LED lights

What has SJVCEO been up to?

Hello and happy new years to all of our loyal blog readers! We hope you have had a wonderful holiday and a safe new years.

We apologize for the long delay in posting an organizational update. SJVCEO has been busier than ever and not complaining. Since our last post in March our team has been working non-stop on energy projects, state utility outreach as well as policy work. So lets dig in!

The VIEW Partnership is very excited to say we have our FIRST partner city, City of Visalia, who has reached platinum within the Southern California Edison Energy Leader Partnership. We will be awarding the certificate to the city at our upcoming annual awards luncheon this week. To reach platinum level the city has saved over 2,114,358 kWh which equates to about $613,163 saved in energy costs. That money saved has gone back into the cities general funds and put to good use for the residents of the city.

Image result for HPS lights vs LEDMany of our VIEW partners have looked into and or signed up for the Southern California Edison streetlight retrofit program. In total we have eight cities who are in the que for what is being called the LS1 option E program within the utility. Through this program partners upgrade all Edison owned streetlights to LED and the cost of the upgrade will show as a line item on their bill for up to 20 years. Many of the partners will not see any change to their electricity bills as much of the energy savings will pay for the monthly cost. We are very excited to see how the large scale upgrade in the valley will turnout when complete within the next year.

Much of the partnerships summer and fall was dedicated to community outreach and informational meetings relating to AB2672. During all outreach the partnership provided free flu shots to residents, energy saving information as well as a time to speak with the CPUC commissioners in charge of deciding the direction of the state assembly bill. The partnership will continue to work with the state in outreach in regards to AB2672 and holding its annual energy awareness month events.

Our HDR Partnership has been very busy at work as well. Many partners are moving forward with lighting upgrades as well as the same street lighting program as the VIEW partners, LS1 option E. Our partners did throw a curve ball at Edison when asking if the LED lighting can with stand Mojave desert like conditions. Edison went to their researchers to make sure the equipment being used would hold to those conditions. We are happy to say that the LED technology passes the test but will have a shorter useful life than if it were in more temperate conditions. We are excited to for the upgrades as this change in lighting will help with maintenance and operation of street lighting for partners.

METU is off to a great start for the 2018 program year! Our team was able to close out 2017 with an insulation project in the City of Avenal. This project is projected to save the city more than 1/3 of its current energy costs for one of its largest public facilities and significant source of energy usage for the city. Savings verification reporting for the City of Avenal is planned for the 1st quarter of 2018.

Lighting audits were completed in partnership with PG&E at the end of 2017 for three large publicly-owned facilities in the City of Madera. These projects are anticipated to get underway in the first quarter of 2018.

The City of Arvin has experienced recent personnel changes. However, METU was able to get the new representative up to speed on recent progress and not allow the City of Arvin to lose any of its momentum for continuing energy savings projects. Following a coordination meeting with PG&E and the Kern County Energy watch, METU will assist the city of Arvin with additional lighting projects, HVAC replacement support, as well as assist with the tools to facilitate community outreach to promote PG&E programs.

Last but not least, METU has also been busy with benchmarking efforts for the cities of Sanger and Selma. Municipal Readiness Reports detailing project pipelines will be distributed soon!

This past year has been an adventure for the team, but we are very excited and thankful to continue to do the work that we are allowed to do on behalf of our partners.

Stay tuned for our next update!

Greening the Holidays

Where did 2015 go? Your guess is as good as mine, but the holidays are, in fact, upon us and there are a few things we can do to be more eco-friendly over the next few weeks.

Decorating for the holidays is always a must and for those of you who love to put on a good light show, make sure you invest in LED lights. They’ll last much longer than traditional lights and they won’t cause your holiday electricity bills to be as sky high as usual. Because who doesn’t love to find savings this time of year? To maximize these savings, use a timer on the lights or simply put a reminder on your phone so you can unplug them before you go to bed each night.
When decorating inside the house, nix the streamers and balloons; items that can only be used once are highly wasteful. Opt for items like gourds, fruits, pinecones, soy or beeswax candles and glass or pottery votives and ornaments. They are lasting and, in my opinion, so much more beautiful and seasonal.
Now that your home looks holiday-ready, it’s time to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. Many of you likely took advantage of those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and are done with the holiday shopping. Congratulations! You are not the terrible procrastinator that I am (sorry family and friends, I’ll get to it soon). If you are dilly-dallying like I am, follow these rules when you shop: bring your reusable bags and look for items that meet the criteria I laid out in my green shopping post back in July. Or, take a big family or friend trip instead of giving gifts – thank you to my sister-in-law-to-be for this great idea!
Once you’re ready to wrap the gifts, save your money and don’t buy wrapping paper. The wrapping paper will be used only once and it’ll immediately be thrown away. Yes, it’s pretty, but think about all the money- and waste-saving alternatives!
Look around your home for old newspapers, packing or kraft paper, and maps. Newspaper and maps make great already-decorated wrapping paper and you can always decorate plain kraft paper in whatever designs you like! Don’t be afraid to get creative! Fabric scraps is another great alternative; it may be a little more challenging to tack down (try fabric glue or a hot glue gun), but it’ll give your gifts an awesome texture and look!
You can always use junk mail as wrapping paper, too. More than likely, you currently have a lot of it because this is prime time junk mail season. We almost never look at it and, whether or not it’s used as wrapping paper, it ends up in the trash. If you’d rather use the previously mentioned items for wrapping your gifts, try to stop the junk mail deliveries immediately. As soon as you get mail from an unwanted store, find the 1-800 number on the back of the advertisement and request you be removed from the mailing list.
Last, but certainly not least, make sure your holiday eats are as sustainable as possible. We on the west coast are lucky and have access to farmers markets year round, but everyone can enjoy seasonal produce. This chart is a great resource for finding vegetables in season. Eating locally and seasonally is one of the best ways to cut down on emissions and be eco-friendly during the holidays. When it comes to storing your leftovers from the big feasts, use reusable storage containers like these or these; they’re great for freezing and are dishwasher safe! You can always have your guests bring their own reusable containers to take home any leftovers, too.
I hope you make this your greenest season yet. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Do you have any other holiday-greening ideas?

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

1.  Linear, Low-Bay/High-Bay LEDs Have Greatest Market Potential

For those interested in and following lighting technology, this article with results from a study completed by Navigant Research should be useful.  To read the article, go here:  http://www.energymanagertoday.com/linear-low-bayhigh-bay-leds-greatest-market-potential-0114446/

2.  August 28 DAWG workshop on AAEE for the Demand Forecast

CPUC staff and the Demand Analysis Working Group (DAWG) will be hosting an Energy Savings Subgroup workshop to discuss the incorporation of Additional Achievable Energy Efficiency (AAEE) into the CA Energy Commission’s Demand Forecast and Integrated Energy Policy Report.
The agenda and all other information regarding the workshop is as follows:
August 28, 2015 @ California Public Utilities Commission, 10am-1:15pm
Agenda:  Additional Achievable Energy Efficiency (AAEE)
For additional details including dial-in, webinar, agenda and meeting documents, click: http://demandanalysisworkinggroup.org/?p=2466
For any questions, [please contact Aaron Lu, at aaron.lu@cpuc.ca.gov.

3.  EnergyPro 6.7 Approved For 2013 Nonresidential Performance Compliance

EnergyPro 6.7, using the simplified geometry two-dimensional (2D) option of the CBECC-COM API, is approved as an alternative calculation method for demonstrating performance compliance with the nonresidential provisions of the 2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards.
EnergyPro 6.6 shall continue to be valid for demonstrating compliance with the nonresidential provisions of the 2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards.  All permit applications submitted on or after August 17, 2015, must use either EnergyPro 6.6 or 6.7.   EnergyPro 6.5 will expire and may not be used for permit applications submitted on or after August 17, 2015.
All approved computer compliance programs can be viewed at: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2013standards/2013_computer_prog_list.html.
For more information: http://www.energy.ca.gov/title24/2013standards/2013_computer_prog_list.html#nonres
(If link above doesn't work, please copy entire link into your web browser's URL)

And that is all for this week!  

LEDs and Utility Rebates: Save the Environment AND Cash Money!

The U.S. Green Building Council (or USGBC to yougreen-building aficionados) of Central CA chapter held a seminar at the Unitarian Universalist Church, the first LEED-certified building in Fresno. LED Lighting and PG&E Energy Efficiency Rebates Overview informed attendees of LED lighting benefits and how to work with PG&E to painlessly become more energy efficient daily. Who knew it could be so easy? 

George Burman, an electrical engineer and LEED Administrator for the UU church, began with a discussion of the science behind LED technology. I promise to refrain from getting too technical for those of you who, like me, tried very hard to understand concepts and do well in Physics, but just fail to completely absorb it. *insert ashamed face here*

Save the Environment

Unlike incandescent bulbs that produce light through heat generation, an LED has no filament. LEDs produce light by applying lots of energy to a semiconductor, which is then stimulated by the movement of electrons going from high to low energy levels. This process creates photons, or LIGHT! Voilà! That wasn’t so confusing, was it? The only process that took LED manufacturers some time to develop was “white” LED light. The semiconductors are “doped” with an element, each determining a different monochromatic color. They found that combining red, blue and green LEDs produces “white” light, which explains the bluish or yellowish (red LED + green LED) tinges we see in most white LEDs. 

Photo Source: Christmas Designers
Now for the goods: LEDs have high efficacy (lumens/watt), long life (up to 22 years), small size, and come in millions of colors. They don’t emit infrared radiation and  ̶  here’s the huge plus  ̶  they don’t emit UV radiation either! So, inks and dyes in paintings, photographs, etc. fade at a much slower rate under LED light AND bugs are not attracted to it!

Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to incorporating LEDs into building design including the initial high cost. You also want to consider the poor color rendering index (CRI) of LEDs before replacing your existing lighting system. (The CRI determines how good colors in a painting, your clothes, etc. look under a type of light.) However, I think we can agree that the environmental pros of LED lighting outweigh the few cons, if we find integrating them to be in our budget of course!

Save Cash Money

Not this Cash Money?
Photo Source: Businessinsider.com
Jason Guenther, a Customer Relationship Manager at PG&E, concluded the evening with pinpointing effective solutions to managing one’s energy use. To do this, we first need to understand how we use energy daily. Everything from how long we use a hair dryer in the morning to leaving a toaster plugged in overnight contributes to excessive and unnecessary energy use. PG&E’s Customer Relationship Managers, like Jason, can perform audits or bill analysis. Once PG&E has adequately supplied you with information to understand how you use energy in your home or business, you can develop a facility energy management plan and implement PG&E’s recommendations, which fall under three categories: Permanent Energy Reduction, Savings by Design and Demand Response.

The first step for permanent energy reduction is to get an Energy Assessment. They are available onsite, by phone or you could even set up a DIY assessment on My Energy (who doesn’t like a good DIY project?).  Next, improve the efficiency of how something is used. For example, an office building’s AC system should be monitored. Not only are we generally more productive at a comfortable 77 degrees (see this Cornell study), but we shouldn’t waste energy turning a temporarily unused building into an igloo every night. Another solution is to purchase and install energy efficient products; you will receive rebates for doing so! You can also get money back for purchasing and installing energy efficient products through a customized retrofit (money back is determined case-by-case).

For those in commercial building construction and new building design, check out Savings By Design (SBD) Resources. This program offers incentives for new construction that exceed the latest version of Title 24. Note: DO NOT start construction before PG&E has approved your application. You won’t see those incentives if PG&E hasn’t approved you PRIOR to construction!

Finally, if you have a business, PG&E has Demand Response programs. These offer incentives for reducing a facility’s energy use during times of peak demand (hot day, statewide emergency or power plant failure). Turn things off that don’t NEED to be on during peak demand and receive an incentive? That seems like an easy choice… I do it. So should you!

Wellness Wednesday: BFFs & LEDs

Wellness Wednesday has surprisingly been a challenge for me. I thought it would be easy to make the link between personal wellness and happenings in the clean energy world because, to me, the two are so closely tied together; however, it seems that it is not a widely publicized topic. Good and bad. Good because I feel like we can pave the way in exploring this topic and bad because it requires that extra bit of research on my end! With that being said, I encourage you to send any ‘Wellness Wednesday’ ideas to me at mhoff@pesc.com - I want to make sure I am addressing what interests our readers! In the meantime, you will have to hear a lot about my personal life adventure of buying and greening my home.
Meet my BFF, IKEA. She’s modern. She’s hip. Yep, she’s my Best Frugal Find and she’s into energy efficiency. It’s like we were meant to be. I just wish she lived a tad bit closer but thank goodness for the Internet because we are able to keep in touch!

Okay, yes. I have lost my mind but to be fair I am drafting this blog on a misty, October Friday when all I can think about is organic hot chocolate, curling up next to the fireplace, and listening to Celine Dion (note to editor: do not remove this Celine reference - I like her and I am not ashamed). Note from editor: I am ashamed for you. 

Back to IKEA.  A recent article let me know that my BFF has a goal to sell only LED lamps and bulbs by 2016. Like Oprah, she really wants people to live their best life and feels that saving energy, slicing utility bills, and cutting carbon emissions are a big piece of that pie. IKEA as a company is strongly committed to being a leader when it comes to energy efficiency – check out the page on Climate Change. I too like to lead by example and feel that as a new home owner it is important to do my part in making my space energy efficient to not only put money back in my pocket but to protect our environment for generations to come.

‘If all IKEA customers around the world took out one traditional light bulb and replaced it with a new LED bulb that would save enough energy to power up a city with one million people.’ – James Futcher, IKEA Product Developer

Energy efficiency is easy and can be cheap thanks to no-cost, low-cost fixes and BFFs like IKEA. Just one bulb per household?! Come on, I think we can all do better than that. I know I plan to. Besides cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, LEDs also cut down on exposure to toxic substances because they are mercury free, unlike traditional incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. Sure LEDs still cost more upfront, but thanks to a long life and companies like IKEA LEDs will most definitely save you in the long run.

Light bulb projected lifespan
50,000 hours
10,000 hours
1,200 hours
Watts per bulb (equiv. 60 watts)
Cost per bulb
KWh of electricity used over 
50,000 hours
300 500
Cost of electricity (@ 0.10per KWh)
Bulbs needed for 50k hours of use
Equivalent 50k hours bulb expense
Total cost for 50k hours

Energy Savings over 50,000 hours, assuming 25 bulbs per household:
Total cost for 25 bulbs
Savings to household by switching 
from incandescents

Healthy wallet, healthy home, healthy planet - just another win on this Wellness Wednesday.

photo credit: slimmer_jimmer via photopin cc

Raisin Capital shines under new lights

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

The City has 144 new light emitting diode, or LED, street lights casting a brighter glow 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.

“In these challenging budget times, it is a great assistance to have new street lights provided through a grant that will help the City of Selma reduce its utility bills, as well as provide brighter lighting for residents, said Ken Grey, Mayor

This means significant savings to City coffers through lower utility bills. The energy efficiency retrofits, when complete, will save the City about 66,700 kilowatt hours of power and about $8,500 in energy costs per year. The amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere annually would be roughly equivalent to that produced by 9 passenger vehicles.

And those are big deals in these economic times.

Another big deal is that the entire project isn’t costing the City a dime. The money came 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.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to receive grant funding for this project. Without the funding for purchase and installation of the lighting, we would not have the chance to do this replacement project,” said George Rodriguez, Mayor Pro Tem.

Selma, which is known as the Raisin Capital, 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 & Electric Co., which installed the lights through its LED street light retrofit program.

photo of Selma Raisin Festival by City of Selma

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.

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.

Sanger sees LED street lights installed

The LED street lights are finally being installed.

ABC30 did this story on Sanger's project, which is using its $145,896 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant allocation for a portion of its LED street lights.

Sanger is one of 19 cities in the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership to spend either all or part of its EECBG money on street light retrofits. The projects are finally being installed by more than two years of work to implement the project by the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Pretty exciting stuff.

Expect to see changes in Coalinga, Chowchilla, Corcoran, Dos Palos, Firebaugh, Fowler, Gustine, Kerman, Kingsburg, Mendota, Newman, Oakdale, Parlier, Reedley, San Joaquin, Selma, Shafter and Wasco.

Avenal's also got a project as does Madera County. But there's more. Much more.

The Partnership cities and three counties are also installing energy efficient lights, AC units and pump motors and regulators. When all is said and done this spring, our project should save about 5.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

That's big bucks for cities and counties hit hard by the economic downturn. The money saved goes right back into the general fund, and it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Homeowners can do the same thing. Compact fluorescent lights, SEER 13 or better AC units and insulation can do wonders for energy bills. In addition, there's programmable thermostats and reducing vampire power sucked up by appliances and various electronic products.

Clovis is also installing LED street lights, but the city isn't part of our group.

LED goes Halloween in Riverside (video)

This Riverside, Calif. house takes LED lighting to another level.

Already pushing 1.4 million hits, this 2011 Halloween Light Show, featuring "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO has four singing pumpkin faces, tombstones, hand carved pumpkins, strobes, floods and thousands of lights, according to the YouTube post.

The published information via KJ92508 says, "Most all lights have been changed from incandescent to RGB LED so power consumption is a lot less than previous years. Also DMX added to show. All lights, faces and props are custom made (DIY) by me except for the roof line which are CCRs."

Controlling channels have gone up eight times from the previous year, with 1,144 channels, he says.

Falling solar and LED prices generate green jobs

The cost of clean energy is dropping.

Prices for solar panels are declining, and analysts and industry insiders believe solar energy generation will reach cost parity with fossil fuels in the next five years.

Joining solar's trek to affordability are light emitting diodes, better known as LED lights. For instance, San Joaquin Valley clients of an LED street light replacement program got better rates and will be able to replace more inefficient high-pressure sodium fixtures because of better prices offered by suppliers. And, yes, these are lights that meet federal Buy American requirements.

Big deal, and this has come in just the past 12 months or so.

President Obama singled out LEDs during a visit to a Cree Inc. plant in Durham, N.C. on June 13, 2011. Cree employs 5,000 manufacturing the lights and plans to add a new 400,000-square-foot facility and a second production line that will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"At Cree, you’re putting people back to work in a field that has the potential to create an untold number of new jobs and new businesses right here in America – and that’s clean energy," the president said.

The tour was part of an effort to address the nation's economic slide by meeting with the business leaders on the president's Jobs and Competitiveness Council. Obama got input from business leaders and presented ideas to accelerate job growth.

Obama may be getting beat up on the economy right now, but he staged his photo op in a sector of the economy he believes in. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act under his watch contributed $3.2 billion to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, mostly for the installation of energy efficiency retrofits, the most cost-effective clean energy investment.

Prices for LED lights remain high, but they're coming down significantly. I purchased a new 9-foot umbrella for my backyard outdoor table from a Clovis hardware store for $90. It was a good deal, but I had no idea it came with a solar panel that powers several configurations of LED lights. They're not overly bright but perfect for evening dinners. My son can't get over how cool they are.

Expect more products like that. At this point the LED replacement bulbs rated for exterior use would cost me $40 apiece. So I still use cheap incandescents. But the prices will drop.

That means it's likely manufacturers like Cree will be ramping up.

Phillips Lighting CEO Zia Eftekhar told Martin LaMonica of cnet.com at the May 2011 LightFair industry conference in Philadelphia that the company expects half of its sales will be LED-related by 2015.

And SolarCity received an investment of $280 million from Google, giving it the chops to cover rooftops with solar panels. The money goes to a fund that enables homeowners to lease solar installations or sign power-purchase agreements for the energy produced on their rooftop solar systems.

From my perspective, Obama's on the right track, but he's still got a way to go as far as others are concerned. Republican candidates for president are tearing him up in the press. Even Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Clinton, wants more.

"The President has to have a bold jobs plan, with specifics," Reich wrote in the Christian Science Monitor. "Why not exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year? Why not a new WPA for the long-term unemployed, and a Civilian Conservation Corps for the legions of young jobless Americans?

Bold? Specifics? Heck, clean energy appears to be doing pretty well on its own, with help from assorted rebates and true believers, of course.

The U.S. Solar Institute reported that solar in 2010 employed about 93,500 people and that growth in 2011 is expected to be 26 percent, tacking on another 24,000 jobs. Not huge, but the sector is surpassing steel, grist.org reports.

Expect more in LED lighting, wind and maybe even geothermal. The jury remains out on biofuel.

Photo: President Obama at LED plant flanked by Chuck Swoboda, chairman and CEO of Cree Inc., left, and Matthew Rose, chairman and CEO of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, right. Courtesy White House blog.

Lighting Up Cost Savings Through LED Retrofits

Red Robin is one of my favorite restaurants. I live only a few blocks from the one in Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis. That's probably why I noticed this item - which not only made me hungry for a burger, but illustrates something we at the non-profit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization routinely preach

Energy conservation pays. Big time. Minimal investment can reap maximum rewards as businesses, universities and consumers are discovering.

Red Robin is the latest to cut costs by incorporating energy-efficiency measures into its daily operations. The chain switched to LED lights, which are more expensive but use less electricity and last longer. When utility rebates are included, the payback can be "swift", as the GreenerBuildings story by Leslie Guevarra notes.

More cities and businesses are choosing to go with LED lighting. Our organization is working with several neighboring cities that are using stimulus funds to convert hundreds of street lights to more efficient LED and induction types.

Cutting energy cost and greenhouse gas emissions is a smart move in this economic recession. Budgets are in disarray, and local governments and schools are slashing jobs and payrolls. Reducing their power bills means more money for employees and services.

My power bill during the hot triple-digit San Joaquin Valley summers is the second-largest monthly expense behind my mortgage. Reducing that would give me more money to invest or to stimulate the economy.

Perhaps by going more often to Red Robin.

Photo: flickr.com