AB 32

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:

1. California Adaptation Forum: Last call for discounted rates for September’s 2nd California Adaptation Forum! Register for the Forum by Wednesday, August 12 and receive $50 OFF One-Day and Full Forum rates! The Forum is an incredible opportunity to connect with hundreds of climate leaders from across the state. See more opportunities, a full Forum program, Forum events, plenary speakers and partners, and more.

2. Statewide Codes & Standards Team Conference Call: The Statewide Codes & Standards team works to develop resources to help local governments consider, adopt, and measure energy-saving successes from reach codes. If you are a local government interested in learning more, and/or hearing troubleshooting and success stories from other local governments across the state, please contact the Coordinator at jdecker@lgc.org to RSVP to this call.

3. New CEC Funding for EE Tech Demonstrations: On August 1st, the California Energy Commission (CEC) announced a grant funding opportunity for Emerging Energy Efficient Technology Demonstrations (GFO-16-304), and will be holding a pre-bid conference workshop August 11th.

4. CEC LinkedIn Networking Group for Open GFOs: Looking to find partners for the above grant funding opportunity? The California Energy Commission Networking Hub on LinkedIn has set up networking groups for the Technology Demonstration GFO, and three others.

5. Federal Gov. Energy Webinars this August: A list of August 2016 webinars is now available from federal agencies providing support on the EPA benchmarking tool Portfolio Manager, data center energy efficiency, EE financing, community resiliency through EE, resilient solar retrofits, waste management, and more.

6. What’s New with AB 802? In case you missed the July 22nd workshop held by the California Energy Commission on AB 802 implementation (Project Title, “Building Energy Use Disclosure and Public Benchmarking Program Mandated under Assembly Bill 802”), a transcript is now available from the CEC.

7. More on AB 802: Also in case you missed it: additional guidance linked to energy savings measurement was released in the CPUC’s recent decision providing guidance on Program Administrator EE business plans. (Need a refresher on AB 802?)

8. SB 350 Low-Income Barriers Workshop 8/12: The California Energy Commission conducting a workshop August 12th to gather input on barriers faced by low-income and disadvantaged communities to investing in energy efficiency and weatherization, installing solar photovoltaic and other renewable generating resources, and contracting opportunities for small businesses. This input will be included in the “Senate Bill 350 Barriers Study,” required by the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.

9. AB 32 EJAC Meeting 8/11-12: The AB 32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (Committee) will be meeting on August 11, 2016 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (PDT) and August 12, 2016 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm (PDT) in Huron, CA.

10. Financing Tools for Local Gov Webinar 8/25This webinar will discuss the various tools and products that the State of California is making available to local governments to promote clean energy projects for residents and business owners, and will showcase a new financing marketplace for finding energy project-related financing solutions. (Go Green Financing is a program under Energy Upgrade California, administered by the Center for Sustainable Energy.)

11. PACE’s Value to the Real Estate Market: Event/Webinar 8/18This CEFAC event and webinar will explore the recent amendments to the residential PACE program, along with updates on consumer protection, regulatory changes, and market growth in California. Join the Center for Sustainable Energy for a panel discussion that will cover these topics and validate why PACE is vital to the residential energy efficiency financing market.

12. EV’s Role in ZNE: Webinar 8/17: The Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) invites city and county staff, contractors, architects, and developers to a free webinar August 17th on how electric vehicles (EVs) can help support zero net energy (ZNE) goals.

13. Energy Code Ace Webinar 8/23: We heard great feedback from local governments on energy code expert Gina Rodda’s presentation on energy code compliance tools at this year’s SEEC Forum. Now, Rodda will be teaching a “not-your-average webinar” on what’s new in the 2016 code in two sessions August 23rd.  Get the word out to your buildings departments!

14. CivicSpark Project Lessons Learned Webinars 8/23-8/24: CivicSpark is a Governor’s Initiative AmeriCorps program that provides capacity-building support to local governments to accelerate California’s response and resiliency to climate change. These webinars aim to provide a snapshot of some of the accomplishments of the 2015-16 service year, with an emphasis on sharing lessons learned and best practices.

15. New Integrative Business Model for ZNE: In the Rocky Mountain Institute’s new Insight Brief, An Integrative Business Model for Net Zero Energy Districts, RMI presents an innovative business model for developing net zero energy or ultra-low energy districts and details how pursuing net zero energy is not a cost, but rather a significant value driver.

16. EE Shows Its $ Value in SF Real Estate: As covered by BizJournal’s July 28th article, funding green upgrades is made easier as the market shows the value of and desire for energy efficient real estate.

17. California Releases Sustainable Freight Action Plan: In response to an Executive Order issued by the Governor last year, the state has released the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, a comprehensive document that serves as a blueprint for transforming the state’s multi-billion dollar freight transport system into one that is environmentally cleaner, more efficient, and more economically competitive than it is today.

18. Energy Transition Podcast on EE: In a recent episode of the Energy Transition Show, Chris Nelder speaks to energy efficiency expert Matt Golden about raising the profile of energy efficiency, sharing that energy efficiency (looking nationally) has been disproportionately neglected considering its extreme value, and also stating that efforts to raise the profile to date have failed. Matt Golden shares some interesting food for thought.

19. Job announcement: The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization (SJVCEO) is hiring for a Project Analyst! Learn more here.

20. RFP announcement: The City of San Jose’s RFP for Environmental Sustainability Plan Consultant Services closes August 12th.

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website – including past WEEkly Updates.

That’s is all for this week!

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly updates:

1. Call for Posters: Today is the final day to submit an idea to showcase what happening in your city, county or COG at the SEEC Forum! Learn more and submit an idea here

2. EECC Update: The Public Sector Stage 2 meeting of the EE Coordinating Committee was held this week to review what problem statements and solutions Program Administrators are identifying as they plan energy efficiency programming that will be available to us all in 2017 and beyond. Some meeting highlights, links to presentations, and instructions on how to submit a comment, are here. Other meetings (including Workforce Education & Training, Industrial, Emerging Technologies, and Codes & Standards) also took place this week – you can find meeting presentations on the EECC website at caeecc.org. Looking for background on the EECC process? Click here.

3. Federal Webinars: a list of energy-related webinars targeting state, local, and tribal governments (including financing for tribes, and EPA Portfolio Manager training's) released this week is available here. For more on available training, click here.

4. Berkeley’s New Resiliency Plan: This week the City of Berkeley’s Chief Resilience Officer shared with CityLab on the City’s new Resilience Strategy, of which energy and water savings and clean energy investments are key.

5. More on EE, Demand Response, and Resiliency: More coverage on California cities taking action on resiliency, and new resources for EE, demand response, and microgrids to support resiliency can be found here.

6. Valuing EE: Home Energy Score Resources: New resources are available to connect residents, local governments, and real estate, inspection, and other building professionals with the U.S. DOE Home Energy Score: click here to review. Looking for more on transparency, market drivers, and valuing EE? Click here.

7. Committing to the Plan: This week, the City of San Diego made its Climate Action Plan legally binding in a powerful bipartisan agreement.  The Plan is making headlines for its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2035. For EE strategies and more on what San Diego’s Mayor Faulconer is calling “common sense strategies” that save taxpayers’ money, click here.

8. Implementing the Plan: Moving from planning to implementation takes a group effort. San Diego is taking this a step further by looking for the best and brightest ideas for climate action plan implementation through a Smart City Hackathon.

9. Heat pump application review: As heat pump technology improves, ACEEE considers the changing value propositions and economics of deployment. Read more on ACEEE’s blog here.

10. One year later: The City of Los Angeles has released its first annual report on its Sustainable City Plan, highlighting expansions in solar, energy storage, and savings of 912 gigawatt-hours (GWh).  

11. High Opportunity Programs and Projects: Lots of developments in utility and CPUC planning for HOPPs this week. For SoCal Gas’s presentation on its multi-family offerings proposal, click here. For more on HOPPs, click here.

12. IEPR Update Update: I shared in a past Update the Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) Update plans for this year; the CEC has released an update to that schedule, available here.

13. For Water: Better Infrastructure, Not More Infrastructure: For water and energy efficiency, the former CEO of El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board talks strategy and best practices – including deployment of smart water management software.

14. An innovative approach to small business EE: Retired engineers in Michigan are working together to connect small businesses with energy savings opportunities. Check out Midwest Energy News to learn more.

15. Energy Economics Training: Registration is open for a Executive-level crash course in the economics of energy and the environment at UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute at Haas: for more information click here.

16. The Latest on CPUC ZNE Action Planning: An interactive workshop will be held in San Francisco on May 12th to review the approach of developing Zero Net Energy (ZNE) Districts. Click here to learn more and to register.

17. More ZNE resources: The New Buildings Institute will be holding a ZNE policies webinar May 18th.

18. Sustainable Freight Planning: the state released a Sustainable Freight Plan this week in response to Governor Brown’s B-32-15 Executive Order. For more information click here.

19. More on Clean Vehicles: learn more about the opportunity for corporate leadership on clean vehicles in this Environmental Leader article.

20. Environmental Justice Public Meeting: the AB 32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) will be meeting on May 10th next week: click here for more information.

21. EPIC Feedback: The CEC is seeking feedback on a draft solicitation targeting new energy technologies for industrial, agricultural, and water sectors under the EPIC Program. For more info, and a link to the EPIC Program’s recently-released Annual Report, click here.

22. CivicSpark Recruitment: The CivicSpark program is recruiting fellows, and will be hosting several informational webinars for fellows this May. Click here for more information and please share with your educational partners! (Information on how request a Fellow is available through the same link – scroll down.)

As always, you can keep track of relevant events by connecting to the EE Events Calendar, and find more resources being added daily on the EECoordinator website

That’s all for today!

Big Week for Climate Change: President has a plan, House may vote to slash renewable funding and reads some white papers, Senate tries to keep up with CA and more.

See Bloomberg BNA Climate Blog for full story

Week of June 24th: House may consider a bill that would cut Energy Department spending on renewables in half. We're talking $1.4 billion in DOE cuts, including $911 million for renewable energy programs.  Not all too happy for that? Contact your house representative and let them know how you feel.  In fact, I paused from writing this post to email Congressman Nunes. Remember, your House Representative works for you!

Tuesday, June 25th: President Obama to lay out his vision for how the United States addresses climate change.  Want brownie points?  Be prepared and read the Energy and Climate Report article on Politico.

Likely to be overshadowed by a certain speech (see above) the Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy will hold an oversight hearing to determine two bills: S. 1084 to establish the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renwable Energy as the lead fed agency for coordinating and promoting energy efficiency retrofits in schools (hello, CA AB-39) and S. 717 to direct DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz to establish a pilot program to award grants to nonprofit organizations to retrofit their buildings (hello office upgrade!).

And because everybody wants to talk on Tuesday, the Senate and Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on "Improving Forest Management on Federal Lands."

CARB is hosting a workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Cal/EPA HQ Building in Sacramento on the state's cap-and-trade program for GHG emissions.

The California Public Utilities Commission to host Behavior Change Workshop at PG&E's Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco (Day two on June 26).

The California Energy Commission will host an event in Fresno (really CA agencies?  I don't have the staff to cover all these meetings!) on the Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Program for Existing Buildings Draft Action Plan (AB 758).   

The United States Energy Association will host an event in Washington, D.C., on "The Cost of Carbon Capture and Storage on Fossil Fuel Power Plants."

Wednesday, June 26th: the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power to hold hearing on "An Overview of the Renewable Fuel Standard: Government Perspectives." The hearing will cover a reveiw of white papers (fun!) to help determine if the standard needs to be revised.

CARB is keeping busy and hosting a regional workshop in Diamond Bar to discuss the proposed 2013 scoping plan to implement the Global Warming Solutions Act of 20006 (A.B. 32).

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) will hold a webinar on "Natural Gas to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Energy Efficiency and Combined Heat and Power."

Thursday, June 27th: Resources for the Future (RFF) , panel discussion in Washington D.C. will cover "Managing the Risks of Shale Gas Development

The best way to use California's carbon windfall

New studies show that using revenue from California's landmark carbon-trading system for energy efficiency and residential renewable energy programs would yield the biggest bang for the buck, and have the strongest chance of surviving a legal challenge.

Nonprofit group Next 10 commissioned studies to determine the best use of proceeds from the cap-and-trade program effective 2013. Most of the models end up generating new revenue for the state through economic growth and new jobs, with programs that improve residential lighting and make other energy-slashing upgrades generating the most. Here is a link to the report that sums up the findings.

University of California, Berkeley, and Resources for the Future examined ways state officials could spend money - the group used the sum of $100 million although the real figure could be higher - raised by the sale of emissions allowances to non-utililty entitites.
The teams modeled scenarios ranging from giving the money to taxpayers in the form of rebates to creating green lending programs to using it on portions of the high-speed rail project. A rebate program would be the most risky legally because it doesn't directly support the greenhouse gas reduction goals of AB 32, the researchers determined.

Energy-efficiency projects, however, could create many more jobs and pump more money into state coffers, depending upon the program. The strongest potential and least legal risk appear to be with programs that fund energy upgrades in lower to middle-income households.

Funding components of high speed rail with carbon-trading revenue would create fewer jobs and less money for the state. It also would be more risky legally, the analysts discovered.

"The most pro-growth options would invest auction proceeds in expanding energy efficiency and renewable technology at the household level," said the study's author, University of California professor David Roland-Holst.

This San Francisco Chronicle story and  this Sacramento Business Journal piece go into more detail about cap and trade, including other possible impacts - and offsets  - on consumers.

The carbon auction is new, so predicting the outcome of legal challenges is itself a challenge. The authors concluded, however, that the cap-and-trade program was not intended to raise revenue, and thus is not a tax. "If the program is challenged in court, we consider spending scenairos that support the primary goal of AB 32 - to cut or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions - to be relatively 'low risk' from a legal standpoint," said co-author and law professor Daniel Farber of UC Berkeley.

The conclusions of the research don't surprise us. Our nonprofit focuses much of its work on energy-efficiency programs that cut power bills. It is almost shocking the amount of money seemingly simple adjustments can make. The city of Fresno, where I live, crunched utility data and discovered that a widespread energy-saving program could pump $260 million into the local economy. Talk about an economic stimulus!

That is why energy efficiency is called the "low hanging fruit" of the clean energy movement.

Powerful clean energy policy 'works out' in California

The California Energy Commission wants nothing less than a reduction in overall greenhouse gas in the state.

The agency's approach is multipronged but hinges on energy efficiency. The state seeks to reduce CO2 emissions about 20 percent to a target 426 million metric tons annually by 2020.

The question is: Can it be done? State leaders believe so and are encouraging local officials to join the effort. California's Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, passed in 2006, also sets a goal of 33 percent renewable energy generation by 2020.

Benchmarking energy

A key part of this plan involves going city by city and charting energy use. It's believed that once cities and counties learn how much they're actually spending on electricity, their leaders will do something about it, putting big power users on a diet and drafting sustainability plans that actually work.

"Decisions about community planning and land use, as well as transportation infrastructure and electricity infrastructure, have a dramatic impact on our ability to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions," says the state's Energy Action Plan update report from 2008.

Each local government in the state will be producing its own community-wide energy action plan, spelling out exactly how it will pursue sustainability, reduce waste, foster alternative energy and save its residents money.

Energy Action Plans

I read through a number of these plans looking for ideas. My nonprofit, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, has a grant to assist several small cities write plans and catalog, or "benchmark," their buildings according to utility meter to chart energy usage.

After perusing about seven of them, I started to see real strength in the phrasing -- as if these documents weren't just meant to collect dust on a shelf. Somebody plans to use them, and use them well.

The plan for one Los Angeles-area beach community pulled no punches. "Huntington Beach led the last energy revolution in Southern California with oil production over the last century and is poised to lead
the next clean energy revolution in Southern California as we prepare for the impacts from peak oil production and climate change."

My sister lives in nearby Hermosa Beach. The communities are known for being progressive.

The plan spelled out past successes and quantified savings. It also spelled out how to garner additional energy savings, citing the Rosenfeld Effect. Based on CEC commissioner Art Rosenfeld's groundbreaking policies now more than three decades old, the effect refers to how efficiency basically pays for future energy uses.

What's interesting is these plans actually have a very likely shot at getting accomplished what they were intended to do. Piedmont, Calif. Mayor Abe Friedman writes, "I am certain that with the guidance of this plan both the City government and Piedmont residents can together make meaningful changes in our everyday lives and operations to reduce our carbon footprint."

He sounds like he really believes it.

I'm starting to feel somewhat optimistic. After the trials and tribulations of two years trying to Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant money spent, I'm a little gun shy around energy efficiency projects.

Getting results

But this makes sense. Communities planning out their strategies.

Berkeley's plan also calls a spade a spade. Here it refers to the benchmarking practice: "The emissions inventory is useful for another important reason: it helps to remind us that we are both part of the global warming problem and part of the solution."

And not the Final Solution. I've been reading Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon Israeli spy novels again.

Photo: Bloomberg.com

Coalition seeks to boost Calif. green jobs through recycled manufacturing

California Assembly Bill 32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 has within it a mandatory commercial recycling component that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 million metric tons.

To achieve that objective, an additional 2 million to 3 million tons will have to be recycled annually by 2020. A coalition supporting increased manufacturing in California using recycled material wants to divert that waste to in-state companies to increase jobs.

To do this, the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and others have been working to focus the power of AB32 to not only recycle but create opportunity. The Recycling Build Infrastructure Now Coalition seeks to tie the jobs component to the measure's rollout similar to the highly effective "We can do it" campaign of World War II.

The BIN Coalition's summit is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 9 at the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel, 110 W. Fremont St. in Stockton, Calif. The formal rulemaking process for the Mandatory Commercial Recycling Regulation will begin in early September 2011.

The BIN team seeks to include language in the regulation that identifies domestic demand for material to reduce greenhouse gases as well as a number of other measures.

Others in the effort include the California Association of Recycling Market Development Zones, the California Product Stewardship Council Board, the California Resource Recovery Association, the Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and the California Association of Local Economic Development.

Air so thick you can slice it

The Associated Press ran a photo recently of Tehran that showed a skyline clogged with brown, air so thick you expect Porky Pig to saw a hole in it and say, "Tha-tha-that's all folks."

I pulled it up on Huffington Post.

The scene is reminiscent of Beijing and many other heavily populated cities across the world on days without rain or wind to push the bad air out. It offers an indication of what awaits should we continue current energy practices. In fact, here in the San Joaquin Valley we have our own bad air days. Some worse than others.

Last month, Fresno Bee reporter Mark Grossi posted an item saying Fresno ranked No. 2 in the country for ozone violations. Not bad but certainly not good.

Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley don't get a lot wind. The Valley's a basin bordered by mountains. Bad air travels from the Bay Area and even China and vacations here.

Tehran's got similar physical issues: towering mountains that trap stagnant air, more than 12 million people and "seemingly round-the-clock traffic jams of more than 3 million cars and buses," according to the AP story accompanying the photo.

Iran's leaders don't like the problem and are reportedly trying to do something about it. Good luck.

Mexico City used to have the same problems but has done a decent job of clearing the haze, chalking up some of the cleanest air in the past 20 years. The birds no longer fall dead from the sky. I got that last bit from a story by McClatchy Newspapers' Tim Johnson.

The point here is that there is an alternative. Legislative changes work to a degree, but the average consumer has a huge potential role. Energy efficiency is a movement that's been around since my hero Art Rosenfeld, California Energy Commission commissioner, started moving the state in that direction decades ago. Efforts to use better lighting and upgrade electricity gobbling devices to more efficient versions can easily carve a third off energy bills.

Less spent used means less power generated. More efficient gasoline engines also save big. Who knows, electric cars may just catch on. Then again, Congress may start paying attention to the concept of buying local and encourage development of policies that encourage domestic natural gas production via fracking and we'll start converting gas burners to compressed natural gas.

There's also algae fuel and a long list of other interesting possibilities. But a little leadership goes a long way. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Change Champion Award for his work creating the state's Global Warming Solutions Act.

By itself, the Act, which also goes by the name AB 32, won't clear the air. But it's a start and is encouraging renewable energy projects. And groups like 350.org are encouraging projects and awareness, helping lift the veil on a problem we can all see but would rather not face.

The other day driving east toward my home in Clovis, I saw the Sierra Mountains covered in snow. Clear as a good day in Anchorage looking up at the Chugach Range. No haze.

It'd be nice to have more of those. I'll be residents of Tehran, Beijing and Los Angeles would enjoy the same.

Photo: AP

CA guv wins EPA award, but what's next for clean energy?

The Governator may be going the way of the "Expendables," but down the road he's likely to be remembered for his progressive clean energy policies.

From my perch on the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization porch, his efforts, highlighted by his move to create California's Global Warming Solutions Act, requiring the state to develop regulations that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, look pretty remarkable.

We call the governor's measure AB 32. While controversial, many in industry have accepted its consequences. Utilities are increasing their purchase of green-sourced power, and solar and wind farms are getting the green light with increasing rapidity.

Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger received a huge slap on the back from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency when the agency gave him its Climate Change Champion Award.

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, lauded Schwarzenegger, for his "extraordinary vision and leadership as an early, ardent and articulate champion in the defense of our planet against global climate change."

The governor's progressive vision is matched by many -- from the ranks of bureaucracy to homes and businesses on Main Street. The desire to pay less every month for electricity or breathe cleaner air is not really a partisan issue. Perspectives may be flavored by blue or red leanings, but the average family tends to maintain common ground on quality of life and what leaves the bank account.

Blumenfeld acknowledged that. "The environment does not know political boundaries. It was created in a presidency of the Republican Party. And we need to encourage that bipartisan support." (Forty years ago by President Richard M. Nixon, by the way. I still have my "Nixon Now More Than Ever" button.)

Blumenthal did say that comes with "huge political risk," but underlined the importance of forging political common ground to solve the increasingly complex and costly environmental issues associated with our current love affair with fossil fuels.

I'm as much of the problem as anyone. I enjoy a comfortable temperature in my office and at home and drive a car, but then I live in California which has a one-person, one-car requirement. I love the gasoline engine. There's nothing like the sound of my 1974 Superbeetle wasting some kid's tuner.

Schwarzenegger took up the challenge of encouraging clean energy when many leaders let the issue slip down their list of priorities. Arguably, it's a sure-fire winner with jobs, reduced reliance on smog-creating technologies and energy Independence as just some of the incentives.

But change is not easy. Corporations rely on energy delivery systems based on refined oil. It's cheap, it works and it's still available, despite resources everyone knows to be finite. And fracking for natural gas has unearthed massive potential domestic reserves. (An aside: I tend to believe natural gas to be a clean fuel, but then I'm from Alaska.)

Future leaders will have to take up the cause. Consumers also can do their parts by embracing the recent wave of energy efficiency products on store shelves and realizing that smart meters can be used for good, not evil.

In his speech accepting the EPA award, Schwarzenegger talked about blanketing the many warehouses in the state with solar panels, being annoyed with China about bragging about its wind-power efforts and California's clean-tech accomplishments.

On the subject of China, he won a round of applause when he said, "So now we broke ground on the biggest in the world and it's bigger, much bigger than theirs, so I'm very happy about that."

The governor said California has out-sized pull. "We are this little, tiny spot but the power of influence that we have is an equivalent of a whole continent," he said.

We should keep that in mind. Here at SJVCEO offices, we recently experienced an example of the increasing interest in energy efficiency. Co-workers Courtney Kalashian and Maureen Hoff were so successful with a program exchanging old incandescent Christmas lights for strings using light-emitting diodes, which use 70 percent less electricity, that people snapped them all up way faster than expected and keep calling for more.

How the movement to embrace energy efficiency and clean energy will unfold is anybody's guess. My compatriot and fellow ex-newsman Sanford Nax and I talk about this subject continually.

Our topics often concern the future of the industry at large and when it will reach mainstream. Some say it has the potential of an economic gold, or green, rush. Big opportunities. Big jobs.

Yeah, right. Where are they?

So while we ponder such topics, we'll think about people like the outgoing governor of this sunny state of California and wonder what's to come and who will head up the charge to wean this nation from the incredibly costly overseas crude.

Mid-life crisis? Clean Air Act turns 40

Lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni in the off-Broadway debut of the musical "Hair" in October 1967 set the stage for one of the most powerful pieces of environmental legislation in U.S. history.

Welcome sulphur dioxide,
Hello carbon monoxide
The air, the air is everywhere
Breathe deep, while you sleep, breathe deep

Less than four years later, President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and soon after that formed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement the landmark legislation.

On Sept. 14, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act's passage at a Washington, D.C. conference. She'll be joined by "leading contributors who have helped shape the act over the past 40 years." The list includes politicians, private sector types and activists.

The real test is the air itself. I live in California's Central San Joaquin Valley, a hotbed of agriculture known for its brown, smog-filled skies. Allergy doctors do well here, and bad-air days are as common as rain in the Pacific Northwest.

Foul air settles in the Valley, which has very little wind and zero rain in summer. Reportedly, noxious emissions from the Bay Area and possibly as far away as China make their way to settle in scenic Fresno and the foothills of the Sierra Mountains.

Thursday's Air Quality Index rating by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District showed a moderate 97 for Fresno County, and an "unhealthy for sensitive groups" 110 for Tulare County just to the south. Ratings below 50 are considered good.

Worldwide it's not much better. According to 350.org, our air has 390 parts per million of carbon dioxide and should have 350 ppm to be considered healthy. The organization has launched a campaign to reduce the amount through grassroots activities on Oct. 10.

Author and clean air activist Bill McKibben says even if we succeed on removing all the fossil fuel belching cars, factories and other contributors, we'll still see the globe warming for decades. He says our prospects are dour.

This comes despite positive moves in past years. Earthjustice.org argues that the amendments added to the Clean Air Act in 1990 gave the law the teeth it needed to go after polluters. "There is no better tool for cleaning up toxic air pollution," said Earthjustice attorney James Pew on the website.

Those amendments, by the way, were signed by President George H.W. Bush, who said at the time: "This bill means cleaner cars, cleaner power plants, cleaner factories and cleaner fuels; it means a cleaner America."

Eliminating the brown nasty air remains a huge challenge. While most of us prefer the smell of clean air (I recall the undeniable freshness after thunderstorms in Fairbanks, Alaska), we still want our cars, our houses at 76 degrees (or so) and the independence of urban and rural sprawl.

And everybody seems to have an opinion. A search for "clean air act importance" on Google turned up a post from the Nuclear Energy Institute that basically said: "Want to clean the air? Go nuclear." I paraphrase. However, the writer does have a point. Dealing with the political fallout and spent plutonium is another matter.

And some want status quo. There's the movement supporting Proposition 23 in California, which would roll back the state's Global Warming Solutions Act. Also known as AB 32, the act seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California to 1990 levels by 2020.

Needless to say, Prop. 23 wouldn't help clean the air. It's supported by Texas refiners Tesoro and Valero and just got a $1 million boost from Koch Industries, a company notorious for its anti-environmental stance. Rebecca Lefton called the trio the "toxic triplets" in a post on climateprogress.org.

The battle continues. Coal is in the sights of many environmental groups, and the industry is fighting back, trying to keep coal ash from being regulated as hazardous waste and keeping coal mines and coal-fired power plants operational. Of course, the argument there is that coal is domestic, in abundant supply and the industry offers massive employment in questionable times.

It's time for clean energy to step up. Many reports say the industry, such as it is, will generate millions of new jobs. Where are they?

Those interested in listening in on EPA's 40-year look-back event can see it webcast live at http://www.epa.gov/live/.

Photo: Rocky Mountains.

Renewables win 2, lose 1

Renewable energy in California took some punches to the gut and scored some victories some this week and last.

On the upside, the California Public Utilities Commission appears poised to launch an incentive program meant to boost renewable energy projects and San Luis Obispo County moved the 250 megawatt California Valley Solar Ranch a big step forward by issuing a draft environmental impact report.

On the downside, the California Legislature failed to pass a renewable energy bill and the industry still faces the potential passage of Prop. 23, which would roll back 2006 climate change laws.

The proposed CPUC decision issued this week would require California utilities to purchase power from solar and other renewables that produce from one megawatt to 20 megawatts. A megawatt is about the amount consumed by 1,000 homes.

The measure would establish what is known in the industry as a feed-in tariff, which essentially gives renewable energy generators about what it costs to produce power.

Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, hailed the CPUC decision. He said in a statement that the proposed measure would assist mid-sized solar projects, helping them secure support similar to the state's "robust policies for developing large, utility-scale solar power plants and for putting smaller systems on homes and businesses."

Browning said his organization looks forward to working with the CPUC to finalize details of the measure.

The "CPUC proposal is designed to unlock that missing piece, providing an additional opportunity for solar market and job growth and for quickly bringing massive new amounts of clean energy to the state,” he said.

The San Luis solar project is bound for 1,900 acres in the Carrizo Plains, an environmentally sensitive region known for endangered wildlife. Eric Wesoff of greentechmedia.com wrote that the environmental impact report, or EIR, involved 60 biologists and 30 biological surveys.

The EIR goes through a public comment period before heading back to county government for possible passage. Wesoff said trucks commissioned by developer San Jose-based SunPower could begin rolling by next summer.

The renewable energy bill ran out of time in the senate by the midnight deadline Tuesday. SB 722 would have turned an executive order signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger last year requiring that 33 percent of California's energy come from renewable sources by 2020 into law.

The failure disappointed supporters. Lauren Sommer of kqed.org quoted Laura Wisland, a clean energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, as saying, "We think not establishing a 33 percent renewable portfolio standard this year is a huge loss to California's environment and economy."

Clean Energy Alliance Forms In California

So, here we are in Fresno, the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. It's hot, with high power bills (mine was almost as much as my house payment), is rich with renewable energy resources and has chronically high unemployment.

I can't think of a better place for clean-energy technology and energy-efficiency programs. Which is why a new alliance of California businesses, labor, community and environmental leaders sounds promising.

It's called California Apollo Program, and its goal is to create a comprehensive strategy for creating clean-energy jobs in a state famous for innovation and technological advancement.

Hopefully, the alliance will include representatives from the San Joaquin Valley, which can benefit more than most from new jobs and programs that reduce power bills and create alternative forms of energy for farmers and manufacturers.

"The Apollo Alliance will work with our diverse coalition of business, labor, community and environmental leaders to ensure our state seizes the opportunity to invest in California businesses and create new jobs producing the clean technologies of the future," said Phil Angelides, chairman of the national Apollo Alliance, a broader group with similar goals.

The formation of the new group comes when California's landmark climate bill, AB32, is under assault. Proposed legislation, Proposition 23, would suspend AB 32 and goes before the voters in November.

The Apollo Alliance has an ambitious agenda. Here is just a bit of it:

  • Generate 33% of California's power from renewable resources by 2020;

  • Retrofit existing buildings and ensure new construction is green;

  • Support public/private R&D partnerships;

  • Help manufacturers retool factories and retrain employees to produce clean-energy products;

  • Promote "Buy California: and "Buy America" policies'

  • Recycle and reuse in California.

A partial list of endorsers include SunPower Corporation, Natural Resources Defense Council, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California and California Energy Efficiency Industry Council.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

EPA clamps down on new power plants & refineries

New refineries and power plants will have to address greenhouse gas emissions before receiving federal approval under a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency, agency officials said.

The move could be major. For one thing, greenhouse gas is a clean energy buzz word and everybody appears to have an opinion. For another, any move by the EPA regarding the Clean Air Act elevates the debate.

In California, Proposition 23 dominates discussion over greenhouse gas. The measure would suspend AB 32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act, requiring California to develop regulations that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

EPA's proposal complements a rule passed this spring which specifies that beginning in 2011, projects that increase greenhouse gas emissions substantially require an air permit.

Next up for EPA is making sure states modify their permitting laws.

For instance, an EPA statement says, "EPA will work closely and promptly with states to help them develop, submit, and approve necessary revisions to enable the affected states to issue air permits to GHG-emitting sources. Additionally, EPA will continue to provide guidance and act as a resource for the states as they make the various required permitting decisions for GHG emissions."

Expect fireworks.

Darren Goode of thehill.com reports that industry groups challenging EPA's rule include the American Forest and Paper Association, National 
Association of Manufacturers, the American Iron and Steel Institute 
and the Portland Cement Association.

Goode wrote, the "Sierra Club filed a legal challenge despite its support for the intent of the rule and the timeline for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. The group is concerned about the precedent it could 
set for other pollutants."

Likewise, Kassie Siegel, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute director, said the EPA's actions fall short.

“The EPA should be moving boldly, quickly, and confidently to implement the Clean Air Act’s successful pollution-reduction programs for greenhouse gases. ... While everyone agrees that greenhouse reductions for the largest polluters must be prioritized, the EPA can and should move far more quickly to reduce pollution from the other very important sources."

Photo: Ravenswood Power Plant in New York City by ericortner.

More On Jerry Brown's Plan For Green Economy

Here are the highlights of would-be governor Jerry Brown's new jobs plan, released Sunday on his Web site.

He said investments in clean energy produce two to three times as many jobs as gas, oil or coal, and predicts continued growth in the industry.

He wants 20,000 new megawatts of renewable electricity by 2020, and to accelerate development of energy storage capacity.
Here are specifics:
  • 12,000 megawatts of localized energy close to where energy is consumed that can be built without new transmission lines and without environmental impact;

  • Solar systems of up to 2 megawatts on roofs of warehouses, parking garages, schools and commercial buildings;

  • Solar projects up to 20 megawatts on public and private property;

  • Implementation of a system of renewable power payments for generation projects up to 20 megawatts in size.

  • Construct 8,000 megawatts of large-scale renewables and required transmission lines - the catalyst being a requirement that 33% of the state's electricity be derived from renewable sources. This would create a market and drive investment.

  • One integrated environmental review by federal and state agencies, and expedited permitting.

  • Encourage development of energy storage projects, creating jobs and more reliable energy;

  • New efficiency standards for new buildings and programs for upgrades and retrofits to existing structures. Loans could be repaid through savings on property tax or utility bills;

  • Stronger efficiency requirements for appliances;

  • Increase power from cogeneration plants from 9,249 megawatts now to almost 16,000 megawatts over 20 years;

  • Appoint a renewable-energy czar to ensure goals and deadlines are met.

Brown also has touted the creation of electric vehicle charging stations along interstates and, as attorney general, sued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over their disruption of PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs.

Brown's plan came a month after competitor Meg Whitman, who says she will suspend California's groundbreaking AB 32 greenhouse gas-cutting program, released her plan for creating jobs.

Both candidates have to deal with a gaping $19 billion budget deficit. Whitman's program revolves around tax cuts to spur investment, streamlining and reforming regulations and recruiting jobs. The highlights:

  • Eliminating business start-up fee and factory equipment tax;

  • Increasing research and development incentives;

  • Eliminating state tax on capital gains;

  • Tax incentive for water technology;

  • Establish academic Enterprise zones around universities;

  • Incentives for creating green jobs;

  • Head an economic development sales force;

  • Support construction of more water storage;

  • Home buyer's tax credit.'

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.

Clean energy policy could generate huge economic dividends, study says

The federal government could generate as many as 2.5 million jobs and $134 billion in economic activity in the next decade if it were to adopt clean energy policies and establish limits on greenhouse gases, a new report said today.

The report, aptly titled "Energy Policy Report: Impacts of Comprehensive Climate and Energy Policy Options on the U.S. Economy," based its conclusions on climate policies developed by 16 states. The report was created by the Center for Climate Strategies and published with Johns Hopkins University. It calls for "adoption of 23 specific policy approaches that have the potential to reduce pollution, are cost-effective, and improve energy, health, environment, and economic development."

"The economic analysis of these plans ... indicates that these stakeholder-recommended policies can, if designed properly, actually spur the economy, create jobs and reduce energy prices while significantly reducing emissions," the report says.

California, which has developed its own greenhouse gas reduction policy, the Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, was not included in the list. However, its policies already have had effects, prompting utilities to snap up renewable power contracts to meet benchmarks established by the law, subsequently spurring growth in wind and solar installations.

"Several states have pioneered creation of comprehensive state climate action plans in recent years," said Tom Peterson, president and CEO of the Center for Climate Strategies, in a statement. "Our analysis provides the first clear indication of what would happen to the economy if such programs were adopted at the federal level."

The policies specified by Center for Climate Strategies include adopting crop production techniques to enhance greenhouse gas savings, increasing methane production from livestock waste, maintaining and replanting forests, enhancing recycling, capturing methane from landfills, adding nuclear power, capturing carbon, improving coal plant emissions, upgrading building codes, adding energy efficiency retrofits to buildings, creating biofuel standards and others. Policies would mean targeted funding, tax and price incentives, reform of codes and standards, technical assistance, information and education, reporting and disclosure and voluntary and negotiated agreements.

"These results may sound surprising to some, but detailed analysis shows opportunities for well-chosen policies to expand the economy," said Adam Rose of University of Southern California, a principal author of the study.

The report won the endorsement of Christine Todd Whitman, former EPA chief and New Jersey governor, who said, the "findings substantiate that advanced climate actions are essential to establishing a stable and strong economy, using clean energy sources, including renewables and nuclear power, as the primary drivers, long into the future." Whitman is co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a proponent of nuclear energy.

Photo: One of Visalia's new buses that runs on compressed natural gas. Incentives would include upgrading fleets to reduce pollutants.

Possible Pilot Program For Embattled PACE?

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A New York legislator is proposing that 300,000 homeowners participate in a 30-month demonstration project to determine the effectiveness of embattled Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency may decide Wednesday whether to adopt the idea, according to grist, an online alternative energy news source, which quoted Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y).

"Right now you've got the regulatory community advancing a theory about PACE bonds," he told grist. "You have PACE advocates advancing their theory. Let's test out which theory is valid. At the end of the 30-month period we'll have hard data on which to base decisions."

PACE programs, which allow property owners to pay for energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes through property-tax assessments, have drawn fire from FHFA and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The three agencies say the program creates risk because PACE loans have priority over mortgage debt if the property owner defaults. Their reluctance to support the program has basically shut it down.

As a result, several counties in California, including Fresno and Kern, that planned programs are in limbo. State officials sued Fannie and Freddie and a House bill that would enable the programs to continue has been introduced.

Israel told grist that he would rather settle the dispute without going to court. His priority, he told grist, is to reinstate PACE programs in regions where they were suspended. Whether Fresno and Kern counties would be included is uncertain.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the
central San Joaquin Valley.

PG&E opposes measure to curtail climate law

The effort to suspend California's greenhouse gas emissions law has drawn perhaps its toughest foe now that PG&E has aligned itself with the opposition.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. joined companies like SunPower Corp., Recurve and Oak Creek Energy against Proposition 23, which will appear on November ballots and, if passed would effectively end the state's Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32.

AB 32 requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

"Studies show that unchecked climate change could cost California's economy alone tens of billions of dollars a year in losses to agriculture, tourism and other sectors," said Peter Darbee, Chairman and CEO of PG&E, in a statement. "Thoughtful and balanced implementation of AB 32 is one of the most important opportunities we have to avoid this costly outcome while spurring new clean-tech investment, innovation and job creation in California."

PG&E says it's "working closely with policymakers on creative ways to ensure that the law's vital environmental objectives are achieved at the lowest possible cost to customers and the California economy."

The effort won praise from groups that we're beating up the utility in recent weeks for its support of Prop. 16, which would have made it more difficult for local governments to start their own utilities.

Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs says on its site that "AB 32 has put California in a unique position to lead the clean energy and technology market, both in the United States and abroad." Steven Maviglio, spokesman, said in a statement that "PG&E, one of our state's largest employers, knows that Proposition 23 will kill jobs, drive up energy costs for families and businesses, and deal a blow to California's leadership in developing clean energy."

Expect a tough battle in coming months. The economy is in bad shape and that's the thrust of Prop. 23 supporters' message.

Anita Mangels, spokeswoman for the California Jobs Initiative committee that's backing Prop. 23, told Josh Richman of MercuryNews.com that Prop. 23 "will not weaken, repeal or roll back" AB 32 but "temporarily adjust the timetable for implementing" the costly measure until the state's economy improves.

"Prop. 23 would protect California families and businesses from billions of dollars in higher energy costs that would result from implementation of AB 32. It's no surprise that PG&E would oppose Prop. 23, since defeating the initiative would allow PG&E to increase its rates and its profits at the expense of California's already struggling families and businesses."

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.