Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

The Leading in Los Angeles (LiLA) technology survey will help in understanding the market barriers and opportunities for deployment of the INTER technology solutions. The goal of the survey is to understand the current design practices of interior window shades and lighting systems in the building industry and assess the current and future market penetration of the proposed INTER technologies from the perspective of customers. 

Click here to take the Survey!
(Survey Deadline: July 20th)

Who should take the survey:
  • Non Profits
  • Government
  • A&E Firms
  • Building owners/operators
  • Property Management Companies
  • Technology Vendors (lighting, advanced lighting controls, daylight harvesting, etc.)


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Copyright © 2018 Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator, All rights reserved.
The wEEkly update for Local Governments and their partners.

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Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
980 9th St., Suite 1700
Sacramento, CA 95814

Corporate Utilities

As Apple stores, data centers and warehouses expand across the globe, the company is looking toward supplying renewable energy… for itself.

Walmart and Google both prioritize renewable energy projects as well, each hoping to eventually get to 100% renewable power. Energy use has skyrocketed in the past few years due to the cloud. So, companies supporting this data have needed to look for alternative ways to support these systems.

Apple's new solar farm through First Solar
Photo Source: NY Times
Companies, as energy wholesalers and efficient users of energy, can reduce their plug loads drastically, reducing operation costs. However, many of these companies are equally focused on the environmental benefits; they understand how necessary it is to change with the times and adopt new energy- and money-saving technologies. Energy production is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and so companies committed to a clean and renewable future want to minimize these emissions through supplying and using renewable energy.

Apple is always looking for new and creative ways to increase its dependence on renewable energy especially as energy from renewable sources continues to drop and be competitive. The company recently went under contract with First Solar to, over 25 years, purchase a new solar farm’s full energy output. This contract allows Apple to be at least somewhat autonomous in its energy purchases and not be subject to higher prices from bigger power companies.

Corporate Renewable Projects
Photo Source: BRC
The number of corporate renewable energy programs and projects doubled from 2013 to 2014 and again from 2014 to 2015 (see image from the BRC). However, while companies are installing large-scale solar projects and purchasing clean energy from local biomass generators for some of their facilities, there is still much to accomplish. The grid is still monopolized by carbon-based energy sources. So, even if a company is dedicated to 100% renewable power, there’s no way to guarantee all energy from the grid is renewable.

Apple, Walmart, Google, and others like MacDonald’s and GM are working with World Resources Institute to determine how to meet the demand for renewable energy in the corporate world. This is a global issue that will only become more serious. 

The good news? Some of the biggest and most influential companies and research institutions committed to this energy supply problem, and so we will see a faster and much more wide spread adoption of technology advances, policy changes and public awareness.

New Solar Projects For The San Joaquin Valley

Agriculture is a $20 billion per year industry in the San Joaquin Valley, and farmers here are the most efficient in the world. But that kind of production comes with a power price tag.

Water pumps, refrigeration and other farm-related uses accounted for 13% and 11% of the total electricity consumed in Fresno and Kern counties respectively in 2009, according to the California Energy Commission. So, it makes sense that growers would be interested in reducing their power bills.

In Delano, grape grower Castle Rock Vineyards recently installed a solar-energy system to power its 280,000-square-foot cold-storage facility - shaving at least $233,000 from its power bills annually.

The system was installed by REC Solar, which featured a profile of the project from Renewable Energy World on its Web site. Castle Rock Vineyards received a federal tax credit, state rebate and bank financing to pay for the 1.1 megawatt system - and is additional proof that clean energy has a place down on the farm.

The system is projected to offset more than 63 million pounds of CO2 emissions, equivalent to removing 6,112 cars from the road, over the next 20 years.

Castle Rock has vineyards in central and southern San Joaquin Valley and in Coachella, near Palm Springs.

With abundant sun, ample land and easy access to the grid, the San Joaquin Valley is considered ripe for solar projects. In fact, Southern California Edison announced today that it inked power-purchase contracts for more than 800 megawatts of power with SunPower Corp. of San Jose and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures of San Francisco that will be created, in part, from projects in Los Banos in Merced County and Arvin and Lamont, both in Kern County.

That is enough power for more than 460,000 average-sized California homes.

A Southern California Edison spokesman said solar is coming of age, making it more economical for utilities committed to increasing their clean-energy portfolio. "This is an important turning point...," said utility vice president Marc Ulrich in a statement. "The advances in photovoltaic technology, couple with economies of scale, enable SCE to provide Californians with a large-scale power plant's worth of emission-free energy at a competitive price."

The contracts include 110 megawatts in Los Banos, scheduled to be operational by year-end 2014; 60 megawatts in Lamont, scheduled to go on-line by Dec. 31, 2013; and 20 megawatts in Arvin, slated to be operational by Sept. 30, 2013.

(photo of Castle Rock Vineyards by

Global warming -- or cooling aerosols?

The subject of global warming remains a political hazard largely due to its perceived uncertainty and the drastic solutions proposed to keep it at bay.

Energy companies believe fossil fuels are king and reject measures that would hamstring their dominance, while renewable energy gurus say, "Too bad, it's gotta be done."

Meanwhile, J.Q. Voter, wavers. He likes clean air but wants a stable economy, jobs and the San Francisco Giants back in the World Series.

"Where the proof?" he asks.

The California Air Resources Board and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe they can track down a piece of the answer through a relatively massive project measuring the pollutants and greenhouse gases fouling California's once azure skies. The $20 million CalNex project dispatched airplanes, ships and researchers to, as officials said, "examine the nexus between air pollution and climate change."

The project took three years to plan. Monitoring started in early May and continued through June, involving four airplanes, NOAA's ocean-going research ship the Atlantis, two land-based air monitoring super sites -- one in Kern County -- and more than 150 highly trained scientists.

Eileen McCauley, manager of the research division at the Air Board, said she expects some preliminary results from the CalNex 2010 study will be presented at the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco in December. She said the California Air Resources Board plans to continue research to produce a report for policy makers on CalNex findings.

The follow-up report is meant to address "emissions (both greenhouse gases and ozone and aerosol precursors), important atmospheric transformation and climate processes, and transport and meteorology," according to documents.

Determining the effects of a warming environment is complex in the extreme. The white paper describing the CalNex project touches on the difficulty researchers have determining how to separate out the cloud of cooling aerosols over population centers from the warming swirling nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and microscopic particulates.

But just about anybody who spent any time around the subject realizes it won't be easy to solve or explain. Our habits as consumers, travelers and entrepreneurs have led us down a comfortable path. Now that road looks a little like the a highway in Canada's Yukon Territories at night in a snowstorm at 35 below -- uncertain at best. explains that scientists believe that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity, but the site places the current level at 388 ppm.

“The goal is to provide decision makers with the information they need to develop win/win strategies that address both climate and air quality,” said A.R. Ravishankara, director of NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Division, in a statement.

Officials said the CalNex data will help scientists better understand atmospheric-chemical transformations and climate processes and help the Air Board measure greenhouse gases, traditional air pollutants and their causes.

But don't expect miracles even after results are posted and regulations announced. Coming to terms with the state of the environment is something many of us would rather avoid. The answer might mean we'd have to adapt.

Not that it can't be done. It's just not easy.

Storing Energy Is Key to Renewable Power

Energy storage, as guest columnist Rick Phelps of High Sierra Energy Foundation, noted in this recent blog, is crucial to the whole renewables effort. After all, wind and solar are intermittent, and we need to find ways to economically save the power for later use.

That's where two projects come in. In the first, Colorado-based Ice Energy has received $24 million in investment financing to support its deployment of utility-scale energy-storage projects, including a 53-megawatt project under way with the Southern California Public Power Authority, which includes 12 entities, including Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and municipal utilities in Anaheim, Riverside, Burbank and Glendale.

The joint powers authority delivers electricity to 2 million customers over an area of 7,000 square miles.

In the other, Southern California Edison announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy for a $25 million stimulus grant to develop and conduct a comprehensive demonstration of lithium-ion battery storage for energy generated by wind projects.

The DOE funding is one of 32 stimulus grants awarded late last year to demonstrate advanced Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
SCE will use the funds to integrate wind-powered generation from the Tehachapi region in Southern California into the electric grid to help the state meet its ambitious renewable energy goals.

The $25 million DOE grant matches funds totaling $30 million provided by SCE and its partners, including a $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission, resulting in a total project cost of almost $60 million.

Meanwhile, the Ice Energy project would help reduce peak energy demand in California by shifting up to 40% to off-peak periods, which improves the reliability of the power grid. That leads to lower daytime energy consumption, increased efficiency, lower bills and a smaller environmental footprint.

"By using storage to change how - and more importantly when - energy is consumed by air conditioning, we can offset enough peak serve the equivalent of 10,000 homes," said Bill Carnahan, executive director of the power authority.

Ice Energy's system stores energy at thousands of locations and uses Smart Grid technology to intelligently dispatch the energy during peak periods. The $24 million provides the company with working and capital growth. The money came from several investment groups.

Not to be outdone are two utilities in Hawaii, which received a total of $2.1 million in federal stimulus money for energy-storage programs. $1.2 million is going to Maui Electric Co. and $900,000 is earmarked for Hawaii Electric Light Co.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of

Edison Solar Project Generates 125 Jobs in Porterville

On the heels of a UC Merced report that says clean energy could produce 100,000 jobs in the San Joaquin Valley comes this announcement from Southern California Edison: A solar power plant being built near Porterville will create about 125 construction jobs.

The solar array of 29,400 panels is being built on 32 acres of city land next to the Porterville airport. It will generate enough electricity to power 4,000 houses. in the area.

The installation joins SCE power plants online in Fontana and Chino, both in the Inland Valley portion of Southern California, and six others under construction in the same region. Over the next five years, the utility plans to install 250 million watts of solar power at 100 sites. Its solar program could create 1,200 jobs, the utility says.

The San Joaquin Valley is considered ripe for renewable-energy projects and research. Ample sunshine; abundant land - much of it out-of-production farmland; proximity to transmission lines; fewer concerns over endangered species; and a strong labor force are some of assets.

In addition, high power bills and low incomes make the Valley a natural for energy-efficiency programs.
(map from

Solar project under construction near Avenal

One of the largest proposed solar photovoltaic facilities in California is getting under construction near Avenal in Kings County.

When operating at full capacity - possibly as early as 2011 - the project, which is actually three separate components known as Avenal Park, Sun City and Sand Drag, will generate 45 megawatts of power, enough to power at least 36,000 homes, according to developers Eurus Energy America and NRG Solar.

The electricity produced by thin film solar panels will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric, and advance the state's objective of achieving 33% renewable power generation by 2020. "The Avenal projects are just the first of many utility-scale PV solar projects that we expect to be developing, building and owning in the state of California," said Mark E. Anderson, president of Eurus Energy America in San Diego.

About 200 people are expected to be employed during the construction process, according to Sierra2thesea, an online news blog that covers the Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley. The project is one of a long line of solar proposals for the Valley, which has ample sun resources and vacant land, and is ideally suited for an emerging solar industry.

(Photo of NRG CEO Dave Crane by