Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BioCNG™ For Your Car

Biogas used to be considered a non-reusable waste product, but over the last decade or so, a number of benefits of the gas have come to light and biogas is now recognized as a renewable energy source for fuel, electricity and thermal energy.

The folks at Unison Solutions in Dubuque, IA have created BioCNG™, a system that converts biogas into a gaseous fuel for vehicles, much like your typical clean natural gas (CNG). Jan Scott, President of Unison Solutions, gave a webinar – “Converting Biogas into Vehicle Fuel” – for Sustainable City Network about his company’s work, the process of turning biogas into usable vehicle fuel and some interesting facts about this renewable energy source.

The customary process for turning biogas into a renewable energy source seems simple enough. A lot needs to be removed from biogas after it has been extracted from landfills and digesters and before it can be used for energy. First, the biogas goes through hydrogen sulfide removal and then it is compressed. The gas needs to be completely dry, and so the moisture removal process is crucial. Once this is complete, the gas enters a Siloxane, Volatile Organice Compounds (VOC) and Carbon Dioxide removal process and then the fuel is ready for use in boilers, turbines and internal combustion (IC) engines. Unison Solutions notes that BioCNG™ is ready for use in CNG vehicle fueling stations and CNG vehicles at this point as well.
Source: BioCNG™

Jan Scott presented a bunch of inspiring tidbits about CNG in his webinar. The one that shocked me the most is that the US ranks 17th in the world for number of CNG vehicles on the roads (120,000 compared to more than 15.2 million worldwide). There are several existing reports about how much further along Europe is than we are in the states with these vehicles, but you’ll be interested to know that no European country is in the top five either. Nearly 19% of all CNG vehicles in the world are in Iran! Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, and India complete the top five. Most of these countries are developing nations, yet they’ve managed to bring far more clean vehicles and the infrastructure that supports them to their roads than we have.

In 2011 alone, CNG vehicles offset the use of over 350 MILLION gallons of gas. AND 40% of all waste haulers purchased in the same year were CNG. Imagine what we could do if we took alternative fuel and vehicles a little more seriously in this country. To top this all off, CNG costs at least $1.50-$2.00 less per GGE (Gasoline Gallon Equivalent: 120,000 BTU/Gallon) than gasoline does. That’s huge! (Source: Jan Scott's webinar)

Source: Unison Solutions

So, not to sound like a broken record, but we have a lot of concepts and technology out there to get cleaner vehicles on our country's roads. This stuff is far from untapped, but it can certainly seem that way when I look at how much other countries have accomplished in this area. America… let’s do better. Seriously.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Look For Your Climate Credit in October





       
Look for a Climate Credit from the State of California on Your October Utility Bill

This month your electricity bill will include a credit identified as the "California Climate Credit." Twice a year, in April and October*, your household and millions of others throughout the state will receive this credit on your electricity bills.  

The Climate Credit is a payment to Californians from a program designed to fight climate change by limiting the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that our largest industries put into the atmosphere.
This program is one of many developed as a result of landmark legislation called the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which puts California at the forefront of efforts to battle climate change. Other programs under this law increase clean, renewable forms of electricity, promote energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and require cleaner fuels, and more efficient cars and trucks.
Together, these programs will aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere–helping to clean the air and protect our food, water, and public health, as well as the beauty of our state.

The Climate Credit is designed to help you join with California in its efforts to fight climate change and clean the air. You can use the savings on your electricity bills however you choose, but you can save even more money by investing the bill savings from your Climate Credit in energy-saving home upgrades, including more efficient lights and appliances. You can find more information and receive rebates for these and many other energy efficient choices for your home at www.EnergyUpgradeCA.org/credit.

California's greenhouse gas reduction programs provide a range of powerful solutions to help slow climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing society. By gradually reducing emissions each year and moving to cleaner forms of energy, we are taking an important step to preserve the health and prosperity of our state for generations to come.

* Billing periods vary by utility and may not always coincide with a calendar month. If you don't see a Climate Credit in the bill that arrives in October, it will appear in the bill you receive in November.

The CPUC regulates privately owned electric companies and serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates, with a commitment to environmental enhancement and a healthy California economy. For more information about our work contact us at:
news@cpuc.ca.gov, 800-253-0500, or visit www.cpuc.ca.gov

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SJVCEO Monthly Update

Our SJVCEO team continues to master the art of energy efficiency within our participating jurisdictions and put projects into motion. Each day we come to work with a new scope of work to tackle to save others dollars and energy, and enjoy every minute of it!

                A few of our team members have completed hands on training for integrated demand side management. This course was presented by Southern California Edison and was centered on response programs that can benefit municipality’s utility bills. The presenter also discussed distributed generation and energy storage technologies. The demand response historical data is currently being incorporated into the project tracking database that SJVCEO is creating for its municipalities and utility partners.

                Lastly, a few of our team members attended the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley Summit. 

Sarah Farell, our program administrator (and head of our Seattle office) was in town to attend the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley annual summit. This event provided an opportunity for individuals, local governments, educational institutions, and businesses alike to share currents about the Valley as well as potential and up-and-coming events and projects in industries such as agriculture, water, housing, workforce development, energy, transportation, health care, and education. The event also celebrates the work of a variety of groups. This year, a “kudos” award went to the co-chairs of the San Joaquin Valley Electric Vehicle Partnership, Jeannie Lam of Nissan North America and Terry O’Day of NRG eVgo. This Partnership was set up through the WIB RICO grant by its Action Team which includes the SJVCEO, Fresno State Office of Community and Economic Development, the San Joaquin Valley Clean Cities Coalition, Kern Community College District, and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

As we move into the month of October our team is ramping up for all ten of our community outreach events. During these events our team goes out into the community and shows residence how easy it is to become energy efficient and save! Also, we have some great giveaway items that draw in the crowds and in return they walk away with a bit of energy knowledge. Stay tuned to the SJVCEO and VIEW website to see what upcoming events may be taking place in your neighborhood.

                With the mention of the website, that leads us to a very exciting update on our website work. SJVCEO and the VIEW partnership will be receiving a website an update this year. We will be rolling out both of our websites in the coming months, so stay tuned. All of us here at SJVCEO are very excited and we hope that you are too!


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


               

                

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Energy Use Tracking Now at Your Fingertips


Tracking your energy usage in the past has been a pain for many home owners and business owners alike. Now in 2014 there are many options available for download on your smartphone. Having your energy usage at your fingertips can make it easy to see when and how you can conserve and SAVE!

Most applications offered are compatible with iPhone and Android operating systems. Most of all they are generally FREE! We have done some investigating and found the top 5 ranking energy tracking/efficiency apps available today. (Note: these apps are not listed in ranking order)

1.      Kill-Ur-Watts
This app allows you to track your monthly energy usage month-to-month as well as show you what your carbon footprint may be. The app will also make recommendations for how to conserve energy based on your energy usage.

This app lets you put in the wattage information of your appliances so that you gain a clear picture of what it costs to operate them. The cost is based on watts, hours of use and the cost of electricity in your area.

3.      VELObill
This app works as a dashboard of energy usage for the consumer. It will give you insight into where your energy consumption is coming from and how you rank compared to your neighbors. This app goes beyond the others and allows you to measure water and natural gas usage if you have those as well.On top of it all the app will help you identify trouble areas and propose ways to reduce your overall utility bill.

4.      Electrify
This app has a main focus on energy efficient home improvements and lowering monthly utility bills. It will provide you with a range of calculators and guides that will help reduce your energy consumption and energy loss.

5.      Leafully
This app will allow you to see your energy use habits and alert you when your usage is out of the ordinary. It also allows you to see how many trees it will take to offset your carbon footprint.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Advanced Transportation RICO Grant Overview

The California Workforce Investment Board and the California Energy Commission are working with the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to fund the AB 118 Regional Industry Clusters of Opportunity (RICO) grant program. If you’re unaware of Assembly Bill 118, it created an ARFV (Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle) technologies program that funds innovative fuel and vehicle technology projects so that California’s climate goals can be met.

I know that was all a mouthful, but consider this: the RICO grant program will develop and implement ways to strengthen local economies and build the alternative fuel and vehicle workforce in California.

What does that mean and who cares, you ask? Well, transportation fuels account for 38% of greenhouse gas emissions in California. So if we build the ARFV industry, we’ll find cleaner, more efficient ways to transport goods and people. To design and manufacture these new methods of transportation, we’ll need skilled engineers, chemists, machinists, salespersons, etc. Hello new, expanded workforce! And hello stronger economies!

Photo Source: http://www.energy.ca.gov/
The San Joaquin Valley has been taking charge when it comes to developing new alternative fuels and new fuel production methods. For example, an old beet sugar plant in Mendota is making a comeback with a new output. Instead of converting sugar beets into various forms of sugar, a team of farmers are using a state grant to turn beets into ethanol. The demo plant is set to start production early next year and, if it’s successful, a commercial plant will follow in 2016-2017. Production at both would use local beets and run all year long.

The SJVCEO’s role is to promote and generate focus on this grant program through education and outreach. Now that we are nearly a year into this grant process, we have found several industry employers all over the Valley interested in our efforts. We launched a CNG Partnership, a Biofuels Partnership and an EV Partnership. While the EV Partnership has had the most success, we are still dedicated to expanding the efforts of all ARFV industry employers throughout the Valley. Our air is so polluted and we contribute to it daily with how much we all individually drive, it has only become necessary to bring alternative and renewable fuels and vehicles to this region.

Keep an eye out for press releases about Partnership meetings and join us! We hope to see you and hear from you about our efforts and how we can expand this industry in the Valley.

Friday, September 12, 2014

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!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

REBATES! for Your New Alternative or Renewable Vehicle

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) offer a number of rebates, incentives and vouchers to promote the introduction of cleaner vehicles on California roads. So, if you’re looking to get a new (or used) car in the near future, seriously consider an alternative or renewable vehicle. It will save you your money and your lungs over the long term.

First thing’s first. What counts as an alternative or renewable vehicle? There are several technologies available and in development. Here are a few of our favorites:
Now for the incentive and rebates… the best part and probably the reason you’re reading this! 
Photo Source: Zero Motorcycles

CARB is sponsoring a CCSE- administered rebate program for zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Whether you want to buy or lease one of these light-duty vehicles, you can get up to $2,500 through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The website has an extensive list of eligible vehicles, links to apply for the rebates easily online, project statistics, and informative FAQs.

The Drive Clean! Rebate Program, administered by the SJVAPCD, offers up to $3,000 for new vehicles purchases and leases. Check the eligible vehicle list and apply for your well-deserved rebate using this fillable W9 form. If you need more information about all these vehicles, check out this DriveClean Buying Guide. You can access a quick vehicle compare and a Plug-In EV Resource Center or even calculate your savings by rebates and incentives.

The SJVAPCD also has a Vanpool Voucher program to promote carpools for SJV residents. So many people commute 20 miles or more for work by themselves in inefficient vehicles, and this rideshare program would alleviate congestion on the roads and vehicle emissions. The incentive is worth up to $360 a year and you can apply using this fillable form. The SJVAPCD has a number of other grants and incentive programs that target improving our air quality. Check them out here!

I want. If only! The new Tesla Model X.
If you manage a fleet that only operates in California, you could be eligible for this Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). Vouchers are somewhat limited, but they are worth anywhere from $6,000 to $45,000 for each qualified new hybrid or electric truck or bus you buy. Eligible vehicles can be found here and the website has information for all dealers, fleets and vehicle makers. As long as your fleet operates only in California, it is eligible for this project, no matter the size or whether it is private or public.

There is a lot to take advantage of and I suggest you look into these if you’re considering a new vehicle! The technologies are only getting better and our air seems to only be getting worse, especially with this recent drought. So, do your part!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

For those of you who know who Joseph Oldham is you likely are on his email distribution list and receive this update each week.  We are grateful that Joseph has agreed to allow our little blog to re-post his weekly update.  If you have an interest in the happenings of energy efficiency and local government throughout California this is the update for you! If you love the information here, but want more in depth features be sure to check out Joseph's quarterly newsletter, CURRENTS.  


1.  2013 Non-Residential Energy Code Checklists Now Released 
The California Statewide Codes & Standards Program is pleased to announce the release of 9 new Checklists designed to help "decode" California's 2013 building energy code. These easy-to-use checklists provide step-by-step guidance on Title 24, Part 6 requirements for nonresidential plans checks and field inspections. Download and print them for easy "low-tech" use in the field.  To access more information, go to these links: 
2.  City of Berkeley Seeking Examples of RFPs
The City of Berkeley is seeking examples of RFPs for water and energy performance contracts.   If you have one, please send it to Neal De Snoo at ndesnoo@cityofberkeley.info.

3.  Solar Roadmapping Update
Cities and counties interested in increasing use of solar in their communities should consider a solar road mapping program funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE).  Solar Roadmap makes it easier, faster, and more affordable for communities to install solar and transform their solar market.  Solar Roadmap works by unlocking communities’ full solar market potential through five key focus areas: Solar Market Development; Project Financing Tools; Permitting Process Improvements; Planning and Zoning Standards; and Interconnection Processes.
This DOE-led program:
· Requires minimal staff time involvement;
· Provides proven approaches to streamline processes, reduce staff staff time. and increase efficiency;
· Requires no financial commitment or cost to participate.  Funding already provided by DOE; 
· Provides free solar technical feasibility assistance for sites and consulting over the next 2 years; and,
· Currently has over 70 city and county participants in California.
If you would like to learn more or determine how you might participate in this program, please get in touch with Karly Zimmerman at Strategic Energy Innovations at  415.507.1430karly@seiinc.org

4.  100 Resilient Cities Challenge
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced their 100 Resilient Cities Challenge.  For more information about how your city can participate, go to this link:  http://www.100resilientcities.org/pages/100-resilient-cities-challenge?utm_medium=display


5.   SCHEDULE CHANGE for Public Workshops on the Investment of Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds to Benefit Disadvantaged Communities
OAKLAND WORKSHOP HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED TO SEPTEMBER 3.

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and Air
Resources Board (ARB) invite you to participate in public
workshops to discuss investment of Cap-and-Trade auction
proceeds.  Topics will include: the identification of
disadvantaged communities, development of guidance on maximizing
the benefits to disadvantaged communities, and how to determine
what counts as benefiting those communities.

The workshop will be held in three locations as indicated below;
each workshop will cover the same topics.

FRESNO Workshop: August 25, 2014
LOS ANGELES Workshop: August 26, 2014
OAKLAND Workshop: September 3, 2014 (NEW DATE)

The dates that workshop materials will be available have also
been updated.  CalEPA will release information about approaches
to identifying disadvantaged communities by August 15th and ARB
will release draft interim guidance for State agencies to
maximize benefits in disadvantaged communities, including
criteria to determine which projects benefit disadvantaged
communities, by August 20th.

The detailed notice for these workshops and workshop materials on
the investment of auction proceeds to benefit disadvantaged
communities will be made available at:
http://www.arb.ca.gov/auctionproceeds


6.   Program Opportunity Notice - PON-14-305 - Demonstrating Bioenergy Solutions That Support California's Industries, the Environment, and the Grid
Program Opportunity Notice - PON-14-305
Electric Program Investment Charge
Demonstrating Bioenergy Solutions That Support California's Industries, the Environment, and the Grid

Deadline to Submit Applications: November 7, 2014 by 3:00 p.m.

Purpose of Solicitation
The purpose of this solicitation is to fund technology demonstration and deployment projects that demonstrate and appraise the operational and performance characteristics of pre-commercial biomass conversion technologies, generation systems, and development strategies.

Pre-Application Workshop

Energy Commission staff will hold one Pre-Application Workshop to discuss the solicitation with applicants. Participation is optional but encouraged.  Applicants may attend the workshop in-person, via WebEx, or via conference call on the date and at the time and location listed below.

August 21, 2014 workshop:
California Energy Commission
1:30 p.m.
1516 9th Street
Sacramento, CA  95814
Hearing Room A

August 26, 2014 workshop:
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Auditorium
1:30 p.m.
21865 Copley Drive
Diamond bar, CA 91765

https://energy.webex.com

1st Workshop (8/21)
Meeting Number: 920 500 358
Meeting Password: meeting@130
Topic: PON-14-305 Pre-Application Workshop #1

2nd Workshop (8/26)
Meeting Number: 922 158 195
Meeting Password: meeting@130
Topic: PON-14-305 Pre-Application Workshop #2

Telephone Access Only:
Call 1-866-469-3239 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada). When prompted, enter the meeting number
For more information:
http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/epic.html#PON-14-305


7.  Whole House Draft Report Posted for Review and Comment on Public Document Area Site
The draft report for the Whole House Impact Evaluation has been posted to the PDA siteTo view the document and/or provide comments on the report visit the PDA athttp://www.energydataweb.com/cpuc, click on the “Search” tab at the top of the page then scroll down to the bottom and type the following in the search box:
Comments should be uploaded to the website by clicking the comment box.
Comments are due by August 27, 2014 on the Public Document Area.  Final report will be posted on September 5, 2014. 

Questions?

Please contact Mona Dzvova at Mona.dzvova@cpuc.ca.gov

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

EE Tips for Back to School


It's that time of year again! Colleges and preK-12 schools are opening their doors for another year of teaching and learning. Most of you - whether you’re a student, teacher or parent - will have an emptier home over the next 9-10 months. An emptier home provides endless opportunities to lower that energy bill! Here are some energy-saving tips that I follow as well as others from energyinyourlife.com:


1.       Adjusting the thermostat
  • Turn off the thermostat completely, or...
  • Turn up the thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when using AC
  • Turn down the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower when using heat
  • Change the temperature remotely using a programmable thermostat and your smartphone
2.       Making lunches
  • Take out all the food you’ll use from the fridge at once - opening it multiple times uses an exorbitant amount of unnecessary energy
  • Use reusable lunch bags or boxes with insulating sides to keep things cold and reusable sandwich and snack containers to minimize waste
  •  Bring a cold lunch to avoid using a microwave
  • Fill up a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. I like CamelBaks
3.       Unplugging electronics – gaming consoles, computers and rarely used kitchen appliances can use a lot of        power when off but still plugged in, so save some energy and unplug!

4.       Closing blinds
  • AC works a lot harder to keep your home cool when hot sunlight is pouring in
  • Get some insulating shades to keep your home even cooler
5.       Getting an audit
6.       Dressing appropriately – it’s still pretty warm out now, but it’ll cool down soon and if your school is air         conditioned, be prepared and wear layers!

7.       Going to and from school efficiently – walk or bike if you can, and carpool if you need a lift.


Photo Source: http://www.ecosmartworld.com/
Happy first day of school everyone! Have a safe, healthy and happy year. Learn lots!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Warning! Warning! APCD issues Air Alert

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has issued an Air Alert for Monday, August 19th through Wednesday, August 21st. 

What is an Air Alert?

'An Air Alert is a notification that the Valley is currently experiencing conditions that may lead to exceeding a health-based ozone (smog) standard. Air Alerts are issued Valley-wide. In addition to the negative effects on our health, ozone exceedances can also result in monetary penalties to the Valley. This would impose severe financial burdens on Valley businesses and, ultimately, our residents.When an Air Alert is called by the Air District, Valley residents and businesses are advised to put into place measures that reduce vehicle use.'

How can you help?
  • Carpool
  • Utilize other modes of transportation such as riding mass transit, walking, or bicycling
  • Bundle your errands
  • Don't let your car idle - turn it off when waiting for an extended period of time!

The SJVCEO fully supports efforts to keep the San Joaquin Valley and its

residents safe and healthy. Employees at Professional Exchange, the association management company which houses the SJVCEO, are doing their part by eating lunch in the office break room instead of using their vehicles to look for food elsewhere. Great job!