Grange Network to host first free webinar on efficient water delivery this Thursday

The SJVCEO likes to make friends wherever we can, so when we met Jim Anshutz preparing for our Clean Energy Jobs workshop last December we knew we'd be fast friends!

Sure enough, the work Jim and his partner, Kurt Maloney are doing with AGH20 is right up our water/energy nexus alley.  In addition to collaborating on our C6 training program they have also started a web based community for irrigation industry called the Grange Network.  The new site serves the Agricultural Irrigation Industry's need to share knowledge and effectively use water.

On Thursday, February 28th the Grange Network will hoe the first in a series of free webinars hosted by top industry thinkers.  Click here to register. 

Topic: Making Drip Pay: Increasing Income, Reducing Costs and Improving Flexibility
Speaker: Inge Bisconer, Technical Marketing and Sales Manager, Toro
Date: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. PST, 60 minutes
Cost: FREE!
Session Description: Drip irrigation for agriculture is gaining in popularity because of its many benefits.  This webinar provides an overview of how producers are increasing income, reducing costs, improving flexibility and achieving sustainability by using drip irrigation technology on row, field and permanent crops.

Case studies will be reviewed, along with a unique software tool called the Toro Drip/Mirco Payback Wizard. Finally, a typical drip irrigation system layout and design will be reviewed using Toro's AquaFlow 3.2 Drip Irrigation Design Software.

About Inge Bisconer: Inge Bisconer is the Technical Marketing and Saels Manger for Toro Mirco-Irrigation in El Cajon, CA.  She has worked in production agriculture, co-founded an irrigation consulting firm, and has held various technical, sales, marketing and management positions in the irrigation and water treatment industries over the past 30 years.

Inge holds a BS in agriculture from UC Davis, an MBA in technology management, and most recently authored the Toro Mirco-Irrigation Owner's Manual, a comprehensive guide for both new and existing row, field and permanent crop growers.

Inge currently serves as President of the California Irrigation Institute, is an Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) and Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA), and it past-chair of the IA's Drip/Mirco Common Interest Group and its Market Development subcommittee.

The "Grange Network  is a collaborative effort between AGH2O and vftnetworks--A Vignettes for Training Inc. Company.

photo credit: CUESA via photopin cc

JOB OPENING: Energy Industry Fundamentals Adjunct Instructor

The first Clean Energy job under our C6 program?  The instructor for the Energy Industry Fundamentals course!  

West Hills College, as part of a Department of Labor, Trade Adjustment AssistanceCommunity College and Career Training Grant Program known as “C6” will offer an introduction to the energy industry course on the Coalinga Campus.  As a partner, the Clean Energy Organization is assisting West Hills Coalinga in recruiting an instructor for the six week course. *IT IS NOT OKAY TO CONTACT THE CAMPUS REGARDING THIS POSITION*

Desired Qualifications:
  • Industry experience with energy—electrical and gas power, California utilities, generation or other applicable energy subset.
  • AA degree with six years industry experience
  • BA with some industry experience
  • MA with minimal industry experience
  • Engaging personality!
  • Qualified OSHA Train the Trainer

 Position Specifics:
  • Dates: February 19-March 15, 2013
  • 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Monday through Friday
  • $59-61 per hour (DOE)
  • Paid for classroom hours only
  • Hired as a "part time" instructor by West Hills College Coalinga (it is not okay to contact the campus)
  • No benefits
Please email ckalashian@pesc.com with interest and resume, or respond to our Craiglist posting at: http://fresno.craigslist.org/edu/3564700814.html

Clean Energy Jobs Workshop: A Review

On December 14, 2012 the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization (SJVCEO) hosted the “Clean Energy in the Valley: Where Are the Jobs?” workshop as part of the efforts for the Central California Community Colleges Committed to Change (C6). The SJVCEO is working with employers and West Hills College Coalinga to develop clean energy curriculum and how the Valley’s workforce is trained and prepared for employment. SJVCEO staff crafted this one-day workshop to serve as a true “work” shop in which attendees and organizers would collaborate to geographically determine where the jobs are now, where projects are planned, and what the actual employment opportunities are in the eight county region of the San Joaquin Valley. Data gathered would be used to jump start the project of populating an interactive geographic information system (GIS) based map that represents what, where and when clean energy jobs are available in the Valley, what training and certifications are needed at each site, and where training is available. In addition to the brainstorming breakout session, attendees were treated to three topical presentations. Guest speakers included Heather Croom and Dave Pastizzo of VESTRA to demonstrate the GIS map; Jim Anshutz of AG/H20 and the WET Center to discuss opportunities in the water/energy nexus; and Ryan Drobeck of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology to shed light on the market and policies that impact clean energy jobs. 

The workshop was well attended by those in both industry and education. So how long was the actual list of jobs that was created? Unfortunately, the list is nonexistent. We found having a room full of employers was beneficial in addressing the general issues, however, there was a concern about sharing information in front of potential competitors.  And heck, we cant really blame them.  

SJVCEO staff quickly realized that the agenda would need an ASAP course correction!  

Instead of trying to pry project information out of reluctant participants staff focused on what can make a difference: collaboration. We needed to take a large step back and look at the bigger picture. 

Deanna Fernandez, SJVCEO’s project coordinator, diligently listened and took note as to where the workshop attendees felt she should go to start mapping out the jobs. The consensus was that many of the barriers to finding these opportunities often lie in the public policy infrastructure. It is believed that approximately 40% of the permitted projects actually come to fruition, but identifying which ones is like finding a needle in the haystack. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and a unified solution found. The US Department of Energy has funded the SunShot Solar Initiative to combat policy barrier issues in the solar field, but what about other issues like locating potential employment opportunities in an effort to prepare a qualified workforce? Can a clearinghouse be developed to inform decision makers of potential economic opportunities? Deanna intends to begin research on the job market by contacting database management firms as well as each of the eight county offices of the San Joaquin Valley to obtain input and guidance. Other resources that will be utilized are the Great Valley Center in Modesto and the various workforce investment boards. This is, of course, in addition to targeted industry leaders in the clean and renewable energy fields.

The SJVCEO prides itself on taking a holistic approach when it comes to clean energy in the Valley. Our air quality is unhealthy. Our population is desperate for work. Our workforce is under-trained  It seems obvious that the C6 project is where the focus needs to be if the San Joaquin Valley intends to stay competitive and economically stable.

The SJVCEO’s resident wellness expert and certified holistic health coach, Maureen Hoff, puts her personal passion for health at the heart of the issue: “Something has to be done. Maybe you are already a top-paid executive, swing a bit more to the right, or just don’t believe in global warming so the idea of clean energy jobs seems silly. One thing we can all agree on is the fact that our air quality, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley, is nothing short of horrendous and our health is suffering. How can we expect to live full and satisfying lives when the air we breathe is full of toxins and particulate matter that poisons our lungs and diminishes the healthy possibilities of outside activities? Our environment is a huge part of our overall health and wellness. If we don’t begin working collectively for a solution, ensuring the duplication of efforts is eliminated, we will continue to suffer.” Suffer we will. From poor air quality, high surface ozone, non-attainment fines and the economic suppression the Valley has suffered from over the past twenty-five plus years, the outlook is grim. With projected growth rates over the next 20 years significantly higher in the San Joaquin Valley than for other parts of California or the United States (Tadlock Cowan, 2005), these problems are not going away anytime soon.

Barriers aside, the SJVCEO is committed to a positive attitude and restructuring the workforce in the Valley through the C6 efforts. Educators, employers, job-seekers, and the entire community will soon reap the rewards of the collaborative efforts. As the heart of the state, the San Joaquin Valley will serve as the life force that pushes California to its goals and beyond.

For more information related to the SJVCEO or C6 please contact SJVCEO Director, Courtney Kalashian, at ckalashian@pesc.com or 877-748-0841. You can also visit the following websites: http://sjvcleanenergy.org/ and http://c6.whccd.edu/

Photo credit: Courtney Kalashian

Clean Energy Jobs Workshop December 14th

Keynote Speaker: Ryan Drobek, Center for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Technologies,

Presenters Include:
Jim Anshutz, P.E., AgH20, WET Center Member
VESTRA, a leader in GIS/IT, Environmental Solutions, Engineering, and Surveying

To RSVP click here or call (877)748-0841

Clean Energy in the San Joaquin Valley: where are the jobs?

This event has been postponed to December 14th. Same time, same place.  For more information contact Courtney Kalashian @ (877) 748-0841 or ckalashian@pesc.com

I may have mentioned in passing our project working with community colleges in the San Joaquin Valley--heck, even Huffington Post is talking about it--but I've not taken the time to really explain what we're doing and why we're doing it. Well, my apologies and please, allow me to tell you a bit about this thing we like to call "C6".

In May 2012 the SJVCEO began a partnership with the Central California Community Colleges Committed to Change (C6) consortium under a Department of Labor grant to redesign how community college students are trained to enter the clean energy workforce.  Our role is to convene educators with industry leaders to jointly design skills training based on real life needs. 

Our purpose is to serve as a convener of employers, industry experts and educators to look at Alternative/Clean Energy (ACE) education in a holistic manner. For the past six months we have been meeting with employers and asking what they want in their future employees.  We've meet with educators and asked what they're doing, and how they'd like to change it.  We have researched existing sources of curriculum, then taken it back to the employers and educators and asked how can we make this more applicable for students in Central California. 

But that wasn't enough. 

Maureen, Dee and I found ourselves asking, 'where are all these newly trained students going to go?' and we didn't have a concrete answer and with that a workshop was born! (PS--you're invited!)

Our one-day workshop will serve as a true “work” shop in which we will attempt to geographically determine where the jobs are now, where projects are planned, and what the actual employment opportunities are in our eight county region.  At the end of the day we want to have enough data to create an online, interactive GIS based map that represents what, where and when clean energy jobs are available in the San Joaquin Valley, what training and certifications are needed at each site, and where training is available. 

The ideal attendee for the event is a person familiar with the business plans of you organization or involved in planning and permitting for clean energy projects—where contracts will be, number of jobs, length of contract, training and certification needed.  We want to take a broad view  on clean energy: efficiency, solar, wind, water, biofuels, weatherization, green building, and more! Please mark your calendars and join us:

Thursday, November 15, 2012
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Small Business Development Center Regional Network in partnership with the US Small Business Administration
550 East Shaw Avenue, Suite 100
Fresno, CA  93710-7702

Please RSVP to ckalashian@pesc.com and please forward this to those you think would benefit from participating.

If you have questions or would like more information on this event please contact Courtney Kalashian, (877) 748-0841 or ckalashian@pesc.com.  

photo credit: SenatorMarkUdall via photopin cc

Want to make money? Enroll in Valley colleges' green training

"Out of work? Need money? Have I got a deal for you!"

That's how many of the pitches go. They arrive unbidden to cell phones and email addresses belonging to eager unemployed or underemployed people all over the country. Often the message is the best thing about the offer, which is usually some pyramid scheme or related dog of a deal.

There is something better. A whole lot better.

Clean and alternative energy may sound a little been there done that, but the sector is looking up. Way up. Projections show steady increases, and market indications point to substantial adoptions of policies in the private and public sectors that increase efficiencies, promote sustainability and bolster alternative energy projects.

Here's a sample of some entry-level wages:
  • Energy auditor - $42,000
  • HVAC installer - $41,600
  • Energy efficiency manager - $52,000
  • Retrofit specialist - $50,000
  • Construction project manager - $60,000
  • Building controls technician - $50,000

Employment isn't up to snuff yet, and companies focusing on energy efficiency, solar and other aspects of sustainability are just getting started here in the San Joaquin Valley. But soon companies will need trained workers who can immediately help them make money and expand their operations. This video by California Community Colleges Economic & Workforce Development gives an example of what  is out there.

The Central California Community Colleges Committed to Change, or C6, project has been established to meet the training needs of what is expected to be a robust sector in the San Joaquin Valley economy. It seeks to create accelerated educational training programs that produce qualified graduates for jobs in critical sectors that industry desperately wants to fill.

Members include Cerro Coso Community College, West Hills Community College District, Fresno City College, Madera Community College, Reedley College, Porterville Community College, Merced Community College, College of the Sequoias and Bakersfield Community College.

The colleges already have training programs in place that address much of the training needed. However, their intent is to make their programs better and increase job placement and retention of students.

Robert Pimentel, interim director of the C6 project, says the program has three components: agriculture, alternative energy and health care. He said the goal of the program is simple, create collaborative and common curriculum between member colleges and connect with industry so the programs propel graduates into the work force.

“We want to know where the jobs are,” he says. And “we want something meaningful for employers.”

C6 will attempt to align programs of participating colleges, mirror some of the curriculum with existing programs and compress training time lines. The goal is to cut the time it takes to get people through the programs while still providing them with accredited classes that can be used for further certifications and degrees.

Pimentel says while efforts have just begun to establish college-industry connections in alternative and clean energy, the C6 program has pulled off a successful effort with its health care component. “If it can be in health care, it can be done elsewhere,” he says.

Fellowship of the sun: Quest for solar power continues

Chronicling the progress of solar energy has at times been like trying to follow Legolas, Gimli and the rest of the Fellowship of the Ring as they journey across Middle Earth.

Here's a possible dispatch from soon after their initial departure: They've gone through the Misty Mountains and successfully beat the odds in the mines of Moria. But Gandalf dies battling a balrog.

Likewise, solar continues to push forward despite tremendous odds: U.S. manufacturers have been buffeted by international market forces but battle through. Solyndra is killed by a beast known far and wide as bankruptcy.

It's not easy. Yet, in both cases, the quest continues. For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, the quest will never be over. My 15-year-old son currently carries a copy of "Return of the King."

For solar, the news on the whole is positive. Clint Wilder, senior editor at market analyst Clean Edge, says in a recent post that "U.S. solar installations grew 109 percent, adding 1,855 megawatts." He says that's thanks to "falling photovoltaic prices, favorable policies in key states, and the aggressive business strategies of installers/financiers like Solar City, SunRun, and SunEdison."

The battle for solar

That's not saying there's not a Battle of Hornberg at Helm's Deep still out there. (Recall in the Peter Jackson film "The Two Towers" where the fellowship whips up on bloodthirsty orcs in what has got to be one of the best fight screens in all moviedom.)

Solar progress in California's San Joaquin Valley has mirrored that in the rest of the nation. Development may not be as fast, but projects are getting green-lighted. The California Energy Commission shows 4,242.5 megawatts worth of major solar energy generating projects approved in the past several years and another 1,500 megawatts under review.

In the meantime, smaller projects are going in all over the state and the rest of the country. Here in the Valley, it's no different. But some spots are more progressive than others.

Signs point to job growth

Hector Uriarte at Proteus Inc. in Visalia says solar projects have begun to hurdle the permitting process and break ground, especially in Tulare County. “We have an 80 percent placement rate,” he said of his organization’s solar panel installation training program.
That placement rate represents a 20 point increase from about a year earlier at his organization.

Uriarte says the solar industry is very close to being a significant driver in the job market. “Once it breaks open, the need (for workers) will be tremendous,” he said.

Damon Silva of Bakersfield-based A-C Electric Co. said the utilities will play a big role in how fast solar projects materialize and begin to become a major driver in the San Joaquin Valley economy. “A lot of this has to do with the utilities themselves,” he said. “There are quite a few of our projects ready to go.”

Utilities must approve an energy project's link to the grid. That power has to meld seamlessly with existing sources and not overtax overhead, or underground, cables.

Educators seek to meet the need

The expansion in the industry means a need for jobs. The San Joaquin Valley's colleges have formed a group dubbed the Central California Community Colleges Committed to Change, or C6, to meet that demand. The program seeks to create accelerated educational training programs that produce qualified graduates for jobs in critical sectors that industry desperately wants to fill.

One of the targeted sectors is alternative and clean energy. The group is looking to form training and educational programs that build upon common curriculum that potential employers can depend upon. Discussion by the group at a recent meeting about clean energy focused on producing graduates fluent in the fundamentals and expanding from a solid base curriculum.

There is great potential. For instance the market for energy efficiency, which dovetails with solar, is huge. Steve Earl, president and CEO of Sequoia Energy Services, says he’s come across reports that indicate meeting California’s improved building standards for energy efficiency in new and retrofit structures would cost $90 billion. However, the projected return is $400 billion in savings.

Failure is not an option

The need to clean up our air is tremendous. In other words, the fellowship of the sun must not fail. My Precious, best known as Gollum's ring, for purposes of comparison, represents in this case fossil fuels. Spellbinding and useful but ultimately deadly.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that six monitoring stations up in the Arctic reveal what clean energy advocate 350.org has been saying all along, that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air are increasing. Sampling at those sites showed concentrations exceeding 400 parts per million in spring for several years.

"The northern sites in our monitoring network tell us what is coming soon to the globe as a whole," Pieter Tans, an atmospheric scientist with NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, tells procon.org. "We will likely see global average CO2 concentrations reach 400 ppm about 2016."

Gimli & Legolas

This solar fellowship has a long way to go before it reaches the climax seen in "The Return of the King." But consider this: The industry has quite a few proponents who are true believers.

These, who I liken to Gimli the dwarf and Legolas the elf, boast immeasurable talent. Consider, for instance in the movie version of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" when the two start counting off their kills at Helm's Deep, courtesy imdb.com.

Gimli: Legolas! Two already!
Legolas: I'm on seventeen!
Gimli: Huh? I'll have no pointy-ear outscoring me! [kills another one]
Legolas: [shoots two more arrows] Nineteen!

Soon others of the fellowship will begin listing not their kills but their successes. Jobs will follow.