Kings County

What Has SJVCEO Been up to in September

We hope that everyone is just as happy as SJVCEO that fall has arrived and it is now time for pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters!

For the VIEW Partnership we are embarking on one of the busiest months of the year, energy efficiency awareness month. The partnership continues its long tradition of fall outreach events with hosting four outreach event within Kings and Tulare Counties. These outreach events allow us to connect with residents on energy efficiency tips as well as bill saving programs from the IOU's. We also enjoy that the partnership is able to connect with local supervisors on energy issues and betterment of local communities. Please check out VIEW website for upcoming events. We might just be in your neighborhood during the coming month. We also would like to applaud all of our partner cities and counties on their hard work over this past year. We were able to achieve the partnerships energy saving goal during the month of July. Now we are beginning to figure out the project pipeline for the coming year.

The partnership is also very excited to announce that the City of Visalia has just received ENERGY STAR Certification for its transit building. Visalia is the first partner city that has achieved the status. Way to go Visalia we applaud all of your hard work.

The HDR Partnership has also been very hard at work on finishing projects for the year of 2016 as well as brainstorming projects for 2017. We are happy to say that we already have projects in the que for 2017! We would also like to thank all of our partners who have been hard at work on projects. We are excited to be adding outreach events to the partnership next year. This year the partnership did take part in the conservation fair at the High Desert Mavericks stadium in August. It was wonderful connecting with residents on energy issues as hearing their praise for SoCal Edison. We look forward to participating in even more events in the future.

We would also like to wish all of our readers a Happy Halloween as we will not post another update until the beginning of November!  

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.

Solar in California and The Williamson Act

This Stockton Record story by Alex Breitler highlights an issue that could become more common in California as clean energy gains a higher profile: The Williamson Act, and the impact it has on solar and other projects.

As Breitler notes, The Williamson Act is a voluntary program in which farmers agree to keep their land undeveloped for 10 years in return for tax breaks. About one-third of all the private land in California is enrolled in the program, so odds are the two will sometimes clash - such as they have near Stockton.

The issue is complicated by the fact that The Williamson Act does not specifically address solar, thus the release of this primer by the state. It cites four ways in which solar could be permitted on such property, including declaring it compatible with agriculture.

Which, apparently, is the approach being used in Kings County, where solar proposals are coming in fast. Officials there have determined that solar is compatible where it is appropriate, and proposed legislation would cement that philosophy as state policy.

However, the same bill , according to this Hanford Sentinel story, also directs solar farms to only marginally productive and physically impaired lands. That worries Greg Gatzka, Kings County's community development director.

The Sentinel story by Eiji Yamashita quotes Gatzka as saying, "The draft language they have come out with ...goes far beyond where our policies have. This may even render most of our county possibly unable to house a lot of solar projects by the definitions they are putting in there."

Kings County offsets the potential loss of farmland by limiting solar projects to 25 to 30 years and requiring a soil-reclamation plan. In addition, the Sentinel story notes, the county requires the protection of farmland somewhere else as a trade off.

How this all shakes out is unknown, but the timing is interesting. It comes when state has passed a 33 percent renewables mandate, and when Gov. Brown, according to this report, is on the verge of appointing a green jobs czar in California.

Stay tuned.