UC Berkeley

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

Here are your wEEkly Updates:

News and Opportunities
Targeted Process Evaluation of the Local Government Partnership (LGP) Program
Research into Action (RIA), SCE's consultant preparer, has been for over a year working to craft this study to address three primary subjects: developing new useful criteria to organize and group similar LGPs for the purpose of more easily evaluating the diverse sector; shedding light on the effectiveness of LGP muni retrofits; and further building our body of knowledge on LGP strategic-plan projects. A webinar is being conducted on 11/8 (see calendar section). Comments are due November 16, 2016 via http://www.energydataweb.com/cpuc/search.aspx.

Energy Department Recognizes UC Berkeley for Leadership in Campus-Wide Energy Innovations
As part of the Obama Administration's effort to cut energy waste in the nation's university buildings and facilities, the Energy Department's Better Buildings Challenge program recognized University of California, Berkeley for its leadership in energy efficiency.

First-of-its-Kind Energy Storage Project
Advanced Microgrid Solutions and the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) launched a landmark water-energy project using advanced energy storage systems to better integrate renewable power, reduce demand on the electric grid and lower costs. The project further enables IEUA to protect its customers while addressing the link between water and the energy needed to process and transport it.

Will California Drivers Get in Electric Cars to Save $13.5 Billion?
A new report (see resource section) indicates that a shift to electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles could save Californians $13.5 billion in health and climate costs by 2050.

USDA Investing More Than $300M in Efficiency, Renewables
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $300 million in projects aimed at increasing use of renewables and energy efficiency options for small businesses through their Rural Energy for America (REAP) program.

Job Opportunity: Energy and Sustainability Analyst, County of Sonoma
The Sonoma County General Services Department seeks a qualified professional to become an Energy and Sustainability (ES) Analyst in their ES Division. Under general direction, the ES analyst plans, develops, coordinates, and implements ES Division customer project support efforts; provides project selection technical support, energy and water evaluation and analysis, and project financing resources; and is responsible for collecting and analyzing data and reporting results. Applications due November 14, 2016.

11/1 (webinar) A Recipe for Award-Winning Online Community Engagement
This highly visual 45-minute webinar will present research findings, proven best practices, practical tips and award-winning case studies to guide agencies towards the successful application of online community engagement for planning projects. Participants will walk away with an understanding about how to leverage digital engagement to achieve unprecedented results using cost-effective tools.

11/2 (San Francisco / dial-in) Coordinating Committee Meeting #11
This meeting is your opportunity to discuss the PA's visions and strategies for achieving maximum cost-effective savings and transforming markets over the next 10 years. The Business Plans set the groundwork for future programs and Implementation Plans.

11/3 (webinar) Boom Chika Boom: Demand Response and Behavior Change
A peer exchange call to discuss demand response and the most effective ways to change behaviors to improve residential energy efficiency.

11/7 (Sacramento / webcast) Workshop on 2030 Target Scoping Plan Update
This workshop will discuss policy scenarios and associated reductions; the Natural and Working Lands Sector, including carbon sequestration scenario modeling and ARB's Natural and Working Lands inventory; and public health implications of climate change and mitigation policies.

11/8 (webinar) Targeted Process Evaluation of the LGP Program
This webinar is to discuss the study background and goals, methods, and findings paired with conclusions and recommendations. 
11/16 (Berkeley) ZNE Workshop for Local Governments
This six-hour workshop will support local governments working to integrate state goals to achieve zero net energy (ZNE) buildings. Learn about examples, emerging trends, new programs and tools to support local government ZNE policy and plan development.

Resources and Reports

Practical Guide to Transforming Energy Data into Better Buildings
This guide uses the lifecycle of energy data as a framework to help you understand what and when data can be collected, and how to best evaluate the data for meaningful insights. The lifecycle follows through the following path: understanding where the data is coming from; aggregating the different data sources; transforming data into actionable insights; taking insights-driven actions; using data to track and evaluate results; leveraging energy insights beyond building management; and 8 steps to get started today.

Clean Air Future: Health and Climate Benefits of Zero Emission Vehicles
This report was produced by the American Lung Association in California to illustrate the billions of dollars in health and other societal damages caused by passenger vehicle pollution today, and to highlight the benefits of the ongoing transition to zero emission technologies across the passenger vehicle fleet.

Electric Company Smart Meter Deployments: Foundation for a Smart Grid
This report describes how electric companies are using smart meter data today to improve grid operations, integrate distributed energy resources, provide customer services, and support innovative pricing. It also describes the growing importance of the distribution system.

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)
DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency organized by state.

Stand Aside: The Rush To Solar Valley Is On!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's a link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biofuel Research Taking Center Stage

I sit in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, a bountiful region that has been referred to as the world's salad bowl - and for good reason.

Farmers here produce $20 billion worth of food and fiber annually that is shipped worldwide. Growers in Central California are efficient, productive, technologically advanced and raise a myriad of crops. Which leads me to wonder: could they become leaders in biofuel development too?

The United States and Brazil dominate biofuel production, led by ethanol. In 2009, the U.S. produced half of the world's supply of ethanol, most of it from corn, according to this report that UC Berkeley helped develop.

More production is likely as research into biofuel continues. Algae - pond scum and easily grown - shows promising potential. UC Merced, 60 miles from my desk in Fresno, is conducting cutting-edge research into algae, and a water-treatment company has inked a deal to distribute algae-extraction systems to its customers.

Algae research already is creating jobs, according to the study that UC Berkeley participated in. Solazyme, a biotech firm near San Francisco, has been hiring algae researchers at the rate of one per week. But other types of fuel are being tested as well. Among them are jatropha, switchgrass , sorghum (which is being tested in Hanford), canola and Miscanthus.

President Obama, trying to wean the nation off oil, is offering $30 million over the next three or four years for biofuel research, and the Berkeley study talks about growth in the industry.

"As start-ups mature and commercialize their technologies, the industry will bring on workers for a full range of production needs. That diverse workforce will range from farmers to....molecular engineers."

Farmers will be needed to grow the fuel sources, whatever they may be. The Southeast and Midwest are promising centers of biofuel, but some of the research is occurring in California, according to this report out of Parlier.

I wonder if the Valley's farmers - who are among the most entrepreneurial in the world - can perhaps help create a new cash crop.

Image by Solar1.org

On The Way To The San Joaquin Valley's New Industry

Green jobs could be a game changer in the San Joaquin Valley, where joblessness exceeds Appalachia levels, and where high temperatures, low incomes, geography and bountiful resources combine to create a strong foundation for an emerging clean-energy industry.

Many people consider clean energy to be solar farms, wind turbines, biofuel facilities and methane digesters. That's all true. And we're seeing more of them in the Valley, particularly solar.

UC Merced is conducting ground-breaking research. More farmers are using the sun to power their operations. Fallow farmland on the west side of the Valley is attractive to developers of proposed large-scale solar projects, as this item in Sierra2thesea notes, because we have something many regions don't: few environmental issues and ample access to the transmission grid.

But, clean energy also is weatherization, upgraded air conditioners, more efficient lighting and smarter use of electricity. Such efficiency measures are key to the state's overall clean-energy plan. In fact, federal Department of Energy officials call efficiency the "low-hanging fruit" of clean energy.

Relatively inexpensive fixes can reap maximum savings for businesses and homeowners who struggle to pay their energy bills. At my house, the summer power bill is exceeded only by my mortgage. Cutting my utility costs means more money in my pocket - and ultimately into the economy.

Developing a workforce capable of capitalizing on the growth of clean energy and conservation is key. More educational and training programs are being created, but not necessarily in a coordinated way, UC Berkeley points out in a new study that focuses heavily on the energy-efficiently part of the new economy.

Here is a news release on that report, plus the study itself.

In a nutshell, the comprehensive analysis concludes that energy efficiency goals provide career opportunities for Californians, but that training and education programs are fragmented.

The study forecasts about $11.2 billion worth of public and private investments in energy efficiency in California by 2020, up from $6.6 billion in 2010. The future jobs that are directly related to energy efficiency work — and thus in need of “green” training — are primarily in traditional construction trades, such electricians, carpenters and sheet metal workers, and the researchers said that very few are in new specialized “green” occupations such as energy auditors or solar installers.

However, researchers are worried about work quality. Poor quality installation and maintenance of energy-efficient equipment and materials is common in some sectors, prior research has shown, and the UC Berkeley team found a correlation between low wages wages and high worker turnover.

They found more than 1,000 training programs throughout the state already offering basic- to advanced training for the most in-demand occupations. These are in four-year universities, community colleges, state-certified apprenticeship programs, utility-training centers, private training organizations, community-based organizations and high school career technical programs.

Concerns about shortages of jobs for graduates from education and training programs are real, and likely to persist through 2020, particularly for those with less than four years of college, so emphasis should be placed on revamping and leveraging existing training programs, the researchers noted in their report.

Here are some recommendations:

•Set clear skill certification requirements for workers doing energy efficiency work and encourage businesses to adopt them, particularly as new technologies are introduced

•Support employers who invest in a stable, higher skill and higher wage workforce by enforcing building codes and other regulations, by setting standards on contractors who receive public and ratepayer funded incentives or contracts, and by requiring skill certifications for workers;

•Focus workforce education and training on “greening” the traditional trade occupations, rather than creating new narrow and short-term energy efficiency-specific training programs;

•Support state-certified apprenticeships and improve coordination between community colleges programs and apprenticeships.

If we do this right, clean energy can be to the San Joaquin Valley what high tech is to Silicon Valley and movie making is to Hollywood.

Image: pocketinfo.net