Subscribe to the SJV Clean Energy News blog
Email:

Thank You for Support






Network With Us!

Home

Welcome to the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization (SJVCEO). We are a non-profit located in the heart of California tasked and dedicated to leading the eight-county region that makes up the San Joaquin Valley. Our vision is to help improve the quality of life by significantly increasing the Valley's use and reliance on clean energy (energy efficiency and renewable energy sources).

Read More

Clean Energy News - View Blog

EEK-O-Friendly Halloween

It's Halloween time, and if you know me well, you’ll be surprised to hear that I was once terrified of what eventually became one of my favorite holidays. I used to hide under my family’s kitchen table every time the doorbell rang. I’m not kidding; it really was that bad. That was long ago, though, and by the time I was in first grade, I ventured out in my Jasmine costume and faced the world of trick-or-treating, which has, since then, become a lot more realistic and spooky.

My peacock costume
Halloween 2011
I’d like everyone to give my mama a big round of applause, because nearly twenty years ago, she was ahead of the game, making Halloween a reuse and recycle kind of holiday. My Jasmine costume was ribbon wound around the legs of old baggy sweatpants paired with the matching boat-neck sweatshirt. A few years later, she made me Piglet ears using scraps of poster board and a headband. This has rubbed off on me, and never, in my entire life, have I purchased a Halloween costume nor have I used anything but a spare pillowcase to carry my candy. Sure, I bought a pair of cat ears here and a pair of wings there when I was in a time crunch, but for the most part, I LOVE making my Halloween costumes and in recent years my costumes have only become bigger and more extravagant art projects (see pictures) using things around the house or a few small findings at a fabric store.

Making Pebbles and Bamm-
Bamm costumes in 2012. Yes,
I used real chicken bones.
DIY costumes are one way to cut down on waste and consumerism, especially if you’re using old clothes and things around the house. If you’re not the sewing type, however, costume swaps have gained tons of momentum around the country. Throw a costume swap party with a bunch of your friends… you’re bound to find something you like or something you can easily turn into this year's Halloween costume of your dreams! Making your own face paint is a good way to be green, too, not to mention a good way to avoid carcinogens and chemicals. As long as you look into natural food coloring or make your own (to prevent any potential allergic reactions), you can just add a few drops to unscented lotion or pure cocoa butter (found at your local health food store) and you’ve got face paint!

Sugar-free, useful AND fun!
Photo Source: ebay.com
I’m pretty sure candy and Halloween treats are the hardest thing to give up. Personally, I can’t resist a Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. However, there are ways to make your Halloween healthier while simultaneously indulging yourself a little bit. Plus, you'll cut down on the number of wrappers going into a landfill this year. Our old SJVCEO coworker, Maureen, has a clever approach: she buys candy she doesn’t like so she’s not tempted to eat it all. Once my sister and I both left for college, my mom only bought two or three bags, set aside a few pieces for my dad, and closed up shop once the bags were empty. Another good idea is a combination of both of the above: buy a limited amount of candy that you won’t crave, get rid of it Halloween night and makesome funky AND healthy treats to keep around the house. School supplies, like fun pencils, are another sugar- and wrapper-free alternative. Or if you, like me, are a dark chocolate fiend, you can just get dark chocolate in bulk. It’s healthy so you don’t have to feel bad about sneaking some for yourself OR dishing it out to the neighborhood.

Here’s to a safe, fun and GREEN Halloween!

  Posted on October 31, 2014 | 7:09 am

Do You Need a Energy Tune Up?

Currently I live in a house with 3 housemates. The house was built in the early 90s and is about 1,800+ square feet. One of the housemates owns the house and has the responsibility of bills, bills, bills and taxes (yuck). What came into discussion late this summer was the wretched PG&E bills, which some might say is as hard a pill to swallow as taxes. It is safe to say that in the city of Fresno, residents are most dependent on their air conditioners around the June through August summer months. Our bill was no exception as we experienced an average of $278 a month with August reaching as high as $320. I sat with the homeowner in awe as to wonder what on earth we were doing that the bill was so high. After all, the house is empty 5 days a week between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm and we felt that was a significant amount of time to not be using any electricity that the bill shouldn't put us into traumatic shock.
                                                                         
After asking the homeowners several questions about the house: water heater, air conditioning, fridge, dishwasher, washer and dryer, windows, insulation and anything I could think of, I finally contacted my local Central Valley Energy Tune up (www.cvetu.com). This FREE service provides education to homeowners about energy savings opportunities in their homes through a variety of free energy efficiency service offerings.[1]I requested that we have the comprehensive “Whole-House Home Energy Survey” option which would include their inspection of the entire house including air conditioning system and attic. While the homeowners have not received their detailed reports, the “energy inspectors” did have input that provided some insight into how they could save on their energy bill.

First, the house faces south-southwest, so that means the 2 bedrooms that face the front of the house have direct experience with the Fresno summer sun from about 3:00 pm – to 6:00 pm where the average temperature this summer is in triple degrees side of the thermometer. So we have two rooms that have “sauna-like” temperatures that the house has to work harder to cool down. The proposed solutions: a) keep the door open so hot air doesn't stick; b) get low emissivity windows.

The second opportunity was definitely a shock and considering that I personally am not a homeowner, I find it interesting to discover that there lazy contractors did half of the job with the insulation. (See photo below)

Just randomly, the in the front part of the house, where the sun faces, the thermal imager registers that there’s no insulation. Hmm. Homeowners had no idea.While I am all for energy efficiency and insulation is one method to get there, I am baffled at the randomness and sloppiness of the contractors/installers themselves. Why would they all of a sudden just not finish insulating the house?  We’ll never know.

So here’s the lessons learned. First, Central Valley Home Energy Tune Up is FREE. You really can’t lose having an inspector review your home and receive a detailed report providing you with what’s going on with your home. Second, contractors suck.




[1]“Home Energy Tune-Up”, accessed October 13, 2014, http://www.cvetu.com/home-energy-tune-up

  Posted on October 27, 2014 | 5:03 pm

BioCNG™ For Your Car

Biogasused to be considered a non-reusable waste product, but over the last decade or so, a number of benefits of the gas have come to light and biogas is now recognized as a renewable energy source for fuel, electricity and thermal energy.

The folks at Unison Solutions in Dubuque, IA have created BioCNG™, a system that converts biogas into a gaseous fuel for vehicles, much like your typical clean natural gas (CNG). Jan Scott, President of Unison Solutions, gave a webinar – “Converting Biogas into Vehicle Fuel” – for Sustainable City Networkabout his company’s work, the process of turning biogas into usable vehicle fuel and some interesting facts about this renewable energy source.

The customary process for turning biogas into a renewable energy source seems simple enough. A lot needs to be removed from biogas after it has been extracted from landfills and digesters and before it can be used for energy. First, the biogas goes through hydrogen sulfide removal and then it is compressed. The gas needs to be completely dry, and so the moisture removal process is crucial. Once this is complete, the gas enters a Siloxane, Volatile Organice Compounds (VOC) and Carbon Dioxide removal process and then the fuel is ready for use in boilers, turbines and internal combustion (IC) engines. Unison Solutions notes that BioCNG™ is ready for use in CNG vehicle fueling stations and CNG vehicles at this point as well.
Source: BioCNG™

Jan Scott presented a bunch of inspiring tidbits about CNG in his webinar. The one that shocked me the most is that the US ranks 17th in the world for number of CNG vehicles on the roads (120,000 compared to more than 15.2 million worldwide). There are several existing reports about how much further along Europe is than we are in the states with these vehicles, but you’ll be interested to know that no European country is in the top five either. Nearly 19% of all CNG vehicles in the world are in Iran! Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, and India complete the top five. Most of these countries are developing nations, yet they’ve managed to bring far more clean vehicles and the infrastructure that supports them to their roads than we have.

In 2011 alone, CNG vehicles offset the use of over 350 MILLION gallons of gas. AND 40% of all waste haulers purchased in the same year were CNG. Imagine what we could do if we took alternative fuel and vehicles a little more seriously in this country. To top this all off, CNG costs at least $1.50-$2.00 less per GGE (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent: 120,000 BTU/Gallon) than gasoline does. That’s huge! (Source: Jan Scott's webinar)

Source: Unison Solutions

So, not to sound like a broken record, but we have a lot of concepts and technology out there to get cleaner vehicles on our country's roads. This stuff is far from untapped, but it can certainly seem that way when I look at how much other countries have accomplished in this area. America… let’s do better. Seriously.

  Posted on October 8, 2014 | 4:57 pm

Look For Your Climate Credit in October





       
Look for a Climate Credit from the State of California on Your October Utility Bill

This month your electricity bill will include a credit identified as the "California Climate Credit." Twice a year, in April and October*, your household and millions of others throughout the state will receive this credit on your electricity bills.  

The Climate Credit is a payment to Californians from a program designed to fight climate change by limiting the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that our largest industries put into the atmosphere.
This program is one of many developed as a result of landmark legislation called the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which puts California at the forefront of efforts to battle climate change. Other programs under this law increase clean, renewable forms of electricity, promote energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and require cleaner fuels, and more efficient cars and trucks.
Together, these programs will aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere–helping to clean the air and protect our food, water, and public health, as well as the beauty of our state.

The Climate Credit is designed to help you join with California in its efforts to fight climate change and clean the air. You can use the savings on your electricity bills however you choose, but you can save even more money by investing the bill savings from your Climate Credit in energy-saving home upgrades, including more efficient lights and appliances. You can find more information and receive rebates for these and many other energy efficient choices for your home at www.EnergyUpgradeCA.org/credit.

California's greenhouse gas reduction programs provide a range of powerful solutions to help slow climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing society. By gradually reducing emissions each year and moving to cleaner forms of energy, we are taking an important step to preserve the health and prosperity of our state for generations to come.

* Billing periods vary by utility and may not always coincide with a calendar month. If you don't see a Climate Credit in the bill that arrives in October, it will appear in the bill you receive in November.

The CPUC regulates privately owned electric companies and serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy. For more information about our work contact us at:
news@cpuc.ca.gov, 800-253-0500, or visit www.cpuc.ca.gov

  Posted on October 2, 2014 | 2:46 pm

SJVCEO Monthly Update

Our SJVCEO team continues to master the art of energy efficiency within our participating jurisdictions and put projects into motion. Each day we come to work with a new scope of work to tackle to save others dollars and energy, and enjoy every minute of it!

                A few of our team members have completed hands on training for integrated demand side management. This course was presented by Southern California Edison and was centered on response programs that can benefit municipality’s utility bills. The presenter also discussed distributed generation and energy storage technologies. The demand response historical data is currently being incorporated into the project tracking database that SJVCEO is creating for its municipalities and utility partners.

                Lastly, a few of our team members attended the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley Summit. 

Sarah Farell, our program administrator (and head of our Seattle office) was in town to attend the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley annual summit. This event provided an opportunity for individuals, local governments, educational institutions, and businesses alike to share currents about the Valley as well as potential and up-and-coming events and projects in industries such as agriculture, water, housing, workforce development, energy, transportation, health care, and education. The event also celebrates the work of a variety of groups. This year, a “kudos” award went to the co-chairs of the San Joaquin Valley Electric Vehicle Partnership, Jeannie Lam of Nissan North America and Terry O’Day of NRG eVgo. This Partnership was set up through the WIB RICO grant by its Action Team which includes the SJVCEO, Fresno State Office of Community and Economic Development, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Cities Coalition, Kern Community College District, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

As we move into the month of October our team is ramping up for all ten of our community outreach events. During these events our team goes out into the community and shows residence how easy it is to become energy efficient and save! Also, we have some great giveaway items that draw in the crowds and in return they walk away with a bit of energy knowledge. Stay tuned to the SJVCEO and VIEW website to see what upcoming events may be taking place in your neighborhood.

                With the mention of the website, that leads us to a very exciting update on our website work. SJVCEO and the VIEW partnership will be receiving a website an update this year. We will be rolling out both of our websites in the coming months, so stay tuned. All of us here at SJVCEO are very excited and we hope that you are too!


Stay tuned for next month’s update on what the SJVCEO team has been up to!


               

                

  Posted on September 30, 2014 | 12:24 pm