Fresno County

SJV Clean Transportation Center: Dec./Jan. Newsletter

Welcome to the December 2017 San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center Newsletter. With funding from the California Energy Commission, CALSTART opened the Center with the goal to accelerate the use of clean vehicles and fuels and help the region more quickly meet air quality targets.

San Joaquin Valley to Receive More Than $88 Million in State Cap-and-Trade Funds 

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) Governing Board at its Dec. 21 meeting voted to accept more than $88 million in funding from the state's cap-and-trade proceeds. The Valley is receiving $80 million – nearly a third of $250 million allocated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)  to fund Carl Moyer projects and clean trucks that meet Prop 1B guidelines.

Another $8.4 million is for AB 617 implementation, which requires air monitoring at the community level in order to better protect those in areas most impacted by air pollution.

Even better news is that significantly more money will be heading to the San Joaquin Valley. (See graphic above from the presentation made to the SJVAPCD Board.) The Air District expects to receive millions more for dairy digesters, several programs targeting emissions reductions in agriculture, and greenhouse gas projects for food processors.

"It's the most we have ever seen, and perhaps the most we will ever get," President/CEO Roger Isom of the California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association said during public comments made at the meeting. He encouraged the Air District to move quickly to get the funding distributed. The state has set strict deadlines, mandated by law, requiring funds to be encumbered (under executed contract) by June 30, 2019, and liquidated (paid out) by June 30, 2021.

Biorem Energy President Mark Terry, who traveled from Idaho to attend the meeting, encouraged the Air District to examine existing funding criteria for heavy-duty trucks so that larger trucking companies would have more of an incentive to convert diesel trucks in their fleets to compressed natural gas (CNG). He suggested a trade-up component as well, where high-mileage trucks that may only be three to five years old would not need to be destroyed. SJVAPCD Air Pollution Control Officer Seyed Sadredin indicated they are working with CARB to allow a trade-up provision.    

A DC fast charger opened recently at Kern Federal Credit Union, becoming the first level 3 charger in downtown Bakersfield. The Air District's Charge Up! program, which helped fund this project, recently was expanded to include workplace charging sites.

Charge Up! Expands to Workplace Sites; New EV Funds Target Fresno County 

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's (SJVAPCD) Charge Up! program, which provides funding for EV charging equipment and infrastructure, is expanding to include workplace charging. The program previously required chargers to be open to the public for a minimum of 30 hours per week.

Charge Up! also will shift to a voucher-based system from a rebate program to increase program participation, efficiency and flexibility, resulting in an overall streamlining of the program. A new application will be available soon. To date, $1.3 million has been awarded by the Air District for 182 level 2 and level 3 EV chargers

A new state program debuted Dec. 20 in Fresno County, providing $4 million in new funding for EV charging and infrastructure projects. The Fresno County Incentive Project (FCIP) is the first incentive project to be launched under the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project (CALeVIP).

FCIP will provide rebates for the purchase and installation of eligible level 2 electric vehicle chargers to owners of commercial properties, apartments, condominiums, workplaces and public agencies in Fresno County. Rebate amounts are up to $4,000 for single-port EV charging stations and $7,000 for dual-port EV charging stations. FCIP funding may be combined with Charge Up!, which offers $5,000 per unit for single-port chargers and $6,000 per unit for dual-port chargers. Charge Up! also will fund up to $25,000 for DC fast chargers, with funding approved on a case-by-case basis.

CALeVIP is funded by the California Energy Commission (CEC) and implemented by the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), which also administers the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). CALeVIP currently is funded for more than $15 million, with the potential to receive up to $200 million.

“As the state transitions to cleaner transportation in order to meet clean air standards and climate goals, it’s important to increase access to the charging infrastructure that makes plug-in electric vehicles a more viable option for communities across California,” Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott said in an article posted on CSE's website.

An application and guidelines are on the FCIP website. Read the entire CSE article for more information

Two Proterra Catalyst buses will be added to Yosemite's shuttle fleet in late 2018, making it the first U.S. national park to permanently add battery-electric, zero-emission buses to its fleet. 

Yosemite Becomes First U.S. National Park to Purchase Electric Buses 

Yosemite National Park will add two Proterra Catalyst electric buses to its fleet, becoming the first U.S. national park to permanently add zero-emission, battery-electric buses to its shuttle fleet. The buses will begin service in late 2018 and will operate throughout the year, transporting up to 1,480 visitors per day.

One of the nation's most-visited national parks, Yosemite attracts more than five million visitors from around the world each year. Increased vehicle congestion has contributed to air pollution and noise problems in the park, and Yosemite relies heavily on its shuttle program to encourage visitors to park once and use a bus to circulate among lodges, waterfalls and trailheads. This free shuttle service travels approximately 436,000 miles with 3.8 million boardings annually. 
In 2001, the park began replacing its diesel bus fleet with diesel-electric hybrid vehicles. The new Proterra Catalyst buses are expected annually to reduce 887,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and save approximately $150,500 on maintenance and operating costs. 
“Since its establishment in 1890, airborne pollutants have steadily degraded Yosemite’s resources," said Yosemite National Park Acting Superintendent Chip Jenkins. "Deploying Proterra’s battery-electric buses will help with this ongoing challenge and will greatly improve local air quality.”
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has committed to greening the federal fleet, including the national parks, by working with businesses to make cleaner, quieter transportation readily available and affordable to partner agencies. As a resullt, GSA's list of federal fleet acquisition options now includes the Proterra Catalyst.
“The Proterra team is especially proud to directly contribute to the preservation of Yosemite National Park.," said Proterra President and CEO Ryan Popple. "We are honored to partner with the National Park Service to provide clean, quiet transportation to the millions of visitors who love to visit our national parks.”

With its headquarters in Burlingame, Proterra also has offices in the Los Angeles area in the City of Industry and in Greenville, South Carolina. The company currently has more than 490 electric buses operating in 61 different municipal, university, airport and commercial transit agencies in 29 states.

Thomas Paddon 

Paddon Joins SJVCTC Staff  

Thomas Paddon is the new Regional Project Manager for CALSTART's San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center (SJVCTC), joining the staff in December. He currently is working with SJVCTC Director Joseph Oldham to open a new office in Stockton and will be responsible for driving the Center’s objectives in the northern San Joaquin Valley, taking a pragmatic, economics-driven approach to accelerating the growth of clean transportation technologies.

Prior to CALSTART, he spent many years helping to develop startup businesses, primarily in the solar and electric vehicle space. Most recently, he was working with a solar software startup whose mission was to speed the adoption of solar, battery storage and electric vehicle investments using electricity usage data.

Paddon earned his master of arts degree in Management from the University of Redlands and a bachelor of arts degree in French and International Business from the University of South Florida. As a commercial pilot, he is excited to be a part of CALSTART’s Sustainable Aviation Project that features electric aircraft.

The mission of the SJVCTC is to provide no-cost technical assistance, project development expertise and assistance with acquiring project funding to San Joaquin Valley vehicle fleet owners, businesses and residents with the goal of reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality. To help achieve that mission, the Center is working with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, SoCalGas Co., Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and others to speed the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations and natural gas fueling infrastructure.

News Briefs... 


Those looking to buy an electric vehicle in 2018 can breathe a sigh of relief. The federal EV income tax credit of up to $7,500 has been retained in the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package signed by President Donald J. Trump on Dec. 22.

The credit had been eliminated in the House proposal drafted by Republicans several weeks ago, but was included in the Senate's version of the tax bill. That led to speculation in recent weeks about the fate of this important incentive for EV buyers and the potential impact on the EV industry. 

CALSTART, in a letter signed by many of its more than 180 member companies, lobbied to keep the credit, stating that it "protects U.S. job creation and leadership in the electric vehicle sector." See a
USA Today article for more details.


Seyed Sadredin has announced he will retire in 2018 after leading the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District since 2006. His career in air quality has spanned more than three decades.

Samir Sheikh will succeed Sadredin as the District's Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO), effective July 7. A longtime Air District employee, Sheikh currently serves as Deputy APCO with leadership over the Strategies and Incentives Department and several other administrative areas of the organization.    

Looking for Grant Information?

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District offers a variety of grants and incentive programs for public agencies, residents, businesses and technology. Interested parties should apply early since incentives typically are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A complete list of current incentive programs is available on the Air District website.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) administers grant programs funded through various sources, including the cap-and-trade program. A complete list of the various funding programs is available on the
CARB website.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) also administers grant programs for transportation technology. Go to the 
CEC website for information.

Various federal agencies offer grants and incentives for transportation technology each year. All federal agencies use the website for submitting and receiving grant applications. 

“The CALSTART San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center is a joint project between CALSTART and the California Energy Commission (CEC). It is funded through a grant from the CEC with the mission to assist residents and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley deploy cleaner transportation options to help improve air quality and promote economic prosperity.  For more information about CALSTART, visit”

Copyright © 2017 by CALSTART, All rights reserved.

Contact Us
Joseph Oldham, Director    Thomas Paddon, Regional Project Manager
San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center
Fresno Address: 510 W. Kearney Blvd., Fresno, CA 93706
Fresno Phone: (559) 797-6034
Stockton Address: 5000 S. Airport Way, Suite #208, Stockton, CA 95206
Stockton Phone: (626) 744-5637
Email: and

Newsletter Editor: Brenda Turner, Project Clean Air

SJV Clean Transportation Center: Oct./Nov. Newsletter

Welcome to the October/November 2016 San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center Newsletter. With funding from the California Energy Commission, CALSTART opened the Center with the goal to accelerate the use of clean vehicles and fuels and help the region more quickly meet its air quality targets.
Nearly 150 Attend Inaugural SJV Clean Transportation Summit Oct. 19 in Clovis 

The inaugural San San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit was attended by close to 150 people. Conducted Oct. 19 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District in Clovis, the Summit provided an opportunity to learn about the latest in advanced, clean transportation technology options right here in the Valley through an up close and personal experience. Attendees were able to interact with owners and operators of clean emission vehicles, meet with manufacturers and dealers, hear from state and local agencies, and learn about rebate and incentive programs.

In addition to speakers and breakout sessions on topics including electric vehicles and natural gas alternatives, the Summit featured vendor booths and numerous vehicles on display. The event opened with speeches from dignitaries and industry leaders, including California Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula, CALSTART President and CEO John Boesel (pictured above left) and George Minter, Regional Vice President of External Affairs and Environmental Strategy, Southern California Gas Co. Keynote speakers were Oliver L. Baines III, Fresno City Council; Sheraz Gill, Director of Strategies and Incentives, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District; and John Kato (pictured above right), Deputy Director of Fuels and Transportation Division, California Energy Commission. The day ended with vehicle ride-and-drive demonstrations.

The Summit was organized by CALSTART in partnership with Fresno State’s Office of Community and Economic Development and various industry partners. View the Summit video to see highlights of the event.

Envision Solar's EV ARC, using solar panels to power Level 2 electric vehicle chargers from Telefonix, soon will appear at city halls throughout Fresno County, making it the first county in the nation to have EV charging in all of its incorporated cities.

Fresno County to be First in Nation to Get EV Charging in Rural Incorporated Cities

Selma residents in late November will see an EV ARC™ providing electric vehicle charging at city hall, followed by similar installations at Kingsburg, Fowler, Kerman, San Joaquin, Huron, Coalinga, Firebaugh, Mendota, Orange Cove, Reedley, Sanger and Parlier. When completed, Fresno County will be the first in the nation to have EV charging at all of its rural incorporated cities. Fresno and Clovis already have several Level 2 EV charging sites, as well as DC fast chargers (Level 3) at multiple locations.

Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA) General Manager Moses Sites outlined the project for those attending the electric vehicle breakout session at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit Oct. 19. FCRTA is directing the project with assistance from CALSTART and funding from several sources, including the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's Charge Up! program, which now offers funding for the EV ARC™.

Envision Solar has patented the EV ARC™ that couples solar power with on-board battery storage to provide EV charging day or night, even during power outages and emergencies. In addition to being transportable, the EV ARC™ does not require any permits, civil engineering or planning, foundations, trenching or electrical connections. The Fresno County sites all will be installed with two Level 2 PowerPost EVSE chargers from Telefonix. 

This Angus Transportation, Inc., truck features a Cummins Westport ISX12-G natural gas engine.  

Natural Gas Engines Provide Clean, Reliable Alternative for Trucking Fleets 

Near-Zero (NZ) emissions from new natural gas engines offer the heavy-duty market technology that is available today and deployable today, George Minter, Regional Vice President of External Affairs and Environmental Strategy for Southern California Gas Co., told those attending the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit Oct. 19.

The Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) offers point-of-sale incentives for clean trucks and buses in California. Administered by CALSTART, HVIP's low-NOx incentives (tracked separately than conventional HVIP funding) are designed to cover the full incremental cost over a standard natural gas engine and includes both repowers as well new vehicles. A total of 1.86 million in incentives currently is available exclusively for low-NOx engines/vehicles, with approximately another $21 million in voucher funding added in February 2017. Incentive amounts are determined by the increased incremental cost, with current caps at $15,000 and increasing to $25,000 in February to accommodate the eventual introduction of larger Near-Zero 12 liter engines.
Although more trucks and buses will be added in the future, current eligible engines/vehicles and incentive amounts include:
  • Repower any vehicle with Cummins ISL G Near-Zero 8.9 liter engine, $15,000 
  • New Autocar Xpeditor Refuse Truck with ISL G Near-Zero 8.9 liter engine, $8,500
  • New ElDorado National Transit Bus with ISL G Near-Zero 8.9 liter engine, $15,000
  • New Gillig Transit Bus with ISL G Near-Zero 8.9 liter engine, $10,000
For more information, go to the HVIP website or call 888-457-HVIP. 

Chevrolet Bolt Expected to Drive 2017 Sales as California Tops 250,000 EVs 

It isn't even at dealerships yet, but with the EPA estimating an electric range of 238 miles and a base sticker price of $37,495 before rebates and incentives, the Chevrolet Bolt already is getting a lot of attention. It has won the prestigious 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year award and has been named the Green Car Reports Best Car to Buy 2017. If such accolades aren't enough for those with any remaining range anxiety, 238 miles is the approximate distance from Bakersfield to Stockton!

California leads the nation in EV sales and is anticipated to top 250,000 EVs sold by this month, according to a Nov. 14 news release by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative (PEVC). "The 2017 Chevy Bolt EV – the first EV capable of 238 miles of range and offered at an affordable price – will arrive in Chevy showrooms this year and provides an ideal option for even more buyers to purchase an electric vehicle,” Steve Majoros, Marketing Director, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers, said in the PEVC news release.   

San Joaquin Valley residents who purchase or lease a new EV may qualify for up to $15,000 in rebates and incentives, depending on income and eligibility. In addition to a $7,500 federal tax credit, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's Drive Clean rebate is $3,000 and the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) provides an additional $2,500 for all-electric vehicles. While CVRP now has a cap for higher-income consumers, Californians with low and moderate incomes can get increased rebates. Consumers with household incomes less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($72,900 for a family of four for 2016) are eligible for an increased rebate amount of $2,000, bringing the total state rebate amount to $4,500. (Photo by Jennette Waymire)

Most significantly, the Chevy Bolt signals what is to come for EVs. Until now, only Tesla has offered EVs with a range of more than 200 miles – but at more than twice the cost of a Bolt. Tesla has taken nearly 400,000 reservations for its much-hyped Model 3, which its website says will have "215 miles of range per charge while starting at only $35,000 before incentives" and will go into production by mid-2017. The Leaf is the nation's top-selling EV, first introduced in 2010. Nissan has released few details about its 2018 model due out late next year, but it also is expected to compete with the Bolt both in range and price.

Although Valley dealers may receive some Bolts in December and January, they don't know how many they will get and expect them to sell quickly. Those interested in reserving a Bolt can do so by putting down a $500 refundable deposit. In the Fresno area, contact Melissa Dominguez at Hedrick's Chevrolet at 559-347-5436 or In the Modesto area, contact David Schene at American Chevrolet at 209-499-6380 or In the Bakersfield area, contact Jennette Waymire at 3 Way Chevrolet at 661-444-1761 or (Photo by Jennette Waymire)   

Biodico Westside Bringing Clean Biofuel and Green Jobs to the San Joaquin Valley

Biodico Westside is the world’s first fully sustainable liquid biofuel facility in the San Joaquin Valley. Located at Red Rock Ranch in Five Points, the world’s first "Zero Net Energy Farm," these facilities will serve as templates for California and the country as a whole, Biodico Founder and President Russ Teall, told a group attending Fresno State University's San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Cluster meeting Nov. 9 during a tour of the site and presentation.

In addition to processing recyclable feedstocks, including used cooking oil, vegetable oil and animal fats to name a few, the facility also utilizes anaerobic digestion, gasification and an advanced utility scale solar cogeneration system. Biodico Westside produces up to 20 million gallons of biodiesel per year, supplying renewable fuel to the ag industry's truck fleet, and also has created "green jobs" in a disadvantaged area with high unemployment and poor air quality.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded a $1.2 million grant for the project. In addition to the SJV Clean Energy Cluster, some of the other project collaborators include the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the U.S. Navy, which is the world's largest user of diesel fuel. Biodiesel can be used in diesel engines with little or no modification while providing significant emissions benefits.

To learn more, see the Zero Net Energy Farms presentation from the Nov. 9 meeting or view Biodico's video
Director's Message
By Joseph Oldham

Well, if you missed the CALSTART San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Summit on Oct. 19 at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Facility in Clovis, we have a video of the event in this edition of the newsletter to help you see and hear what you missed and, hopefully, encourage you to attend the next one. About 150 people attended the event and the responses from our post-Summit satisfaction survey indicated that most of the attendees plan to come back next time, so stay tuned.

For this edition of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center Newsletter, I want to encourage you to pay close attention to two articles about new opportunities to have cleaner vehicles operating in the region. One is about the addition of significant funding to the HVIP program, which CALSTART administers for truck and bus engine conversions and new vehicle purchases using the new Cummins ISL-G Ultra Low NOx 9 liter engine. If you operate a vocational truck fleet or bus fleet and are planning to replace vehicles in 2017, you should seriously consider specifying the Cummins ISL-G Ultra Low NOx engine and taking advantage of the new HVIP incentives in addition to potential incentives from the San Joaquin Valley Air District Prop 1B program.

The second article is on the new Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric SUV that will be coming to a Chevy dealer near you in 2017. This remarkable advance in all-electric drive vehicle capacity has an EPA-certified mileage of 238 miles on a single charge and seats five people. Priced in the mid-$30,000 range after the federal tax credit, the Bolt is a game changer for the San Joaquin Valley in terms of range and utility.  Imagine being able to drive round trip from Fresno to Bakersfield on a single charge using no gasoline! The Bolt has no oil to change, no smog checks, 0 to 60MPH in 6.5 seconds, and it is a small SUV with five-passenger seating capacity.

Finally, also note the work by Fresno County Rural Transit Agency (FCRTA) to deploy solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations in the thirteen (13) rural cities in Fresno County! The Envision Solar EV ARC stations are totally self-sufficient, requiring no electricity from the electric grid. Because they are solar powered, they will provide free electric vehicle charging for residents, as well as support deployment by FCRTA of advanced electric shuttle vans for their on-demand transit service in the communities.

As 2016 is ending, it has been a year that has seen very positive advancements of cleaner transportation technology in the San Joaquin Valley. The forecast for 2017 is for even greater strides! Best wishes for a safe and prosperous holiday season from the CALSTART San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center!

“The CALSTART San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center is a joint project between CALSTART and the California Energy Commission (CEC). It is funded through a grant from the CEC with the mission to assist residents and businesses in the San Joaquin Valley deploy cleaner transportation options to help improve air quality and promote economic prosperity. For more information about CALSTART, visit

Quotes from the 2016 Summit

"We have the technology. It is doable through this partnership to have clean air in the Valley."
John Boesel
President and CEO, CALSTART

"Eighty percent of the emissions that contribute to smog come from the transportation sector."
George Minter
Southern California Gas Co.
"We can lead not just the state, but the world."
Dr. Joaquin Arambula
California State Assembly

"It is extremely important for us to incentivize these zero and near-zero technologies."
Oliver L. Baines III
Fresno City Council
"The San Joaquin Valley is at a critical juncture in meeting federal Clean Air Act mandates."
Sheraz Gill
San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
"I would like to use the Valley as an example of sustainability."
John Kato
California Energy Commission
"Electric vehicles aren't just for the rich or those living in the Bay Area or Los Angeles."
Colette Kincaid
San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

Looking for Grant Information?

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District offers a variety of grants and incentive programs for public agencies, residents, businesses and technology. Interested parties should apply early since incentives typically are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A complete list of current incentive programs is available on the Air District website.

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) administers grant programs funded through various sources, including the Cap-and-Trade program. A complete list of the various funding programs is available on the
ARB website.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) also administers grant programs for transportation technology. Go to the 
CEC website for information.

Various Federal agencies offer grants and incentives for transportation technology each year. All Federal agencies use the website for submitting and receiving grant applications. 


Copyright © 2016 by CALSTART, All rights reserved.

Contact Us
Joseph Oldham, Director
San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center
Address: 510 W. Kearney Blvd., Fresno, CA 93706
Phone: (559) 797-6034

Newsletter Editor: Brenda Turner, Project Clean Air

Guest Blogger: Can solar calm the coming storm?

Tom Cotter is a renewable energy evangelist, social entrepreneur, activist, trained presenter for the Climate Reality Project, and ordained minister. Professionally, Tom is Regional Sales Manager at Real Goods Solar. He is Chairman and President of the International Green Industry Hall of Fame and serves on the boards of both the Solar Living Institute and Restore Hetch Hetchy. You can learn more about Tom on his website, SolarTomCotter

This article was originally published on November 9 on the

A screen-grab of the Hurricane Sandy Wind Map infographic taken at 10:26 AM 30 Oct 2012. The surface wind data in this beautiful wind map from (Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg) comes from the National Digital Forecast Database. 

Going solar is part of solving the climate disruption we are experiencing. 
Though climate change failed to emerge as a topic during the 2012 presidential debates, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did raise it in the final days before the election and in the wake of Hurrican Sandy's devastation, citing President Barack Obama's leadership on the issue as his reason for endorsing the president for a second term. 
“Our climate is changing,” Bloomberg wrote for Bloomberg View. “And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be - given this week’s devastation - should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”
If the issue is indeed now on the table, the next question is what can we do to slow or reverse the effects of climate change?
Clean energy is a key part of the equation. Clean energy creates electricity by tapping into natural cycles and systems, turning the ever-present energy around us into usable forms while producing little or no pollution, including avoiding greenhouse gas emissions.
Out of the variety of clean energy sources, solar power, geothermal, ocean currents, wind, hydroelectric and biomass, solar is an obvious strong option, especially in California, where we typically have lots of sun.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, solar energy from the sun is a vast and inexhaustible resource around the globe. Just 20 days of sunshine contains more energy than the world’s entire supply of coal, oil, and natural gas.
In Fresno County, California, which suffers, even in good times, from more enduring high unemployment than the rest of the state and nation, solar is an even brighter spot.
Data from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) shows that solar growth over the past several years has primarily come from lower and middle income zip codes. With an average median zip code income of $43,000, Fresno County saw a 122 percent increase in CSI applications from 2007 to 2011.
In looking at what is going on across the country with solar jobs, the solar industry in the U.S. increased its workforce by 6.8 percent from August 2010 to August 2011, according Solar Energy Industry of America. That is a growth of nearly ten times faster than the overall economy.
More good news for Californians is the passing of Proposition 39, which is estimated to create 20,000 to 30,000 jobs for disadvantaged youth, veterans and others in clean energy projects and building efficiency retrofits. In closing a tax loophole that gave out-of-state corporations an unfair advantage over those based in-state, this change will increase annual state revenues by roughly $1 billion, with half - capped at $550 million - going to a new state Clean Energy Job Creation Fund for the first five years and the remainder going into the state’s general fund, according to the Yes on Prop 39 website. It accomplishes this without raising taxes on Californians.
Those are the kind of positive economic force the Valley can use. Jobs, lower energy costs and efficient buildings that are cheaper to operate are not only a win for residents, but also for our environment.
Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful. We are beginning to see the effects on humans from this atmospheric experiment.
The impacts of climate change can be daunting, even frightening. But we are not helpless. It is wise and prudent to increase our use of available and affordable clean forms of energy. These choices will reduce global warming pollution and help turn things around both now and for the future.
As this planet is the only home we have for now, we have an obligation to ourselves and to future generations to be responsible stewards.
If you like this article, please Share it, Tweet it, Subscribe (above) or LikeSolarTomCotter on Facebook.
The views expressed by our guest bloggers are those of the author(s) and not necessarily representative of or an endorsement by the Organization

Central California is becoming Solar Central

Summer is coming, and that means the Valley's famous triple-digit temperatures aren't far away. Utility bills will surge and Facebook status reports will be akin to: "Holy cow, I got my power bill today!" That's the G rated version anyway.

Solar really makes sense in Central California, where nature's most abundant resource blazes away up to 300 days per year. These solar projects have made news in recent days:  This appeared on The Fresno Bee web site. The police station is just a few miles from my house, and will be the largest public solar project in Clovis. That follows on the heels of this announcement of a packinghouse in Fowler adding 12 acres of solar panels and this one  of the massive 550-megawatt Topaz project breaking ground in San Luis Obispo County just west of us in Fresno.

But those aren't all. Analysts count about 70 proposals before county planners from Merced to Kern counties, with about 30 in Fresno County. Just the Fresno County proposals total about 10,600 acres.Those don't include smaller rooftop, municipal or some farming projects.

It remains to be seen how many are approved or become operational, but there is not denying Central California is a hot spot for solar power.

Photo: California Energy Commission photo of solar plant near Kerman in Fresno County

California farmers harvesting the sun and wind

The sun is nature's most abundant resource, especially in the world's salad bowl - the San Joaquin Valley. The sun shines up to 300 days per year here, and summer temperatures can reach I-can-feel-my-hair-catching-fire levels.

Utility bills soar in the summer when energy use is high. So much, in fact, that an acquaintance once wrote in despair on his Facebook page, "Are power bills supposed to have commas in them?"

Agriculture is the leading industry and a major employer here, and farmers have an up close and personal relationship with energy. By some estimates, the food system in the United States consumes around 16% of the nation's energy.

"from the manufacture and application of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation, through crop and livestock production, processing, and packaging; distribution services, such as shipping and cold storage; the running of refrigeration, preparation, and disposal equipment in food retailing and foodservice establishments; and in home kitchens," notes a March 2010 study by the federal Economic Research Service entitled, "Energy Use in the U.S. Food System."

So, cutting energy bills makes sense for farmers, who also can reduce their sometimes heavy carbon footprints. Which explains why agricultural operations in the San Joaquin Valley are embracing renewable energy, most commonly solar power.

Onion grower/processor Varsity Produce of Bakersfield is among the latest. Part of the energy for its packing and cold storage operation comes from the sun. “After looking at solar for several years, we finally saw numbers that made a lot of economic sense and we can now feel really good about decreasing our carbon footprint," Operations Manager Brent Rhodes said in this news release that appeared in greentechmedia.

Varsity Produce is hardly alone in its pursuit of alternative energy. Cenergy, the solar provider For Varsity, has installed several solar arrays in agricultural operations throughout the Valley and state. Here is more.

And Cenergy isn't alone in the crowded agricultural solar market. REC Solar, SolFocus and others are staking out positions. Ryan Park, Director of Business Development at REC Solar, says in this blog post that farming operations are more than a niche for his company. Sierra2theSea gives a nice overview in this post.

The federal government is adding fuel with its Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP. Since President Obama took office three years ago, the USDA REAP program has aided 74 projects totaling 15.3 million kilowatts in California, most of them distributed generation developments that produce or save power on site, according to this just-released report.

The California projects included 61 solar arrays, four wind turbine developments and three energy-efficiency upgrades. Lyall Enterprises of the San Diego area and Roberti Ranch north of Lake Tahoe, for example, used REAP loan guarantees and grants to install solar-energy systems to power their irrigation pumps.

Most of the agriculture operations use small on-site operations, but solar developers in California, which has an ambitious 33 percent renewables goal by 2020, are applying for large utility-scale solar operations in the San Joaquin Valley, the high deserts of Kern County and the desert regions of Southern California.

The proposals have sparked opposition from agriculture groups who fear losing prime farm land and environmentalists who worry about disrupting habitat. Thus, individual counties, such as Fresno, are developing solar policies. Here is what Fresno County Supervisors designed, according to The Fresno Bee.

It appears farmers are harvesting much more than just crops.

California On Way To Becoming Solar State?

One of my former newspaper colleagues referred in this post to "The great Central Valley solar rush," but it turns out that might be too regional. California could well become the great Solar State.

The number of proposed solar projects exceeds what is required to meet California's ambitious 33 percent renewables by 2020 mandate, according to this Reuters story. It's unlikely that all the proposals will be approved, but it is encouraging to the solar energy movement. I wonder if California will exceed the 33 percent mandate and, if so, by how much?

Solar makes sense in California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California deserts where the sun shines brightly and land is abundant. There are challenges, however: Some farmers in the Valley fear conflicts with prime ag land, while habitat and other environmental concerns plague some desert projects.

The solar vs farmland issue will be discussed Feb. 6 by planning commissioners in Kings County, where an advisory agency is recommending that solar projects not be placed on land protected under The Williamson Act or on property that is designated "medium priority" or higher. Here is a study document that commissioners will review.

Still, solar is making inroads. Fresno property owners are discovering the power in rooftop solar, and the Valley's farmers are fast adding renewable sources to their operations. Agriculture and water pumping consume about 3.15% of the total power used in PG&E and SCE territories, according to the California Energy Commission, so participation from the farming community is welcome.

I lack the mental bandwidth to understand all the physics involved, but technological advances in solar energy are coming at a breath-taking rate. Costs are decreasing, and it won't be long until solar power reaches parity. Read here about what our friends at UC Merced's fast-emerging solar-energy research center are doing.

With costs falling and Gov. Brown's support, solar could expand in earnest in California, and we'll have more proposals such as this large one for thousands of solar panels in the west side of Fresno County.

Photo of Kerman solar substation courtesy of California Energy Commission

Could the San Joaquin Valley grow solar trees?

San Joaquin Valley farmers are among the most productive and efficient in the world, so it doesn't come as a shock to learn they are embracing solar power, which can reduce their costs, decrease their carbon footprints and potentially be a new cash crop.

This edition of sierra2thesea - produced by a former Valley resident who now lives on the Central Coast - has a couple stories on the subject. One covers the overall growth of solar down on the farm and the other notes three proposed solar projects in Fresno County, including one that combines solar "trees" with regular fruit trees as a way to possibly ease the conflict between prime farm land and renewable energy.

Solar power makes sense in a region with up to 300 days of sun per year, high power bills and vast expanses of land, but farm officials worry about possible conflicts with the $6 billion agriculture industry in Fresno County. More on those conflicts here.

If those conflicts can be managed, the San Joaquin Valley could see more solar energy. The Fresno metropolitan region already ranks fourth in the state in its use of rooftop solar (more on that here) and the robust potential of solar arrays at farms and other sites in the 27,000 square miles that encompass the Valley could make us a showcase for renewable energy.

Maybe we could become known as Solar Valley.

Stand Aside: The Rush To Solar Valley Is On!

My office sits in one of the most fertile agriculture regions in the world. I just have to venture a few miles to see crops in every direction. Farmers in Fresno County last year produced almost $6 billion worth of grapes, tomatoes, almonds and other commodities, and employed more than 59,000 people.

It's no wonder that Fresno County and the rest of the Valley is often called the nation's salad bowl.

The same resources - such as ample amounts of flat land and sun - that make the Valley so fertile also are prompting what Lois Henry, a former colleague of mine, described in The Bakersfield Californian as, "The great Central Valley solar rush."

Kern County is home to some 32 solar applications that would encompass 17,000 acres. Likewise, Fresno County is fielding about 30 applications on 10,000 acres that collectively could be worth $5 billion. Kings County also is a solar hot spot.

Everyone acknowledges the emerging potential of the solar industry on the Valley. Farmers in California lead the nation in the use of renewable power, especially solar. It could be another cash crop for growers, could slash their operational costs, bring new life to unproductive farm land, reduce greenhouse gas emissions (electricity contributes about 25 percent of the state's emissions) and help reduce a stubborn double-digit unemployment rate.

But at what price? The Fresno County Farm Bureau opposes solar projects on prime acreage, but solar developers need to be close to the power grid. In this story, Fresno Bee reporter Kurtis Alexander quoted Steve Geil, president of the Economic Development Corporation in Fresno County: "There's a window here of opportunity. The companies are saying, 'Are you going to welcome us or are we going to find obstacle after obstacle after obstacle?' "

Alexander has devoted many inches of copy to the subject lately, including this story where Fresno County supervisors approved the cancellation of a Williamson Act conservation contract to permit a 27-megawatt, 318-acre solar project near San Joaquin, a tiny community on the county's west side with a 35 percent jobless rate. The panel said the land lacked water and thus was suitable for solar development.

But local governments are proceeding cautiously while developing strategies. Fresno County formed a group to study how much and where land should be devoted to solar. Kern County, according to Henry, has approved 1,444 megawatts from five projects, but also is treading tenderly.

Even projects proposed for marginal land have met opposition at times. A proposed 400 megawatt, 5,000 acre solar photovoltaic facility on land with poor water access in the Panoche Valley in San Benito County drew strong opposition from local ranchers and farmers - even though the local farm bureau supported the use of solar, according to a new study by UCLA and UC, Berkeley.

The opponents expressed concern about the project’s potential impact on their
agricultural land. Environmentalists said it endangered the San Joaquin kit fox and giant kangaroo, and the Audubon Society said it could hurt one of the world's best birding sites.

The joint UCLA/UC Berkeley report could help reach that delicate balance between agriculture and solar interests. It's called "Harvesting Clean Energy: How California Can Deploy Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects On Appropriate Farmland."

Here's a link.

Meeting California's 33 percent renewables goal will require a mixture of large-scale and centralized solar projects, such as those on rooftops and along roads. The study reveals that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has received requests to build approximately 34
large solar thermal power plants, totaling roughly 24,000 megawatts, on more than
300,000 acres.

By December 2010, the California Energy Commission approved
10 solar-thermal projects - seven of them on BLM land - totaling 4,192 megawatts of generating capacity. In addition, developers proposed 8,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects using wind and photovoltaic technologies.

In 2010, California local governments permitted 1,097 megawatts of non-thermal renewable energy capacity on private land. Kern and Los Angeles Counties approved an 800 megawatt wind project, a 230 megawatt photovoltaic project, and a 10 megawatt photovoltaic project.

Solano County permitted a 37-megawatt wind project, Kings County approved a 20 megawatt photovoltaic project and, in March, Kern County permitted a 6,047-acre Maricopa Sun solar project south of Bakersfield. The Maricopa installation alone will produce an estimated 700 megawatts of clean power.

However, the authors of the UCLA/UC Berkeley report noted that farmland is disappearing at the rate of one square mile every four days, and that potential for conflict arises even though the amount required for clean energy is relatively modest.

Only about 1.3 percent of the state's 30 million acres of farm and other suitable private and public land would be displaced. An additional 3.7 percent of the land would be required for less disruptive energy sources, such as wind turbines and dual-use of solar with farms and other types of localized generation.

However, energy transmission is a bug-a-boo; the report quoted the California Public Utility Commission's estimated requirement of seven new transmission lines needed to accommodate the 33 percent renewables mandate by 2020.

The report recommends upgrading the transmission infrastructure to meet the clean-energy power needs from remote and impaired agriculture sites. Other recommendations include developing energy policies for agriculture land and streamlining the permitting process for projects on impaired and unproductive farmland.

With a little effort and cooperation, the San Joaquin Valley and the rest of California could become a leader in clean energy.

Housing Administrator Puts Foot Down Re: PACE

The New York Times is reporting that homeowners who financed energy-efficiency upgrades through PACE-type programs will have to repay the "loans" before they can refinance their properties.
Property Assessed Clean Energy programs allow homeowners to finance improvements through a line item on their property tax. A lien is placed against the property, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said today that borrowers with equity have to pay them off before they can refinance loans. Those without equity can refinance with the lien in place.

PACE proponents contend the assessments are not loans, and shouldn't be subject to those rules.

t's obvious that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Freddie and Fannie, isn't interested in resolving the dispute over PACE. It's important because Fresno and Kern counties were to participate in a pilot program that would have allowed homeowners to finance improvements.
Here's more from the Times' blog.