Sandy Nax

Solar And Water: A Growing Combination

*Editor's Note: I was cleaning out the SJVCEO blog archives last week and came across this draft post authored by the one and only Sandy Nax!  Going by the date of the draft I can only figure that Sandy had worked on this prior to his departure from SJVCEO in May 2012 and never had a chance to hit the 'publish' button. So, Sandy I hope you don't mind our using your words one more time!  -CBK

Many people equate solar power with rooftops, and that's true. More property owners - commercial and residential - are installing solar panels over their heads to cut power bills and carbon footprint. Check out what Toys 'R' Us is doing in New Jersey.

But solar energy is popping up all over the place. In backpacks. With the military in Afghanistan. On parking structures and as window coverings. And, increasingly, on or around water.

Solar is appearing at wastewater treatment plants, vineyard irrigation ponds and in settling ponds at gravel mines. There is even research into getting solar power from the ocean.

This New York Times story, which I read in the San Jose Mercury News, notes that solar panels are sitting atop pontoons at Far Niente in Wine Country. It quotes a winery official saying that vineyards are expensive real estate, and placing a solar array on the pond means no vines are removed.

Solar energy systems also are gaining a following at wastewater treatment plants here in the San Joaquin Valley, where power bills run high in the blazing summer.

The cities of Tulare and Madera use solar at their plants. Learn more about those projects here and here. Water transfer is expensive, and solar can help cut costs. We keep hearing that more cities are considering following suit. This Sign on San Diego story has more on how solar works at such plants.

Opportunities for solar will become even greater as technology improves, costs decrease and it becomes more mainstream. Water-related solar increases those possibilities even more.

Sandy's now in Sacramento working for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and still managing to write...a lot.  Seriously, Google it! 

Photo of solar on pond at Far Niente Winery by

The State of Our Blog

First, a little history for you.  When SJVCEO began, waaaay back in 2007 blogs were sort of a new deal. We had ten of them.  That's right.  Ten.  The blog that you know today began as our News and Events blog where the intent was to post meeting notices, conferences, and workshop flyers.  But something happened, better stated, nothing happened.  We had eight posts in all of 2008 and that number dropped off to six in 2009.  We just never acted like a "typical" non-profit.  Our meetings were reserved for the board, and we only ever had one conference per year and that ended in 2009!

We had separate blogs for sustainable communities, renewable energy, biofuels, board members--heck, we had a blog just for media releases that had all of zero posts!  Needless to say we were figuring it out as we went; or as our former Executive Director liked to say, "we're learning to fly while we build the plane".  Something had to give--and one day late in 2009 I just got tired of looking at so many pointless blogs and deleted all but one.

Something else happened in 2009, actually two somethings happened:
Somehow Mike Nemeth and Sandy Nax stumbled into our little operation.  With more than 50 years newspaper experience between them it didn't take long for them to realize the story was our blog needed some lovin'! Soon, between the two the SJVCEO blog was seeing an average of 20 blogs per month.

The most viewed post ever? This gem on electric cars and John Bonham (classic Mike).  The biggest month on record? May 2012 with coverage of everything from solar, to bios, to efficiency, a book review, and an EV shaped like a doughnut.  There was a heck of a lot going on.  And, somewhat fitting, it was Sandy's last month with SJVCEO, and the truth is we've never been able to keep it up since he left.

Then, in the betrayals of all betrayals (what, too much?) Mike abandoned ship and moved down the road to the Air Pollution Control District!

Obviously the wound is still fresh in the SJVCEO office, and one of us may have a flair for the dramatic...

Mike actually still blogs for us.  It was one of his demands upon leaving.  And honestly, if it wasn't for him we would have been dead for the last month and a half.  If you didn't catch them here, here, and here are a few of my favorite post-SJVCEO Mike blogs; this is my absolute favorite--but that's more because Mike's granddaughter, Petra--er, I mean Lem--makes an apperance.  That and it's pretty much awesome.

Okay, long way around to say we needed to make a change or as Petra/Lem would do, move fluidly within our current environment.  We have a new team member, Dee, who made her blog debut yesterday. And Maureen and I are still here, slaving away in a world of energy benchmarking.

So the state of the blog is this: there are now three ladies running the show.  None of us are of the caliber of Mike and Sandy, but we're going to do the best we can to serve their legacy and maybe, just maybe we'll hit that magic number of 100,000 views.  Because we're women we met, made lists, refined our lists, and made a lunch date to address the handling of the blog.  What can you expect from us?  A guaranteed five posts per week (starting Monday, September 24th--also known as my birthday).  We will each post one topic post per week.  Dee will be taking on "Money Mondays" with news, resources, and tips for finance in the clean energy world.  On Wednesday you'll be treated to "Wellness Wednesdays" (somebody loves alliteration, and that somebody is me!) where Maureen will spell out the connection between energy, the environment and your personal wellness.  As for me, I'm looking forward to "Believe it or Not" each Thursday where I get to share something weird or unusual with you--hmm, I wonder what Mike would do? Tuesdays and Fridays are dealers choice, so whatever Dee feels like sharing is what you'll get! Word is Mike will still be on the blog, and we're happy to let him stay since he's sort of like our street cred in the blog world.  And, who knows--we're open to guest bloggers around here, even my brother-in-law took a turn.

We are going to do our best, and we hope you keep reading.  There's been a lot of love that went in and I feel a strong sense of responsibility to see this blog continue.  As I said to Sandy today in an email, "Always [blogging]. Maybe not at the levels of the past, but we'll keep it going" and we will.

Clean energy champion heads to Sacramento

Sanford Nax Esq.
Sandy Nax has left the building.

After more than two years championing the cause of clean and alternative energy at the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization, the veteran journalist and all-around nice guy has taken his talents to California's capital city where he'll be writing about everything real estate for the Sacramento Business Journal.

Sandy has a way with words, producing hundreds of posts on everything from the corporate clean energy buy-in to cow power and anything and everything solar. In fact, one of his last posts, Solar energy advances at rocket speed, is all about the advances of sun-produced energy and politicians missing the memo.

He spent the bulk of his 30-plus year career at the Fresno Bee, a senior reporter known and respected all over the Valley. When it looked as if the newspaper industry was heading for the trash bin of history at record speed, Sandy opted to diversify. He saw promise in the clean energy industry.

While it turns out the demise of the printed daily news story may be somewhat premature, Sandy was right about clean energy. It continues plugging along, winning friends and influencing people. As for newspapers, Warren Buffett seems to think they have a future. The world's third-richest man recently purchased 63 papers from Media General Inc. He's banking on mid-sized papers and a public that believes in quality content that won't be given away.

Let's hope so. Sacramento won a great reporter. Sandy says of the place after his first day: "Great group of people and lots of resources."

Here at the SJVCEO, Sandy mastered social media, building up the @SJVCEO Twitter feed to more than 1,000 followers. He buffed up the organization's facebook site to about 450 friends and its fan page to 169 likes. He also secured a sizable Tumblr following and wrote hundreds of blog posts.

The blog site has generated more than 77,000 page views and has had record visits most every month this year. Of course, for a couple of guys who worked at a newspaper that had more than 166,000 daily subscribers, that still sounds like peanuts.

But in Sandy's case, he was starting from scratch. "SJVCEO who?" people would say. Heck they still say it. But we've had some influence. And Sandy has worked on clean energy projects, helping about 40 cities and counties install energy efficiency retrofits that will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual utility bill savings.

Sandy championed the concept of Solar Valley. The idea is that the region has sun, land, wind, biogas, biofuel, innovators and people who are not afraid of hard work. In other words, all the elements of a clean energy nexus. Solar Valley could be the next Silicon Valley, Sandy would say. Or something like that.

We would talk back and forth about the why not? Clean air is a good thing. Clean energy can generate thousands of jobs and much needed tax revenue. What's not to like? We all want to see the Sierra again and lose the asthma and pollution-violation days.

Sandy you will be missed.