EECBG

Farewell Mr. Nemeth


Mike Nemeth and Sonic, blogging.

At SJVCEO we’re hiring.  Now, I’d love to say we are growing at such a rate that we have to staff up to meet the need.  The truth is our Mike is leaving us.  Mike Nemeth, resident blog master and EECBG project manager is moving on to the San Joaquin Valley Air PollutionControl District

Mike’s passion for energy and news provided the perfect combination to build the SJVCEO social media platform which has become a go-to resource for clean energy interests in the Valley.  While with the SJVCEO Mike oversaw the Clean Energy Partnership which provided technical experience to local governments resulting in millions of dollars in project retrofits and a savings of nearly 8 million kWh.  Mike’s last day with SJVCEO will be Monday, July 30th

From September 2009 to the present, Mike worked as Project Manager on the Clean Energy Partnership, serving as the liaison between the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, two Investor Owned Utilities, and the 36 local governments that make up the Partnership.  Mike also worked with the cities of Ceres and Delano on their Department of Energy direct-fund EEBCG projects.

In addition to his EECBG work Mike jumped headfirst into the world of green workforce development, leading our collaboration with West Hills Community College on the Valley Legacy Grant.  In this role, he narrowed the communication gap between educators and employers, contributing to an improvement between workforce development training and employers needs in the Valley’s “green” industry.  Mike’s efforts on the project helped to establish a beneficial and enduring working relationship with WHCC allowing the two entities to work together to improve the training for future workers and build capacity of locally-grown employees. Fortunately for our office, Mike chronicled his work on the WIA SJVCEO site, www.wiasjvceo.com, which provides useful resources for students, teachers and job seekers. The online repository provides lesson plans, studies, white papers as well as links to career sites and green employers—it even is home to a clean energy video vault.  Should you ever want to experience the view from atop a 25-story wind turbine without climbing one, the video vault can make it happen! Because of Mike the SJVCEO has received national praise for the service:

"It looks to me like you have done an invaluable service for the clean energy education community (really).  I was particularly interested in your work because it is so fresh, making it particularly valuable as I am sure you appreciate how dynamic the web environment is on this subject."                                                                    
--James Sulzen, PhD., Wesleyan University

I know I speak for our whole SJVCEO team in saying Mike’s departure will leave a large hole that will never be completely filled.  We wish him the best of luck in his new position as an Air Quality Specialist, and take comfort in knowing he will be less than a mile away!  

Thank you, Mike for your contribution to the organization, driving the fish truck full of LED Christmas lights, obscure references to things like Troll Hunter and the education you've provided us on all things Alaska.  You will be missed.  

Gustine goes green with energy efficiency

The City of Gustine can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Or, in this case, in the street.

A total of 53 brand new light emitting diode, or LED, street lights have been installed, casting a brighter glow on City streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 23,962 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $3,047 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Gustine joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

The City worked with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which installed the lights through its LED street light retrofit program.

Oakdale goes green with new tech and lighting

The City of Oakdale will be saving thousands of dollars each year through new energy efficient street lights and by adding new technology to its water wells.

A total of 184 brand new street lights with induction-style bulbs have been installed, casting a brighter glow on city streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

The City also has installed variable frequency drive, or VFD, units at three of its water wells, enabling significant savings by controlling energy to the pumps and thus regulating their speed and consumption of power. A VFD allows for smoother operation, acceleration control and different operating speeds for various operations.

“This project will help us, as a City, lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower our electricity bills, and turn back on some of the street lights that have been dark for years now,” said Anthony Smith, Oakdale Administrative Analyst. “In addition, the new variable frequency drives will allow us to lower energy consumption and better respond to changes in demand in the water system.”

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 204,159 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $25,000 a year and a greenhouse gas reduction about the same as taking 29 cars off the road.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

The money that makes the majority of the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Oakdale joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

San Joaquin finds savings in energy efficiency

The City of San Joaquin has brightened up its buildings and streets while saving money through a reduction in energy consumption.

A total of 35 brand new light emitting diode (LED) street lights have been installed, casting a brighter glow than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced.

Other related projects include programmable thermostats and occupancy sensors; together with the new street lights, the City can expect to reduce their energy consumption by 14,910 kilowatt hours producing an estimated savings of $1,790 per year.

Mayor Amarpreet Dhaliwal says this project is a big deal for the City as it isn’t costing the City a dime and it is leading the way in efforts to reduce energy consumption which is keeping with the goals of the City’s Local Government Partnership, a joint project with PG&E, whose purpose is to educate residents and businesses on energy conservation in order to generate reductions in energy consumption.

The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

San Joaquin joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

Firebaugh finds green beyond its verdant fields

The City of Firebaugh is now home to a total of 81 brand new light emitting diode, or LED, street lights, and they’re casting a brighter glow on City streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced.

The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 26,516 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $3,372 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

The project is one of several the City is pursuing to improve its future. The west-side Fresno County community of 7,000 hasn't let size get in its way of its ambitions, attracting solar and biofuel interests and pursuing sustainability.

Firebaugh's long-term strategy is to lower its greenhouse gas footprint and improve its quality of life. The City is working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through its Sustainable Communities Initiative. The goal of the program is to provide equitable development, planning and development approaches for achieving shared prosperity.

The City also launched an effort to better connect with the free-flowing San Joaquin River. The community began as a ferry crossing when most traffic into the Valley traveled via a much more robust waterway.

For the street light project, Firebaugh joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

The City worked with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which installed the lights through its LED street light retrofit program.

Riverbank develops energy efficiency, can jobs be far behind?


The City of Riverbank has delivered bright economical lights to one of the city’s largest buildings and biggest potential job creators.

A total of 138 brand new light emitting diode, or LED, lights have been installed in the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, casting a brighter glow on the building’s cavernous interior than the old metal halide fixtures they replaced. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City and business tenants much needed cash on their utility bills.

“Thanks to this innovative financing opportunity, the City was able to provide real, bottom line, measurable savings to conscientious businesses at the Army Plant through the installation of energy efficient lighting that reduces their utility bills,” said Jill Anderson, Riverbank City Manager.

What this is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 107,890 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $12,947 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

The City is using the 700,000-square-foot former munitions production buildings for economic development and as a kind of business incubator, attracting tenants that need inexpensive space to develop businesses with serious job-creating potential.

Riverbank joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

Dos Palos saves money with energy efficiency

The City of Dos Palos is greeting the spring a little greener than usual.

A total of 11 brand new light emitting diode, or LED, street lights have been installed, casting a brighter glow on city streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced. City buildings also are scheduled to receive a lighting face-lift. The new lights are significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

Energy efficiency measures continued with replacement of air conditioning units, putting in place modern systems that use much less electricity.

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 25,275 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $3,030 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Dos Palos joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

The City worked with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which installed the lights through its LED street light retrofit program.

Photo: Joshua Orizaga

Chowchilla installs new ‘green’ street lights

The City of Chowchilla has shined a new light on its streets.

A total of 159 brand new light emitting diode, or LED, street lights have been installed, casting a brighter glow on City streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

“The City is happy that we’re saving money by being more efficient and green,” says City Administrator Mark Lewis. “This grant offered us the opportunity to provide better lighting for our residents and save money at the same time, all at no cost to the City.”

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 108,258 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $8,171 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Chowchilla joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

The City worked with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which installed the lights through its LED street light retrofit program.

Kings County goes green to cut costs

Kings County has launched several projects that will save energy and money.

County crews have installed more than 2,800 lights and 300 ballasts, casting a brighter glow on office workers. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the County much needed cash on its utility bills.

Another projects included installing hundreds of occupancy sensors that automatically shut off lights in rooms when there is no activity. The County also has hired a contractor to replace 21 existing HVAC units on County-owned buildings with modern and efficient units.

“I wasn’t sure we could utilize just the grant monies to complete the lighting and HVAC upgrades, but we decided to try to do as much as time and grant monies would allow,” said Gerry Showers, Kings County Building Maintenance Superintendent. “I have exceptional staff members in my maintenance department, and they once again proved it by completing the lighting installation of 2800+ tubes and 300 ballasts in house.

“We also went out for competitive bids on replacing 21 HVAC units and the installation of approximately 300 light sensors. We have utilized all the grant monies and did not have to match any funds, and the projects finished on time and under budget. I want to thank the grant administrator and staff for their work with us on the EECBG and the opportunity for us to save our tax payers money by us utilizing the grant monies.”

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to County coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the County about 235,747 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $28,290 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the County a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Kings County joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

Parlier brings energy efficiency to the streets

The City of Parlier has given its residents brighter streets and intersections.

A total of 158 brand new street lights have been installed, casting a brighter glow on City streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

“These days the City needs all the help it can get to meet its budget requirements,” says Jim Doughty, Parlier, Grants Programs and Projects Director: “We have tightened our belt, and adding changes like these helps. The other good thing about this is we are conserving more than half the energy we were using before, and that is a good feeling.”

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 86,268 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $10,350 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money that makes the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Parlier joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

Grant project lights up Kingsburg




The City of Kingsburg can be viewed in a new light.

A total of 216 new light emitting diode, or LED, street lights have been installed, casting a brighter glow on City streets than the old high-pressure sodium bulbs they replaced. The new lights are also significantly more energy efficient, saving the City much needed cash on its utility bills.

City Manager Don Pauley said this is the first part of a three-phase project to replace 364 of the 436 city-owned streetlights with LED lamps as funding becomes available. "The City Council has designated this a priority project because it saves money by using energy-efficient LED lamps that comply with mandates... to reduce green house gas emissions, and the sense of safety it provides residents," Pauley said.

This means significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy-efficiency retrofits, when complete, will save the City about 68,000 kilowatt hours and roughly $8,400 in energy costs per year. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is roughly equivalent to removing 9.2 vehicles from the roadway.

Those are big deals these days.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money to do the project comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and an on-bill financing program by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The conservation block grant program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

The City worked directly with PG&E to install lights through the utility’s LED Streetlight Replacement program. Kingsburg joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments."

For more information, contact Don Pauley atdfpauley@cityofkingsburg-ca.gov or 559-897-5821.

Photo of Kingsburg Historical Park courtesy of the City of Kingsburg.

Exeter adds efficiencies to city buildings and schools

The City of Exeter will be saving money while it keeps cool this summer.

The City has installed brand-spanking new energy efficient air conditioning units with energy saving programmable thermostats, replacing aging existing units in its buildings. The City also will install new lights that are also significantly more energy efficient.

“The air conditioning upgrades at Exeter City Hall and the Exeter Police Department have been a tremendous enhancement to each of these facilities, both in terms of energy efficiency as well as operational efficiency,” said Randy Groom, City Administrator.

“City Hall was constructed in the early 1930s, when energy conservation was rarely considered. Over the years the building has been modernized, but heating and air conditioning systems have been hard-pressed to serve efficiently while fitting in to the originally designed spaces.”

Groom said already staff has seen dramatic improvements in the performance of the systems and in the comfort of all who use City buildings. “We are looking forward to additional savings and efficiencies with lighting system upgrades scheduled throughout our police facility,” he said.

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the City about 30,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $3,600 a year.

The City also is responsible for about another 26,000 kWh of savings, or about $3,120 a year. Exeter allocated about half the federal grant it’s using on this project to Exeter Public Schools, enabling the district to upgrade AC units on Exeter High School, Lincoln Elementary and Wilson Middle School.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Exeter joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

Mural in dowtown Exeter by Colleen Mitchell-Veyna.

Madera County scores big energy savings with efficiency lighting project

After most of Madera County’s staff quit for the day, crews of electricians went to work the past couple of weeks upgrading the existing lighting in many county buildings.

However, the measures don’t look like much until the casual observer knows what to look for.

Thousands of old inch-diameter fluorescents have been replaced with skinner bulbs – called T8s in light lingo. These new bulbs are 5/8-inch in diameter and use significantly less power while providing the same amount of light. In some cases, new-fangled fixtures with light emitting diodes, or LEDs, have replaced existing lighting.

What this means to the average taxpayer is significant savings to County coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits when complete will save the county about 535,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year. This roughly equates to a savings of about $64,000 a year.

And that’s a big deal in these troubled economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the County a dime. The money making the project possible comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program is administered through the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission.

Madera County joined with 35 other cities and counties in the region to form the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is led by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District with the assistance of the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. The Partnership administers the more than $4 million in grants and provides technical assistance to local governments.

The County is in the process of retrofitting florescent lights in its Main Jail, Main Library, Juvenile Services Administration Building, Oakhurst Library, Oakhurst Wastewater Treatment Facility and Government Center Parking Structure. The total conversion will replace 4,648 light tubes with new low-wattage/high-output florescent fixtures in the effort to reduce energy use and cost.

Beginning this week, the Government Center Parking Garage will receive new LED light fixtures to replace the center access lane florescent lights, area flood lights and light poles.

In addition, in cooperation with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the County is installing new LED street lights at its Juvenile Hall Facility parking lots and 82 street lights in the unincorporated communities of Parkswood and Parksdale.

The County maintains the importance of as little disruption to daily business operations as possible. To minimize the inconvenience to the public and staff that would surely result from closure or limited access to public access facilities, the County opted to do the installations in the evenings.

Alaska's largest city buys big into LED street lights

Anchorage winters are long.

While not as oppressive as those of Point Barrow on the Arctic Ocean, the long nights require decent man-made lighting to illuminate the often snow-packed and ice-frosted roads. And that makes street lights important.

The project is similar to one by the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership, which is working with 19 cities and one county and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to install energy saving LED street lights from Wasco to Selma and San Joaquin to Madera County and Gustine.

The effort by the Municipality of Anchorage, however, is massive with more than 16,000 street lights. The partnership's program is comparatively small with 2,136 lights.

The Anchorage Assembly approved phase one, and 4,000 LED fixtures have been installed, city officials say.

"At an initial investment of $2.2 million and an annual savings of $360,000, these fixtures will pay for themselves in less than seven years," they say.

Here's Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, discussing the projet at a a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in June 2010.



Begich, a former Anchorage mayor and long-time staffer, says he made sure to involve the community in the decision to swap the lights. He says the directive was to save money, but "let's make sure the end user appreciates the light." He also encourages other cities to follow with their own projects.

The Valley project, paid for with Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant funds, is nearly complete. The lighting saves cash-strapped Valley communities money and offers gives a whole new perspective on street lighting.

Expect to see more street lights with the distinctive bright LED light. PG&E is complementing the partnership's program with a separate on-bill financing opportunity, and many cities are taking the utility up on the work.

The end result is a smaller energy bill and better solvency in a tough economic time.

Alaska's largest city is making a big deal of the installation, at least on its website. City officials boast: "Anchorage is blazing the trail in streetlight improvement policies, and communities across the state, the country, and around the world are watching closely to follow our lead."

Anchorage often goes all out to boast of its accomplishments. If it doesn't, nobody pays attention. But the message is sound. Energy efficiency works.

Photo: PG&E replacing street lights with LED fixtures in Napa.

Energy efficiency and the Enterprise: I'm giving it all she's got captain

In about three months, most of the energy efficiency work I've been trying to get done the past two years must be complete.

So far, only a fraction has been put in place.

It's making me a little frantic to say the least. I feel like Montgomery Scott in the engine room of the Enterprise in an early episode of the original "Star Trek." Captain Kirk is on the bridge sweating buckets. The ship is surrounded by five Klingon warrior-class vessels pummeling its shields with everything in their arsenals.

Kirk: "Scotty, get us out of here."

Scott: (Without brogue) "I can't change the laws of physics. I've got to have 30 minutes."

Montgomery Scott: Mentor

I'm imagining the scene. Purists would point out how I sloppily combined several events. But Scotty somehow figured to pull a miracle every time even while saying, "I've given her all she's got captain, an' I canna give her no more." Or "The shape the thing's in, it's hard to keep it from blowin'."

He's my mentor when I feel overwhelmed. (Others of my generation likely can relate. I grew up in the 1960s in front of a black-and-white console TV.) And, at least in this case, his coaching via mental reruns appears to have helped.

The project started two years ago with great fanfare. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was meant to immediately inject cash into the economy and put people to work.

Slow, government crossing

Many know it by another name: stimulus money. I work with Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. They're very specific, targeting retrofits that generate immediate energy savings and instant payback in reduced utility bills.

On my list for the 34 cities and three counties I work with are mostly lights, air conditioning units and pump motors. All told, the savings will amount to 5.4 million kilowatt hours, or, depending on how you calculate it, about the same amount in pounds of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases.

No slouch there.

Retrofits save $

But turning grant money into pretty new T8 fluorescent and LED or induction lighting, SEER 13 ACs and premium efficiency custom motors has not been easy. After many regulatory hurdles, I finally got the go-ahead only to discover contracting the work out brought on its own hurdles.

Turns out that what the government will pay for the job didn't cover most contractors' costs. And my projects needed revisions and extra legwork. Two years is a long time and some projects that look good in 2009 don't work in 2012.

Now I've collected a crew of capable contractors willing to take on razor-thin margins to make the projects work. I'm going through each project and dealing with dozens of questions, problems and hassles.

"It's ... uh ... it's green!"

But now on the eve of the holidays, I believe we can make a go of it. Or at least a sporting fight. My contact at the California Energy Commission, who is working overtime to assist me, sometimes wonders whether we can pull it off and get all the measures installed before the money disappears.

After all, the clock on the project is ticking.

But I've got Scott's TV voice echoing in my mind. It's pointing out the stark reality (something like "This jury-rigging won't last for long" and "The warp drive is a hopeless pile of junk") while giving me the confidence to figure a solution before the end of the episode.

Testimonial: Energy efficiency can be tough (sometimes)

For the past two years, I've been helping cities and counties prepare to install energy efficiency retrofits.

It hasn't been simple. We're working with federal grants with very particular requirements. But the challenge caters to my make-the-world-a-better-place sensibilities.

And we've got a lot of company. Energy efficiency has caught fire in the past couple years. In the corporate world, companies are installing lighting and other electrical retrofits and establishing sustainability policies that revamp manufacturing and distribution practices. Their directive is to cut waste and promote savings of not only but energy but water and other materials.

Building information modeling, which enables designers to drop energy use like a rock, is sweeping the urban construction industry and is threatening to encompass more. Managers have learned to shave significant energy costs by monitoring and adjusting power consumption before construction and during occupancy. New products are coming on light rapidly that allow greater central control and monitoring.

And utilities are reworking their distribution networks by incorporating smart grid technology that offers game-changing savings through broad energy management protocols.

Into the light

Lighting retrofits are possibly the most cost-effective of these measures. And they're much of what I'm in charge of at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization. We've also got air conditioning, pumps and other retrofits.

Yet getting our projects installed has not been simple. From my Formica-covered table top in Fresno, I have been working to funnel federal stimulus money into the Valley economy via Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. It's been a long road. We're finally getting the projects bid, materials purchased and at least some problems resolved.

Some issues still pose difficulties. Because of the relatively low rate of reimbursement offered by the California Energy Commission for the energy efficiency retrofit measures, some of my cities and counties have struggled to find contractors. The small size of some projects haven't helped.

Get 'er done

The state has been working frantically to get jurisdictions finish their projects by the March 14, 2012 deadline. But California Energy Commission project officers can only offer advice and direction -- no extra funds.

I heard one county was able to figure out how to pay for the replacement of air conditioning units on the maximum reimbursement of $1,000 per ton. That's a pretty big deal, by the way. So I gave the woman in charge of the program a call.

She said her county had no magic bullet, just an employee who had spent years in the HVAC trade. The county purchased units from a manufacturer that certified its products as Buy American-ready and installed them itself rather than going to an outside contractor.

Energy savings American style

The SJVCEO wants to maximize the value of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants my team is administering. When complete, the retrofits would save 5.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity. We want to save all that energy.

However, about four months remain before our deadline to complete the work, and a number of our jurisdictions still need contractors. Many of our cities don't have the staff to do their own retrofits. All have had to make drastic budget cuts because of the economic slide of the past few years.

We discovered almost immediately that because of the reimbursement rates our jurisdictions were having trouble attracting interest even in this down economy. Requests for proposal issued by several cities turned up no interested bidders, while others came in with bids that far exceeded reimbursement costs.

Finding solutions

My boss charged my co-worker Sandy Nax and I to come up with a solution. We followed the formula of using a sole proprietor who has no employees and does all the work himself, thus avoiding Davis Bacon wage rates. But this work is difficult for one person.

Sandy tracked down names using an online contractor search engine and California's Contractors State License Board listings, and I started cold calling.

I eventually called 83 contractors all over the San Joaquin Valley. Three contractors expressed interest in air conditioning retrofits.

I'm hopeful we'll find lighting contractors interested as well. I'm not so sure about pump retrofits, but we all have our fingers crossed.

Nothing's simple with grants

I've been on the phone a lot explaining how the process works. Reimbursement is likely going to be slow, making it tough for contractors already strapped by an unforgiving economy.

I did reach a friendly contractor in Kingsburg who said, "I'm not interested in anything to do with the government." I get that. Seriously, I do. Working within the strict confines of federal grant requirements is enough to make anybody relate to rocker George Thorogood's request for "one bourbon, one scotch and one beer."

Maybe when the job's done. We're determined to make this work.

Photo: Corcoran pump 9A where we have retrofits planned.

Job-order contracting may be what's for dinner

Job-order contracting was developed to give governments a simpler option to bidding out every routine repair, replacement and maintenance job.

The concept offers up a single contractor to provide services over a period of time. Costs on future jobs would be kept low because they're based on bid prices for similar work, almost like industry-accepted parameters an auto mechanic uses to charge for labor. If his book says seven hours to swap a transmission or truck bed, that's what he or she uses.

Same thing with the job-order contractor. And in this case, the argument goes, the JOC would be able to keep costs low on even small jobs because the larger scope of the job over time.

Job-order contracting was designed in the 1980s by the military "as a way to overcome problems with the traditional design bid build method," according to a fact sheet by Arizona State University and the Alliance for Construction Excellence.

Interesting. At least it appears so. California Courts has approved about a dozen JOC companies for services in the statewide court system, and other organizations across the state are doing the same. The California Court services were bid, as is the acceptable practice.

I'm working on a similar proposal for work at 26 jurisdictions. But mine is a little different. This is for one-time work, energy efficiency retrofits, and it's relatively small potatoes as these things go. In addition, my nonprofit, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, is offering companies only the opportunity to be recommended to cities.

The jurisdictions I represent have money through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program for replacing lights, pump motors and air conditioning units. This money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as federal stimulus.

But the money's not very stimulating until it can be spent. We've worked nearly a year on administrative duties meeting myriad government regulations specific to our unusual circumstances and are just now getting ready to start work. Most of the cities and counties in our partnership would like to have had this work completed already.

And time is running out. We are able to use this method of contracting because of that time crunch since it is advertised to speed things up. ARRA funds must be spent in the next 12 months or be lost.

It is up to each or our individual jurisdictions whether to use the job-order contracting option. Otherwise we bid out the work through conventional means. That's a time-consuming process and likely will be tough on small cities not expecting to have to go through the process.

I just gave an update to a city I'm working with, saying: "Every city will have to bid out the work. However, I'm trying my best to come with an alternative that has to do with job-order contracting and indefinite quantity construction contracts. It's a fancy way of saying a jurisdiction chooses to go with a pre-selected contractor using a 'price book' of already low bid pricing. We're bidding out the opportunity for the SJVCEO to recommend a company or process for this, and I'll keep you posted."

I'm no expert. I like to use the disclaimer that I spent 23 years working for newspapers, researching topics that were published daily. I've dug into this topic with my usual zeal and spoken with multiple people across the country. What I've discovered sounds like a promising prospect for time-strapped governments.

We'll see how it goes.

SJVCEO tackles energy efficiency retrofits

We are finally moving ahead with a $4 million energy efficiency project that's been in bureaucratic limbo for the past eight months.

Back in January, the staff of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, the Air District and officials from 33 Valley cities and three counties submitted applications to the California Energy Commission for energy saving retrofits on municipal buildings. The money was a direct allocation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act given to cities aross the nation to jump start the economy.

That jump start, at least in our case, was somewhat delayed. However, state officials now say they're raring to go.

The SJVCEO provides the administration duties for these Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants. The duties were far greater than advertised and required quite a bit of data collection after the original submission date.

And we've got a lot more to go. I suspect it will take us a couple of weeks (or more) to gather permits, fill out waste management plans and fill in all the unanswered questions required in the CEC's multi-page reporting form.

Projects involve replacing lights, pumps and AC units.

But at least we can get to work and free up this money meant to create jobs. Optimistically, I believe work will start before the end of the year.