Natural Gas Camp : What is Natural Gas and How to Save

SJVCEO was a lucky recipient of an environmental community grant from Southern California Gas Company (SoCal Gas) to host educational assemblies, Natural Gas Camp, with students in the San Joaquin Valley. During the assemblies students are exposed to the basics of natural gas, natural gas vehicles as well as how to conserve natural gas.

Yesterday SJVCEO held its first ever gas camp at Meadow Lane Elementary in Lemoore, CA. Students from three sixth grade classes rotated to different stations to learn about natural gas. During the 1.5 hour assembly students had hands on experience with gas meters, advanced gas meters and a CNG street sweeper from the City of Lemoore. Students were asked questions during each session and three lucky students were crowned Natural Gas Camp Champs and went home with Nest Thermostats. Thanks to Proteus Inc. the installation of the Nest thermostats to each household is at no cost. Each student was also given bags to take home that contained ways to save at home as well as fun giveaways from SoCal Gas and the City of Lemoore. 

Seeing a younger generation excited about natural gas and learning about what the future holds for the commodity was exciting! SJVCEO and all involved were so surprised that students were so aware of sustainability efforts with natural gas.

We cant thank all of partners enough for all of the help making this first Natural Gas Camp a success!


Is your infrastructure in need of a tune-up?

If you answered yes to the above question, then let us introduce you to the Municipal Energy Tune Up (METU) Program.

METU offers energy efficiency project assistance from “cradle to grave” to all central valley local governments.

  • Energy Benchmarking measures energy usage at each of your sites to identify opportunities for energy and money savings.
  • Readiness Reports to outline the steps needed to get the project done and information to get projects approved.
  • Advanced Project Assistance should your staff lack the time to manage the project to completion.

These services are made possible with funding from PG&E and completely free of charge to you. Don’t have the budget for energy efficiency projects? We can help with that too!

Connect with us today!
T: (877) 748-0841

Check out our new website!

What Has SJVCEO Been up to in December

We hope everyone had a happy holiday and a safe new years. Hopefully everyone was able to enjoy a few days at home with family and friends. Here at SJVCEO we cant believe that we are rolling into 2017 already...where did the year go. 2016 went so quickly and our team accomplished many feats and cant wait to see what the new year holds. In the final month of the year our team was busy at work tying up loose ends before heading into 2017.

For the VIEW Partnership we are happy to announce that the County of Kings has just passed its energy action plan which allows them to move up within the SoCal Edison ELP model. We are also happy to announce that the partnership will be working with the NOAA on their Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador program. The partnership will bring the message of weather readiness as well as how to build resilient communities to our partner communities. With many of the partnerships projects completed for 2016 our team began the planning process for our annual awards luncheon. At our annual luncheon we honor our partners that have moved up in the ELP model as well as made large efficiency gains. We like to take this time after the holidays to show appreciation for our partners as well as elected officials that have supported the partnerships efforts. We look forward to the luncheon as well as what 2017 brings for our VIEW partners.

With our HDR Partnership we are looking ahead to 2017 and getting together a plan to conquer energy savings. A few of our partners are looking into streetlight conversions and or upgrades. Many of the streetlights that are in existence house high pressure sodium lights. The name may not sound familiar but in essence they are the lights that provide a nice orange glow. We will report back energy projects and energy savings once they come in. We are also very excited to be holding our inaugural recognition luncheon in February. We cant wait to honor our energy partners as well as meet a few elected officials from the area.

Our METU Program has been busy at work over the last month. Our project analyst met with 4 out of the 8 cities involved in the Fresno County region.  The program has also begun to benchmark for the cities of Kerman, Selma and Firebaugh and Municipal Readiness Reports are in the works.  We have completed paperwork for the City of San Joaquin as they have expressed interest to get started.  Cities within Kern County are still on the METU radar.  Outreach has continued into the month of December and and connected with the City of Wasco. We are still working with the City of Avenal and it is on track for direct installation projects at the beginning of the new year.We are also happy to say that our website will be launching in the next week or so. We will be completing an official roll out as soon as it is complete. So stay tuned!

And finally, over the last month SJVCEO was named one of the recipients of the Wonderful Communities Grant in the City of Avenal. Our team will be working with the city over the next year on improving energy efficiency for residents and homeowners. We area very excited to begin the project and report back some of our successes!

That is all for this month!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up To in May

First off we hope that everyone had a safe and wonderful Memorial Day. The SJVCEO team, like many, enjoyed an additional day off for the holiday before coming back to work full force on energy saving projects.

Over the last month the team and our energy champion partners have been working to finish up projects that have been in the pipeline as well as compiling lists of new projects that are being outlined in capital improvement project listings. During the summer months we use our time to start laying out plans of attack for new energy projects as well as using it as planning time for upcoming community outreach events.

For the VIEW Partnership many of our energy champion partners are busy working away on budgets for the their cities and counties. So during the summer we focus on back end planning. Our team works to make sure that all information is current and all projects numbers are correct. During this time we also like to touch base with our SCE cities/counties on how they are progressing towards their next level on the Energy Leader Partnership model. We want to make sure that we are informing the partners on what items ca be accomplished with the help of their Edison reps.

As mentioned before, during the summer months the partnership starts looking toward the fall community outreach events. A saying in our office is," it is never too early to start planning." We will be holding many of our events in late September into October. Make sure to stay up to date on events that are listed on the partnerships website. One of the exciting community pieces that the partnership is working on is with the City of Avenal. The partnership was given a mini grant from PG&E to work with one of our deserving cities on energy efficiency projects as well as community outreach. Discussions have just begun with the city so we will make sure to keep you posted as things develop.

With our HD Regional Partnership our partners are very excited about spreading the word on the Direct Install Program from Southern California Edison. The partnership will be presenting at two local chamber events in June regarding the program. Along with the promotion of Direct Install we are happy to announce that with the help of our energy champion partners the partnership has reached its energy saving goal for the year already!

For the METU Program our SJVCEO staff has begun to benchmark the City of Parlier as well as the City of Bakersfield. Once the city facilities are benchmarked our team will put together a readiness report of projects that have the most potential for savings. We look forward to sharing some of our success stories with everyone.

Some of our other items that been taking place over the last month are our staff participating in the Clean Energy Finance Advisory Council (CEFAC) coordination meetings as well as beginning to plan for a Central Valley September event. Our staff also attended a Onsite Greywater Recycling Workshop.

Stay Tuned For Next Month's Update!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to in April

As we wave goodbye to April we  slowly embark into summer and those hot temperatures that are around the corner...which no one is looking forward to. With the beginning of summer and rising temps the SJVCEO team is blazing a trail into its energy saving goals for all three of its areas in 2016.

With the VIEW Partnership the SJVCEO team is working away on energy projects. With organizational change ups with the partnerships IOU partners projects are now beginning to trickle in. A few of the city and county partners in VIEW are taking advantage of the Savings by Design program that the state has to offer. The Savings by Design program was created for building owners to take a whole building or systems approach to energy savings. Instead of completing individual energy efficiency projects owners would take a look with the design team to see what systems or design tweaks the whole building can benefit from. This program is available to customers within California as it is funded by all six IOU's within the state. We are excited to see what savings and projects come out of the Savings by Design collaboration. The VIEW Partnership also was busy with the City of Visalia's Earth Day Event. The partnership always enjoys attending the event to spread the word of energy efficiency and conservation. This year's event was filled with plenty of sunshine and had a great turn out!

Now changing gears to SJVCEO's HDR Partnership. All of our energy partners in the high desert have been hard at work completing well and other large energy saving projects. With the partnership we are happy to now say we are out and about with the message of the energy partnership. Over the last month and a half we have met with most of the Chambers of Commerce in the high desert region and have been welcomed with open arms. We are happy to be sharing information and programs with the chambers in the area, since many of the businesses can benefit.

For our METU program that partners with PG&E we are happy to say that we are full steam ahead on benchmarking and projects. One of our staff members just completed a walk through energy assessment of five facilities within the City of Kingsburg. Our staff member is now crunching the numbers and information to give a full written report about potential projects and energy savings. We will keep you updated on what projects take place.

While we are not busy doing energy assessments and working on energy projects our team participates in a few different advisory councils and organizations. Just this last month one of our staff who works with the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Cluster helped with an annual clean energy summit. The summit was a real success and our staff was able to see the great energy work that is happening within the valley. Another one of our staff is working with the Clean Energy Financing Advisory Council. The objective of the council is bring information on new energy efficiency financing opportunities to California. In April the council held a webinar on financing energy storage as well as the CHEEF REEL (Residential Energy Efficiency Loan program) pilot roll-out with Valley Oak Credit Union. A lot of exciting things are happening in the valley as well as in the state so make sure you sty tuned to our blog for updates!

That is all for this month!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up To in March

Spring has sprung here at SJVCEO and we seem to have become busier than the Easter Bunny on Easter. We continue to hop from one opportunity to the next with all our ventures. We are excited to see how the year progresses with energy savings as well as other opportunities. 
First we will start with a few exciting items that are happening within SJVCEO that do not directly involve our partnerships. The first and very exciting item was SJVCEO was awarded a grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for Biodico Zero Net Energy Farm. The grant will pilot innovative planning, permitting and financing approaches to improve the business case for Advanced Energy Communities (AEC) using Net Energy Meter Aggregation (NEMA) to achieve Zero Net Energy Farms (ZNEF). Our wonderful team member, Sarah Farell, put in a lot of time and effort into completing the grant application, congratulations Sarah! We look forward to updating you on the progress of the grant. Another one of SJVCEO's team members, Jarred Olsen, is working with the Center for Sustainable Energy on their Clean Energy Financing Advisory Council. The council will be having upcoming training's and webinar's that are available to the public on clean energy financing options as well as pilot programs. If you are interested in learning how to finance energy storage then the upcoming training on April 12th is just for you! 
As for the VIEW partnership our team and energy partners have been working away on collecting energy savings. Many partners are lining up projects for the coming months with both PG&E and SoCal Edison. SJVCEO's project analyst finalized incentive paperwork for both the City Hanford as well as the City of Lindsay. We are now just awaiting approval and then both cities be receiving that exciting incentive check! Also, in the last VIEW partners meeting there was some discussion over what is covered for incentive for IOU's. Here at SJVCEO we are here to help guide you through that type of information. Please feel free to contact one of our staff if you have any questions. We have included a few tidbits of incentives information for those SoCal Edison cities who may be interested.  If you have diesel-powered generators at any site and are interested in reducing your generators stand by energy consumption, and If you have an open floorplan building that is 10,000 square feet or larger (eg: warehouses, offices with perimeter open work areas), contact Jarred Olsen at (559) 490-1810 or for more information.
With the HD Regional Partnership we are proud to announce that we have launched our website, We hope the website captures the true beauty of the high desert of California. On the website we have information regarding the partner cities/towns as well as how homeowners, renters and businesses can save energy and money. We hope that the website becomes a useful tool for those that live in the area. The partnership is also spreading the word of the upcoming direct install program through SoCal Edison. We will be stopping into the local chambers and organizations with information on how businesses can sign up for the program.
And last but not least we have the METU program that has continued to have much success in the Fresno County region. Our project analyst will be meeting with the City of Kingsburg again to complete a walk through audit of five city owned buildings to see what potential savings may be hiding. We hope that we will have a few success stories out of the walk through audit. We will make sure to share those with you as well.

That's all for this month. Make sure to stay tuned for our April update!

Why The Climate Leadership Conference is Important

I got to represent the SJVCEO at the Climate Leadership Conference (CLC) in Seattle this month. The CLC brings a wide group of business leaders, government staff and officials, academics, and non-profit representatives together to discuss policies, innovations and solutions for mitigating climate change.

This particular CLC was important. Why? Because so much happened in the last year: Pope Francis’s second Encyclical not only widened the audience for climate change messages, but was a call to action for advocacy for religious leaders; the Paris climate talks, or COP21, negotiated the Paris Agreement, an agreement among nearly 200 nations to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels; President Obama’s Clean Power Plan outlined standards for power plants and goals for the United States to cut carbon emissions as well as setting a precedent for other nations to address climate change.
The CLC increased my understanding of various efforts to address carbon emissions reductions, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting, the importance of transparency and accountability, and the policy and financing opportunities all types of institutions can benefit from and support. However, it also addressed how far we still have to go in the fight against climate change.
I had a few big takeaways from this conference. Firstly, a lot is riding on this November’s presidential election, and even though more and more Americans believe climate change is real, fewer believe the government should do something to combat it. Second, despite the recent Supreme Court block on the Clean Power Plan, CLC attendees were extremely hopeful that not only would this block not last, but that a national climate action plan would be passed and implemented relatively soon.
These may seem like combating statements, but I heard many points made this week assuring that a national act on climate may not be unreachable. We just need to make sure our message reaches wide audiences and the right audiences.
Unfortunately, many messages that push for an act on climate are both very negative and too overarching to truly comprehend: “natural disasters will become more frequent and more catastrophic”; “sea levels will rise to eventually displace entire communities”; “strains on resources will threaten homeland security.” While all of these points are extremely valid and must be kept in mind, throwing these statements at people who either don’t believe in climate change and the science behind it or don’t care enough to do anything will not decrease the number of skeptics, deniers and complacent bystanders. Fear won’t change anyone’s mind and science may not either. You need to meet your audience where they are.

Concentrating on messages of improving public health, economic solutions and ways to save money, and policies with tangible benefits are far more effective. CLC speaker Andy Hoffman, author of How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate and Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, maintains that the climate debate has become a fight for victory over contrasting, deeply entrenched worldviews rather than CO2 emissions, air quality or climate modeling. Having an inspiring and civil discussion over this issue never happens anymore because each side looks for statements that support their previously determined ideas and heartily rejects any statement that contradicts or diminishes them. He says, “cultural identity can overcome scientific reasoning. It doesn’t mean we’re stupid, but our emotions kick in really quick.”
What clouds this debate is high economic and ideological stakes. None of us knows everything about everything and so we all make decisions based on what the communities we trust tell us. In order to have a true discussion and not a violent discourse, we need to build trust with the “other side”. You don’t want your audience to feel small or feel judged. So, how do we build that trust and truly engage our audience?
Andy outlined three paths forward:
1.  Optimistic path Technology gets developed so neither lifestyles nor values are compromised and no one has to change what they do or how they do it.
2.  Pessimistic path Each side tries to change the worldviews of the other and we talk past and demonize each other.
3.   Consensus based path This best path encourages people to move past positions and concentrate on interests.
The consensus-based path requires brokers to come forward so that an audience is hearing messages from those they trust. Messengers must understand the power of language and choose messages that are personally accessible by their audience. Messengers must acknowledge and identify a commonly desired future, presenting tangible and positive solutions that preserve the “American way of life”.
Once we can have discussions about our commonly desired futures, we can discuss how to efficiently and effectively get there. Once we engage both horizontally and vertically, we can frame questions and issues in each audience’s expertise and language, making any lack of knowledge or interest in climate science irrelevant. We can leave the science to the scientists. We can leave entrenched opinions behind. We can start thinking about how to be cost effective, improve the public health of communities, create preventative measures rather than reactionary measures, build resilient communities, and turn innovation and storytelling into action.
Thank you, CLC, for inspiring action and making me optimistic about the future. We may have a long way to go, but we certainly have a better understanding of what it will take to get there and a myriad of examples of companies, governments, schools, and non-profits already acting and fighting the good fight.

What Has SJVCEO Been Up To In February

Over the past month the SJVCEO team seems to become busier and busier with the amount of energy projects that are making their way through the pipelines. But do not get us wrong we are not complaining we fully enjoy it!
With spring right around the corner the VIEW Partnership is trying out a new way of doing its community outreach events for its 2016. This year the partnership is planning on having outreach events out in Kettleman City as well as London. We are planning to have these events around the time of Earth Day in April. The partnership will also be attending the Visalia Earth Day Celebration on April 23rd make sure to check out details on it today. Outside of our outreach events we have been very busy with project administration and implementation. With the beginning of a new program cycle starting up projects are beginning to slowly role in. Also with the new program cycle there are a few changes in the direct install programs for the utilities. If you are unfamiliar with direct install let me diverge and touch upon the program for a moment. Direct install is where commercial businesses and or municipalities can have energy upgrades on certain measures outlined by each utility for either no-cost or low cost copay's. If you are interested in participating make sure you touch base with your respective utility. Once we have more information on the exciting numbers for projects starting in 2016 we will make sure to share them.
As for our MUNI program; it continues to take off like wildfire. Our team has been working away on continuing to benchmark cities within Fresno County. The City of Kingsburg is the latest city to have all of its municipal accounts benchmarked. With benchmarking complete the city was presented with the data and noticed that they have potential for lighting upgrades. The city is now planning to move forward with those lighting projects during 2016. We look forward to reporting more of the great work that is happening with the MUNI program. 
Within the HDR Partnership there are a lot of exciting things on the horizon. The cities and towns within the partnership are bringing in projects left and right! On top of that the group is preparing a community outreach push with SoCal Edison's direct install. A contractor partnering with Edison will be in the area during the months of May to August. Small and medium sized businesses within the area can take advantage of no cost or low cost energy improvements that will help them save. So if you reside within the high desert area make sure to keep your eyes peeled for mailers and chamber announcements with more information.

That is all for this months update! Keep your eyes peeled for next months update!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to In January

As the SJVCEO team rings in the New Year our team is already making leaps and bounds. As we continue to make leaps and bounds our city and county partners reap the rewards. Many of our partners have moved up tier levels in the Edison Energy Leader Partnership (ELP) model and or have their first ever energy action plans. We here at SJVCEO call those large feats. In this months update you may also notice a new addition of our High Desert Regional (HDR) partnership updates. SJVCEO has been working with the greater high desert region since October, but we are just now digging in and have some exciting updates.
For the VIEW Partnership our team and partners have stayed very busy. Over the course of the last month our team has been able to get one of our partners, the City of Farmersville, to gold level within the Edison ELP model. We have also been working with the County of Kings on getting together an energy action plan and community outreach item completed to move up to the high ranking standards of gold. With the focus of the partnership being on energy savings we continue to work hand in hand with our partners on equipment upgrades. During the month of January our team worked with the City of Hanford to process rebates for their new plug load occupancy sensors. If you are not familiar with what plug load occupancy sensors are they are devices that turn off auxiliary devices in a cubicle, like monitors, cell phone chargers, and heaters when nobody is occupying the cubicle. The energy saved was about 10 California homes’ worth! 
As mentioned the new addition of the HDR Partnership has brought with it a lot of exciting work. Our team is working with the City of Adelanto, the Town of Apple Valley, the City of Barstow, the City of Hesperia and the City of Victorville. Many reading this post might not be familiar with the areas, but they are hidden gems within the California high desert. Our team has jumped right in and started work on energy action plans for all of the partners. With all of the work that our team is doing combined with the energy work of the partners there will be a lot of upward movement in the SCE ELP here very soon.
As for the METU program the savings just keep coming in. Our project analyst who is tasked with working with cities in the area has done a great job racking up the savings. His newest endeavor is working with the City of Kerman. To date he has benchmarked their accounts and will start diving into the data to see where the city has potential savings. 
We hope that you stay tuned for next months update, since we are sure that there will be much more exciting news to report!

See What SJVCEO Has Been Up to in November

We hope that everyone had a safe and indulging Thanksgiving this year. SJVCEO was able to have a few days off and enjoy a little downtime and hope that you were able to do the same.Now we are back to work and cranking out the energy projects.
For the VIEW Partnership the month of November included a lot of travel. The partnership attended the PG&E as well as the SCE and SCG all partners meetings. These meetings took place in San Francisco as well as Los Angeles. We were able to hear all of the amazing work that partners all over California are doing as well as the new outcomes from each utility. Being able to see our fellow energy partners at least once a year is nice. We are able to take pointers from each other as well as compare notes. The partnership has also been working hard processing incentives to the tune of 450,000kWh savings as well as getting projects in the pipeline for the beginning of 2016.
SJVCEO's municipal energy tune up program has been busy at work as well. After several months of benchmarking, we finally met with the County of Kern to discuss our findings. We’re using the benchmarking information to dig down deeper to find savings.  The county has also saved 169,000 kWh in exterior lighting by switching to LED. Exterior lighting is an easy way for municipalities to get a quick payback as lights typically stay on for 4,100 hours per year.  The maintenance savings are also huge too, as LED lights can last more than 50,000 hours, or over 12 years!  As METU keeps raking up the savings we will keep you in the loop.
And last but not least SJVCEO participated in the Electric Vehicle Partnership meeting that took place in November at the Fresno Airport. This event was a big success and even included a ride-and-drive component. We hope that this leads to a wider adoption of electric vehicles in the Central Valley.

Stay Tuned for Next Months Update! 

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to in October?

SJVCEO hopes that everyone had a safe and fun Halloween this year. We hope that everyone was able to avoid many of the energy vampires that occur in the home during this spooky month. The SJVCEO staff has been very busy helping all of our partners with steering clear of those vampires. We have been busy with our south valley partners as well as our north valley partners. 
For our south valley partners the VIEW Partnership has been very busy with continuing to benchmarking energy usage for all buildings. The Partnership is also very happy to announce that the City of Visalia achieved gold tier status in the energy leader partnership (ELP) with Southern California Edison. We cannot wait to announce our other partners that achieve this status in the coming months. Achieving the gold status in the ELP model is a very large achievement. For a partner to achieve this status they must lower their energy usage, complete energy awareness outreach as well as approving an energy action plan. To all of our partners; continue the great work! The Partnership was also on the road for the Local Government Commissions Central California meeting that happened in Paso Robles. This was a great event that showed how local government partnerships are doing more with less. Doing more with less was the main theme for the meeting. It was also great to get together with the IOU partners and other peers to check in and hear everyone's progress.
As for our north valley partners the municipal energy tune up (METU) program they are continuing to be benchmarked with energy projects in sight. Our METU team has also been on the road for much of the month of October going to training's on new emerging technology. The first training was on programmable logic controllers (PLCs). These items are most often used in industrial, manufacturing and wastewater treatment applications, and can improve operations considerably by automating processes normally done by hand or to allow for another point of data collection to determine if a process is working effectively and efficiently. The second training was on designing thermal energy storage (TES). TES tanks work as a battery for your air conditioning by “charging” a large tank by creating ice at night, when there’s low or no demand charges, and “discharging” it in the daytime so chiller(s) don’t have to run during the daytime.  The technology first debuted in the 1980s, was fraught with problems, but is now matured to the point that utility incentives for the technology are at a whopping $875 per kW permanently shifted.  In some instances, especially when designing new buildings, installing thermal energy storage can be a lower first cost than just using nothing but chillers.
As you can see SJVCEO has been busy during the past month. We are always happy to stay busy when it comes to saving our partners and communities energy sand money.

Stay Tuned for Next Months Update!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to in September?

The SJVCEO team is happy to officially be in the fall season and be done with the 100+ degree weather here in the valley. With entering into fall our team is also entering into our busy season. Both the VIEW Partnership and Municipal Energy Tune Up (METU) teams have been hard at work to complete projects before the end of the year. 
For the VIEW Partnership our team has been working away on the planning and logistics of the upcoming energy awareness month community events. This year the Partnership is expanding the number of events being held to 6! We are very excited to continue to grow our community outreach events and become more involved in our areas. This year the Partnership will be out in Home Garden, Hardwick, Farmersville, Monson-Sultana and Allensworth areas. If you happen to be in the areas listed come out and enjoy some fun with the family and learn how to save energy. Check out our community outreach calendar to see when these events will be taking place.
As for our METU team, sadly we have shrunk in size due to the loss of two of our Civic Spark members. The Civic Spark members finished their project term with SJVCEO in mid-September. We wish them much success as they continue on their career paths. When it comes to the work of METU several projects that we have assisted with have finally come to fruition and have secured energy savings and plenty of rebates to go along with it!
Four pumps were retrofitted in Kern County to make them more efficient, saving a total of over 215,000 kWh and netting a municipality a rebate check of over $27,000!  The incentives were provided by PG&E, through a third party program called the Advanced Pumping Efficiency Program (APEP), administered by CSU Fresno’s Center for Irrigation Technology.If you own a pump, and are planning on lowering your pump deeper into the ground, get a pump test first.  A simple $200 test (which can be completely subsidized by APEP) may be all it takes to help you offset the cost of lowering the pump with reduced operational costs.  And a pretty nice rebate check too.
Make sure to stay in touch by signing up for our news and program updates here on our blog.

Check in next month to see what we were up to in October!

What Has SJVCEO Been Up to in August

As the valley temperatures keep rising so does the ambition of the SJVCEO staff. Our very ambitious staff has been very busy with new energy projects as well as being on the road for training's. We all truly enjoy working toward a common goal; making the San Joaquin Valley a better place for all that live or play here. 
The organizations VIEW partnership has been busy working with utility and municipal partners on energy projects. Most of the partner cities and counties that the partnership works with have been benchmarked to date and are eyeing energy opportunities in their portfolios.  Many projects that are high on the priority list are centering around well work and upgrades at this time due to the extreme drought within the Central Valley. No matter the project our staff here at SJVCEO enjoys seeing the savings roll in for our partners. 
Our municipal energy tune up (METU) program is rolling right along and catching savings along the way. The METU analysts are close to being done benchmarking the county of Kern's accounts, which is a pretty big feat since there are over 400 accounts and each account has over 5 years of energy data. Once all accounts are benchmarked our staff will be meeting with county personnel to pinpoint where there are saving opportunities. Two of the cities our staff has worked with are in the process of planning to perform energy efficiency upgrades on their waste water treatment plants. Waste water treatment plants are responsible for about 35% of a municipalities energy budget which is equal to about 10% of a city's budget we are excited to see the savings outcome of the upgrades. 
SJVCEO has also been working on other things outside of both METU and the VIEW Partnership. Some of our staff has been participating in the Joint Workshop on implementation of the EPIC program. The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program is funding for research and development of technology and deployment of new energy solutions. 
We would also like to give a big thank you to our two wonderful CivicSpark members  Tommy Ta and Zenia Montero. These two CivicSpark members have been a big help on the METU program and will finish up their terms in mid September. They have been working very hard on reducing energy consumption for municipalities in the San Joaquin Valley. We wish them all the best on their many adventures in the energy field!
Also one more friendly reminder that National Drive Electric Week is in early September. Click Here to find events around you!

Stay Tuned for Our Update Next Month!

SJVCEO Monthly Update - What Have We Been Up To?

Over the past month our new SJVCEO team has been on the move and pushing forward! Our team members have been learning the new technologies our utility partners are rolling out, gearing up for community events as well as moving forward with some of our grant extensions.

Our team has completed the Energy Insight training with one of our utility partners; PG&E. Energy Insight will allow our team members to have a clear picture of where our energy efficiency projects stand with our outside contractors and PG&E. This database allows our members to follow projects from cradle to grave to make sure our customers are fully satisfied.

With October being energy awareness month we are gearing up for our community outreach events. These community outreach events allow the SJVCEO team to get out into the community and show how easy and affordable it is to make energy efficiency updates. We hope you will stay tuned to the SJVCEO website as well as social media sites, twitter and facebook, for upcoming events.

SJVCEO along with the other SJV Action Team Members – Fresno State Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED), San Joaquin Valley Clean Cities Coalition (SJVCCC), San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD), and the Kern Community College District (KCCD) – for the Workforce Investment Board Regional Industry Clusters of Opportunity (WIB RICO) grant have received an extension of funding to continue supporting and expanding the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology (ARFVT) industry in the Valley. We have created two new Valley-based Partnerships to support this effort; the CNG Partnership and EV Partnership have gained interest from dealerships, fueling and charging station manufacturers and deployment, automotive repair establishments, school districts, etc. Our goal is to clean up the Valley’s air, cut down on GHG emissions from transportation, build a more extensive and sustainable network of alternative fueling stations, and educate the Valley’s residents about the importance and benefits of owning and/or using a cleaner vehicle.

SJVCEO is conducting preliminary research on developing a Cool Roof Policy in the Valley. The Valley suffers from Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, which contributes to poorer air quality, quality of life, life expectancy, and a higher demand for cooling capabilities. Introducing a Cool Roof Ordinance could decrease cooling costs in the summer, improve air quality and decrease number of health issues related to excessive heat. In addition, a Cool Roof Ordinance could include measures such as cool playgrounds and parking lots, which would extend people’s abilities to stay outside and enjoy outdoor activities thus improving their quality of life in the Valley.
Lastly, SJVCEO is continuously developing a project tracking database. This database will provide a centralized location of data from multiple sources including Energy Star Portfolio Manager and the Utilities Program Management. Current plans of the database will be ready to share at the Local Government Commission for Central California in Paso Robles on October 10th.

Stay tuned for next month’s update on what the SJVCEO team has been up to!

Trial Blogs

As previously mentioned, we are hiring.  Specifically we are hiring for an energy and grants project manager. It's not Mike's soon-to-be old job, but it's close.  In addition to the grant funded projects the position will also include oversight of our social media platform, which includes our blog, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.  The linchpin being our blog.  It is important to have a feel of a candidate's writing style and research ability.  Therefore, we have asked our potential future coworkers to complete a trial assignment for the blog.

The top candidates will be given an assignment prepare a trial post for one of five topics.  The posts will be between 500-750 words and include image(s).  *Right now I have to admit I appropriated this concept from my favorite blogger, Belle over at Capitol Hill Style.  She took a similar approach with potential interns and I loved the process so much I decided to use it!* Our existing blog has a definite 'voice' and there is no expectation that it will be replicated.  My hope is to see individual style.  Once we have all the submissions--and permission of the authors--I will post their work for you all to read.

I think you'll be pleased, as I know our whole team has been so far.  Even Mike.  And if Mike likes it, well it's either totally obscure or really, really good.

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,, 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.  

California breaks free from from fossil fuels, gradually

California is breaking free of its fossil-fuel addiction.

That's according to Next 10's "2012 California Green Innovation Index." The phrasing was "gradually transitioning."

The report, which looks at the previous year's data, says the Sunshine State surpassed 1,000 megawatts of solar energy capacity, attracted $3.5 billion in cleantech investment in 2011 and accrued 910 green technology patents for a first-in-the-nation performance.

Findings in the 75-page report sound positively radiant, especially in light of news that subsidies like those provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are disappearing, economic and international pressures continue and many renewable energy companies are struggling to survive.

California is unique

But F. Noel Perry, Next 10 founder, offers no apologies. In his prelude, he says, "California’s ability to foster and develop new ideas, markets and technology is unique." He says the purpose of the Index "is to document the impacts of California’s efforts to transition to a low carbon economy in order to understand what works and what doesn’t in driving innovation."

Fair enough.

However, the pace of change has been sluggish and unable to transform much of the economic landscape in what is arguably the best region for solar and biofuel in the state -- the San Joaquin Valley. More than two years ago, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, a nonprofit that employs myself and three others, launched into a program to help cities and counties in the Valley administer highly restrictive and complex stimulus grants.

Striding forward, slowly

The goal of federally funded energy efficiency nearly has been attained but not without huge investment of time and energy. Many dubbed the ARRA grants the most difficult they had encountered. Our partnership with the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District has spent more than half of a combined total of more than $4 million in grants and expects to save about 5.4 million kilowatt hours of energy. At 12.7 cents per kWh, that's a reduction of $685,800 on the region's utility bills.

Acrocc the state, people were put to work. Energy efficient lights, pumps and air conditioning units were installed.

Yet, energy efficiency is but one component of the clean energy push. Granted, it's necessary before installing renewable energy systems like solar. Still, those of us in the Valley haven't seen much of the effects from what we know is a big behind-the-scenes effort to get more solar capacity into the region. Should that break loose, jobs would follow.

Dashboard indicators
The Index says "dashboard indicators" point to growth. It lists declines in total emissions and per capita emissions and a rise in energy productivity as the result of energy efficiency measures. It says venture capital investment in clean technology remains strong despite the global financial crisis and that new value continues to be created.

Most of that investment has gone to Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area. The patents look promising. There's an increase in battery technology, hybrid and electric systems technology and solar technology.

New solar in California amounted to more than 300,000 kilowatts capacity in 2011, and employment in the sector is approaching 35,000 for the state. "Despite the Solyndra bankruptcy, California’s solar industry is a hotbed within the state’s renewable energy sector," the report says.

Big deals in the works

Deals highlighted include that between Rabobank and SolarCity. The pair have teamed up to finance more than 30 commercial solar projects in California worth $42.5 million. Warren Buffett also got a mention. In December, he purchased Topaz Solar Farm in San Luis Obispo County. When completed, the 550-megawatt solar farm will be one of the world's largest, generating enough energy for 160,000 homes.

SolarCity was lauded for three additional projects. The San Mateo company is working with Google in a $280 million partnership to build more residential solar projects across the country. It's working with Wal-Mart to bring solar energy to 75 percent of Wal-Mart’s California locations. And it's got a five-year, $1 billion plan to put rooftop solar on up to 120,000 U.S. military housing units.

Big hurdles remain

Sounds good. But many of us are looking for a serious break in the status quo. While renewables are nearing parity with fossil fuels, they have serious issues to work through. For homeowners, the up-front price remains difficult to stomach, and power-purchase agreements, in which somebody else retains ownership of the system, only shave a few percentage points off the average bill.

On a commercial scale, utilities have to work renewable start-stop energy into the grid by upgrading back-up systems and integrating new energy-regulating technologies. It's not a simple marriage.

Change is coming. Hughson Nut, a leading processor of almonds and nut products, just added solar and energy efficiency measures and says it's great. Expect more to follow.

In the meantime, I'm holding out for that gradual transition becoming a little more obvious.

Good Resource: Database of University Sustainability Programs

I was poking around the Internet today and stumbled upon this database from the National Wildlife Federation of sustainability programs at universities throughout the nation.

It is fascinating, and potentially a good resource for instructors, students and administrators. Enjoy!

Partnership's Efforts Help Cut Energy Use In Valley

The San Joaquin Valley isn't the hottest place in California, but it's close. The I-think-I'm-going-to-spontaneously combust summer temperatures often reach triple digits. As a result, the region's power bills and energy consumption are often among the highest in the state.

But, an interesting thing has happened since the nonprofit San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, which developed out of the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, was formed in 2007. Electricity use in the Valley dropped 11 percent between 2007 and 2009, which contrasted with a 4.5 percent dip statewide, according to the Partnership's 2010-11 report.

Energy efficiency is a big part of SJVCEO's mission. It partners with local governments and utilities to help implement programs designed to slash energy consumption, thus saving residents and local government money in this era of austerity and tight budgets. The programs also lead to smaller carbon footprints at a time when environmental issues are rising to the fore.

The SJVCEO's Valley Innovative Energy Watch (VIEW) partnership with Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company and eight local governments in the South Valley has led to substantial energy savings in those communities. The projected savings from this partnership is expected to exceed 4 million kWh.

The organization also is helping implement the Clean Energy Partnership, an ambitious program that also includes the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, two Investor Owned Utilities, and 36 local governments. The goal is to replace inefficient equipment in publicly-owned buildings from Stanislaus to Kern counties.

In addition, SJVCEO promotes and conducts outreach for the City of Fresno's Home Energy Tune-Up program, which is available to residents of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. The initiative is funded by a federal grant in collaboration with the state's Energy Upgrade California Program, and enables property owners to replace lighting, increase insulation or make other improvements that will significantly lower their power bills.

The cost of the upgrades is usually recouped in a few years through energy savings. The great thing is that those savings continue, which gives those families more money to invest or use for other purposes. It also helps offset any utility rate increases.

The SJVCEO expects energy usage to continue to decline as the existing programs mature and as more initiatives come on line. The organization will soon begin a grant-funded effort to help cities "benchmark" energy consumption and prepare energy action plans.

Energy efficiency has been described as the "low-hanging fruit" of the clean-energy movement, so it makes sense for an organization based in one of the state's most energy-intensive areas to start picking it.

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.