wind turbine capital of the world, by Steven Mayer, Bakersfield.com, May 17, 2018.

Aera, GlassPoint to build state’s largest solar project

Kern County produces more renewable energy than any other county in California.

In 2011, the Kern County Board of Supervisors established a goal to have 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy permitted by 2015.

According to the county’s reporting last year, the county had exceeded that goal by permitting more than 11,000 megawatts of all types and sizes of renewable energy resources. More than $28 billion has been invested in the county by companies that are developing renewable energy projects.

The California Energy Commission reported in December 2016 that both incorporated and unincorporated areas of Kern County had 142 wholesale renewable projects online, with a total generating capacity of 5,293 megawatts. In addition, there are more than 24,000 distributed generation systems, such as rooftop solar systems that are capable of providing up to 305 megawatts of capacity, installed at homes and buildings in the county.

Also, there are 25 solar PV projects, with a combined capacity of 1,540 megawatts, and 12 wind energy projects, with a combined capacity of 1,519 megawatts, with environmental permits in the county that could become operational in the future.

Just a few years ago, solar was barely a blip on the screen when it came to computing California’s energy production. In 2010, only about 15 percent of the state’s power plants generated electricity from renewable sources. And those sources were mostly wind and geothermal. Solar generated less than one-half of 1 percent.

Today, renewable energy sources generate about 27 percent, with solar accounting for 10 percent. The solar figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of rooftop solar systems that produce an additional 4 percent. The contribution of solar continues to grow mainly because its production costs are plummeting as the result of the declining cost of solar panels. The efficiency of converting sunlight into electricity also is increasing.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost of using solar to power residential, commercial and utility-scale projects declined 73 percent between 2010 and 2016. The cost today is about 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is the amount needed to light a 100-watt bulb for 10 hours.

In the midst of the state’s solar energy boom comes word that Bakersfield-based Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, and GlassPoint Solar, the leading supplier of solar energy for the oil and gas industry, are combining forces to build California’s largest solar energy project.

Located in the Belridge oilfield, about 35 miles west of Bakersfield, the integrated solar project will be the first of its kind in the world to use solar steam and solar electricity to power oil field operations, while reducing the field’s air polluting carbon emissions. Ground will be broken on the 770-acre project in 2019, with production of steam and energy expected to begin in 2020.

According to the project’s proponents, the Belridge Solar project will deliver the largest peak energy output of any solar plant in California.

“Aera is committed to safe, responsible operations and is thrilled to extend our environmental leadership by using solar to power our production. Adding solar energy at Belridge allows us to continue to lead the way in the safest, most environmentally responsible energy extraction there is,” said Aera Energy President and CEO Christina Sistrunk in a news release last fall.

Belridge Solar will consist of an 850-megawatt solar thermal facility, producing 12 million barrels of steam per year, and a 26.5-megawatt photovoltaic facility that will generate electricity. The solar-generated steam and electricity will reduce the use of natural gas in the oilfield’s operations.

The facility is projected to save more than 376,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, offsetting the equivalent of 80,000 cars, or more than one-third of the cars on the road in Bakersfield today. The project is also expected to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in California’s oil and gas supply chain and supporting industries. An estimated 500 jobs alone are expected to be created during the plant’s construction.

“GlassPoint is thrilled to partner with Aera to scale our solar oilfield technology in California and deliver meaningful carbon reductions. By harnessing the power of the sun to produce oil, oil operators can efficiently reduce emissions using advanced technology, creating long-term benefits for the local economy and environment,” said Sanjeev Kumar, GlassPoint senior vice president, Americas. “Our partnership with Aera demonstrates the growing energy convergence where renewables and traditional energy leaders are working together to address some of the biggest challenges of our time.”

GlassPoint’s enclosed-trough solar technology provides low-cost renewable energy for extracting heavy oil, which accounts for half of California’s crude oil production. Heavy oil is produced by injecting steam into the reservoir to heat the oil so it can be pumped to the surface.

The process, known as thermal-enhanced oil recovery, typically generates steam using natural gas. By harnessing the sun’s thermal energy to replace the combustion of natural gas, GlassPoint is enabling Aera to reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint at Belridge, according to a company news release.

In 2011, GlassPoint unveiled its first commercial project with Berry Petroleum in Kern County. Following the success of the pilot project, GlassPoint built a project in Oman and currently is building Miraah, a project with Petroleum Development Oman that will produce more than 1 gigawatt of peak thermal energy. It is expected to be one of the world’s largest solar plants of any kind.

The World Economic Forum recently recognized GlassPoint as a 2016 Technology Pioneer for its role in enabling more economical and sustainable oil production.

 

Aera, GlassPoint to build state’s largest solar project, by Dianne Hardisty, The Bakersfield Californian, June 11, 2018.

The clean-energy home of the future … outside Fresno

Starting in 2020, California officials want all new houses built in the state to generate their own solar power during the day and sip electricity at night, their energy use cut by highly efficient insulation.

Brandon De Young figures he has that deadline beat by more than a year.

The Fresno-area developer is building an entire neighborhood of 36 homes capable of generating as much energy as they use in a year, a concept known as zero net energy. Designed with the help of an energy-industry think tank, the homes won’t just meet the state’s 2020 building requirements — they’ll exceed them.

“This is how to advance, how to change the way we build homes and bring it into the modern age,” said De Young, whose family-run business, De Young Properties, was founded 44 years ago.

The company started including solar arrays on all of its homes more than two years ago and first tried building a zero net energy house in 2013. When the California Energy Commission voted this month to require solar on almost all new houses after Jan. 1, 2020 — and upped efficiency standards for the homes themselves — the company already knew how to make the new rules work.

“We in the building industry have known what this upcoming code would require for at least one or two years now, because they develop it so far in advance,” De Young said. “I don’t think builders will have a challenge meeting it.”

But the new standards come at a price. By the commission’s estimate, they will add $9,500 to the up-front cost of a new home, at a time when many Californians already can’t afford to buy. The homes will save money over time by slashing their owners’ utility bills, a big selling point in the broiling Central Valley, but the higher initial price may pose a problem for builders and buyers alike.

“Trying to swallow the pill of adding $10,000 to the cost of a home when profits are already getting squeezed — that’s going to be tough for a lot of builders,” De Young said.

The new neighborhood under construction in Clovis (Fresno County), called De Young EnVision, will operate as a kind of real-world lab for the Electric Power Research Institute.

The Palo Alto nonprofit, which performs research for the utility industry, wanted to see what would happen when an entire community is built to zero net energy standards. The institute will monitor and analyze data on how much electricity the homes produce on their own and use from the grid.

“It’s supposed to be a snapshot of what we’ll see in 2020, so that everyone can get prepared for it — homeowners, builders, utilities,” said Ram Narayanamurthy, a technical executive on the institute’s power utilization team.

And yet, neither the institute nor the company wants the neighborhood’s future residents to feel like lab rats. Although they are still under construction, about three-quarters of the houses have already been sold, De Young said, at prices ranging from $350,000 to $450,000. The first of them should be ready for occupancy in the third quarter of this year.

“The biggest thing is to make sure that the homeowners don’t feel like they’re in an experiment,” Narayanamurthy said. “This is going to be their home.”

The Energy Commission’s new standards have been widely embraced by developers, solar companies and renewable power advocates, who see in them a potent way to fight climate change. Buildings represent California’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, behind only transportation, when the electricity they use is factored in.

And yet some critics have questioned the wisdom of requiring a specific technology — rooftop solar arrays — on almost every new home. UC Davis energy economist James Bushnell noted that other, larger forms of solar generation, such as large-scale photovoltaic power plants that sell electricity to utility companies, are much more cost-effective.

While advocates counter that home solar arrays reduce the need for costly new infrastructure, like electric transmission lines, the fact that people still argue about the technology’s full costs and benefits indicates that it shouldn’t be required, he said. Although the Energy Commission’s new building standards leave some wiggle room — for instance, allowing a developer to create a shared solar array for a neighborhood — it would still require panels on most new single-family homes.

“If there’s room for debate, we shouldn’t be mandating a technology,” Bushnell said. He’s more comfortable with other elements of the new building code that require better insulation and windows to keep a home’s energy use low.

“Those are no-brainer choices that people would make, and we’re saving them time by mandating it,” Bushnell said. “But rooftop solar doesn’t come close to that.”

Energy Commission members, however, felt that solar prices had fallen far enough in recent years to make the requirement cost-effective and were likely to fall more.

“There’s a virtuous cycle in all this,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister. “We’re at a great place in the solar market, and we already produce great buildings in California.”

De Young EnVision homes will feature solar arrays varying in size from 5 to 8.5 kilowatts. The arrays will come from Tesla, the electric automaker that bought SolarCity in 2016. Some of the homes will have batteries, Narayanamurthy said.

None of them will use natural gas to heat water or air, relying instead on electricity and heat pumps. Buyers will have the option of a gas range on the stove or an electric induction cooktop, De Young said.

“It’s a great technology, but we understand that not everyone knows about it,” he said. “People love their gas cooktops around here.”

The clean-energy home of the future … outside Fresno, by David R. Baker, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 18, 2018.

Another huge solar farm proposed for Kings County

SF-based First Solar has filed for a conditional-use permit to build a 300-megawatt solar farm on 2,103 acres. The project, named Daylight Legacy Solar, is being proposed along the Avenal Cutoff, following on the filing of another 300-megawatts project by Recurrent Energy, RE Slate, last month. The proposal continues a trend of construction of solar farms on water-short farmland in the western part of Kings County.

The First Solar project located at 20630 Nevada Ave., could be in service by 2021 says First Solar manager Louis DeRosa in an April 18 letter. Both the First Solar and Recurrent plans are the largest proposed yet in the county and each includes a battery storage component.

The Central Valley is approaching the equivalent in megawatts-to-power generated by the soon to be decommissioned, Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The renewable energy projects continue to pile up in Kings County with solar projects in the works or completed, approaching 2,000-megawatts, covering some 19,000 acres.

The Kings County Planning Commission has yet to schedule a date for a hearing on the Daylight project.

Read full update here.

Another huge solar farm proposed for Avenal Cutoff, by John Lindt, Hanford Sentinel, May 17, 2018. 

California Public Utilities Commission Seeks Student Intern

The California Public Utilities Commission has announced a student internship position that focuses on renewable energy efforts in the San Joaquin Valley.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2672 requires the Commission to explore the economic feasibility of various options to bring affordable energy options to residents of disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley, many of whom lack access to natural gas and who are reliant on propane and wood for cooking and heating. This unique effort lies at the intersection of environmental justice, clean energy, electrification, energy efficiency, and distributed generation, and offers an opportunity to directly and positively impact the lives of Californians who are disproportionately impacted by poverty and pollution. Currently, the CPUC is evaluating options for pilot projects that would extend the benefits of cleaner, more affordable energy to San Joaquin Valley communities, as well as designing a data gathering strategy. These pilot projects and data gathering efforts will directly inform Commission decisions on the best ways to provide assistance to a broader array of communities.

Under the supervision of a Senior Analyst, a student will assist the CPUC in its ongoing work to increase access to affordable, clean energy in disadvantaged communities the San Joaquin Valley. Specific tasks may include:

  • Collaborating with utilities, researchers, non-profits and other stakeholders to design pilot projects that explore novel ways of expanding access to affordable, clean energy in disadvantaged communities
  • Creating data gathering plans and analyzing community and household-level data to assess community energy conditions, needs, and expected benefits of program participation
  • Assessing cost effectiveness and economic impacts of programs on non-participating utility customers
  • Organizing workshops and community meetings
  • Developing website content to share information with the public
  • TrackingCPUCproceedings and assisting staff with analysis of other customer generation projects and policies as time allows, including Net Energy Metering and Community Solar
  • Assistants will also have the opportunity to participate inCPUClearning activities and will be exposed to a broad range of cutting-edge energy policy issues
  • Assistants may have the opportunity to travel to communities in the San Joaquin Valley for workshops and tours.

For more information and application details, please click this link.

Saving Money With An Electric Vehicle In The San Joaquin Valley

As a child, Efrain Anguiano remembers seeing trash and plastic on the shores of Michoacán, Mexico brought in by the ocean. Even at a young age, Efrain knew something was not right with that picture. He saw a future that would have a bad impact on the planet. Today, with solar power and an electric vehicle, he’s cleaning the air around his San Joaquin Valley home.

In the 26 years Efrain, 51, has been in the United States, most of the jobs he worked required him to be out in the fields. It was heavy duty work, but Efrain knew he had to make a living somehow. After years in the fields, he now works as a sales agent for a local Latino magazine covering communities from Winton to Modesto in the San Joaquin Valley.

Now living in Winton in Merced County, Efrain – a kind, soft-spoken man who radiates enthusiasm for everything in his life — is doing what he can to make the planet a little greener, with a combination of clean power and an electric vehicle.

Efrain started his clean power journey two years ago when a friend told him about an incentive program that could potentially set him up with an electric vehicle to replace his old, polluting Ford Aerostar van.  He reached out to Valley Clean Air Now (Valley CAN) and applied. Funded by money raised from polluters under California’s climate and clean energy laws, these EV incentives help low-income Californians access clean transportation that they otherwise couldn’t afford.

To qualify for the incentive program, applicants must meet certain requirements. At the time Efrain applied, these included coming from a low-income family and owning a car that was a 1986 or older model (this has now changed to cover vehicles from 1999 and before).

Once Valley CAN verified that Efrain qualified, he was able to replace his old, creaking van with a 2012 Nissan Leaf that cost him just $2,600. The electric vehicle was originally priced at $12,100, but the program covered $9,500 of the cost.

“[The electric vehicle] exceeded my expectations,” Efrain said.

“We drive it around town to take the kids to school or going to the store.”

The Leaf’s battery charge “lasts a lot of hours if driven locally,” he continued. “It will last about 50 or so miles if driven on the freeway.”

But an electric vehicle does have to be charged. That became a challenge for the Anguiano family because the nearest charging station was in Modesto, 30 miles from their home in Winton, meaning they used up much of the Leaf’s charge just going back and forth. While charging stations are expanding rapidly in California, they hadn’t reached Efrain’s community yet. But things changed for the better when GRID Alternatives in Fresno reached out to Efrain.

GRID Alternatives is a national leader in making clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs accessible to low-income communities and communities of color. Through its unique, people-first model, GRID puts money back into families’ pockets and reduces the energy cost burden for housing providers.

The nonprofit solar installer partners with affordable housing organizations, job training groups, government agencies, municipalities, utilities and local communities to make a solar win for everyone. Programs GRID Alternative offers include no-cost solar installations for low-income households and hands-on solar job training to connect people to clean energy jobs.

Six months after the family bought their electric car through its partnership with Valley CAN, GRID Alternatives contacted Efrain and proposed to install solar panels in their house. Efrain never dreamed of having solar panels installed in his home because he knew it was an expensive process. But with GRID and its no-cost solar installations for low-income households, it became a reality. Just like the EV rebates, the solar installation (like much of GRID’s work) was funded through money collected from polluters under California climate and clean energy laws.

“We’re saving about 75 percent off our electric bill” thanks to the solar panels. We have more money to buy things my family needs.” – Efrain Anguiano

Most importantly, GRID Alternatives went beyond just installing the solar panels and also installed a car charger in Efrain’s house. With a home charger now at their disposal, the family no longer has to make the trip to Modesto to charge their car. The Leaf is literally powered by the sun.

Efrain added he likes using the electric vehicle because it doesn’t emit any toxic gases into the air, which in the San Joaquin Valley is a big deal.

Studies like the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report show that the San Joaquin Valley has the worst air pollution in the entire nation, with one in six children having asthma. While neither of Efrain’s two children, age 16 and 10, have asthma, the family still experiences the effects the valley air can have on someone’s health.

Efrain’s wife, Reyna, 50, has allergies that are so bad due to the combination of pollen and the valley’s air pollution that she has to see a specialist for treatments. Reyna has been seeing her allergy specialist for two and a half years now.

Efrain knows driving an electric vehicle won’t fix the San Joaquin Valley’s air problem by itself, but hopes it can be the start of better future.

“I see a future where only certain vehicles use hydrocarbons,” he said in previous interview, “and I see a future where people’s cars are improved. I see a good future because I see how technology is advancing in a fantastic way.”

Saving Money With An Electric Vehicle In The San Joaquin Valley, by Johnsen Del Rosario, UpliftCa.com, May 2018.

The City of Hanford Partners with California Choice Energy Authority for Community Choice Aggregation Feasibility Study

The City of Hanford has selected California Choice Energy Authority (CCEA) to conduct a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) feasibility study. On Tuesday, January 16, the Hanford City Council authorized an agreement with CCEA for consulting services that will determine the City’s aptitude for a successful CCA.

CCA programs allow local governments to purchase energy and generate electricity for residents and business owners within City limits. CCAs serve as an alternative to investor-owned utility companies like Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), Hanford’s current electricity provider.

“Current and new industries coming to the City of Hanford have sizable energy demands. Part of the reason we have decided to consider CCA is to gain an edge in economic development and help businesses prosper in our community,” said Darrel Pyle, City of Hanford City Manager.

To determine the feasibility of a Hanford CCA program, CCEA will request the City’s electricity load data from PG&E. CCEA’s partner and industry expert, Pacific Energy Advisors (PEA), will provide the technical expertise to analyze the City’s data, estimate total usage and prepare a pro-forma among other analysis necessary to confirm the City’s feasibility for implementing CCA.

CCEA will also develop the City’s CCA implementation plan based on information gathered from the feasibility study. The implementation plan, which the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) requires for launch of a CCA, outlines the organizational structure and operational functions of the potential CCA. The CPUC must approve the City’s implementation plan before the CCA can be formed. Approval does not bind the City to implementation of a CCA program.

“Partnering with CCEA has prevented us from having to learn from our own mistakes. I have been able to accelerate my education in CCA by calling upon the CCEA team who already has four years of experience in CCA,” added Pyle. “There are great CCA success stories out there. It’s important to reach out to our counterparts who have been successful with CCA programs; they can help us ease our way through the CCA process.”

CCEA is a pioneering Community Choice Aggregation solution for cities in California. The hybrid joint powers authority provides an innovative model that retains local control of utility services for cities who partner with CCEA while alleviating operational risk and administrative overhead associated with the implementation of CCA. For more information, please visit https://californiachoiceenergyauthority.com/

 

The City of Hanford Partners with California Choice Energy Authority for Community Choice Aggregation Feasibility Study, by PublicCEO Staff, PublicCEO, May 10, 2018.