Posts

New solar farm at landfill to save San Joaquin County on energy costs

A local Community Choice Energy program could keep the ball rolling

A new solar farm at Foothill Landfill in Linden has hummed to life, offering $11.9 million in energy cost savings and 5.3MW of clean energy for the San Joaquin County government departments over the next 20 years. It’s a promising development as the City of Stockton explores launching a Community Choice Energy program to offer cleaner energy at competitive rates. Will San Joaquin County be next?

The county’s solar project

About five years ago, the county Board of Supervisors approved a power purchase agreement (PPA) and a lease for Ameresco Inc. to build a ground-mount solar photovoltaic system at the landfill. Following permitting delays and uncertainty over PG&E rates, the board approved amendments to the PPA and lease in 2018 to push the project forward. Construction was completed Nov. 17, 2020. 

Ameresco installed 13,770 solar modules rated at 385W-DC each, as well as 29 solar inverters rated at 125kW-AC each, enough to power over 800 homes, the company announced in a press release. The solar arrays were built on a portion of the landfill that will be unneeded for waste disposal for at least the next 25 years. The new facility is the second project the county has worked with Ameresco on at the site, the other being a 4.3 MW landfill gas to energy project.

With the new generation site, county departments are estimated to collectively save approximately $11.9 million in energy costs over the next 20 years via California’s Renewable Energy Self-Generation Bill Credit Transfer program. San Joaquin General Hospital is set to receive 51% of the savings resulting from the facility, with the rest divided among the Human Services Agency, Sheriff’s Office, Health Care Services, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation budgets. As an added bonus, the Solid Waste Enterprise Fund received an up-front lease payment of $500,000 upon completion of the project.

County Supervisors Kathy Miller and Chuck Winn were quoted in the press release touting the economic and environmental benefits of investing in renewable energy development.

“San Joaquin County, and its local communities, have long prioritized the development of renewable energy resources, both for reducing emissions and supplementing existing electricity generation,” said Chair Kathy Miller. “In addition to its environmental impact, the solar energy system will provide further utility cost savings to our region, which will directly benefit residents and local governments’ ability to better serve its constituents.”

Winn stated, “As a leader in green energy, San Joaquin County is always looking for ways to provide an improved environment for our residents while at the same time providing cost savings to taxpayers.”

Check out this video to learn more about the project.

A Community Choice Energy program could ramp up local renewable energy development

We’re encouraged to see local, innovative investment in renewable energy, and we hope the county’s next move will be to evaluate Community Choice Energy, as the City of Stockton and more than 160 other California cities have done. 

When Ameresco’s lease at the landfill site is up with the county two decades from now, the solar farm will become the property of the county. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to own that electricity and continue to build local capacity rather than selling it to another area? A Community Choice agency would make that possible.

By taking the steps to procure power on behalf of residents and businesses at competitive rates, San Joaquin County could take a lead role in coordinating renewable energy projects across its 900,000-plus acres of land. That could include initiating large-scale and small-scale solar projects, using vacant parcels, rooftops and parking lots with the potential of bringing jobs to the area. Given that Community Choice agencies (CCAs) are not-for-profit entities operated by the local government, more of the benefits of such projects can be retained in the San Joaquin County community.

Numerous other benefits CCAs have provided around the state are reasons to pursue the program as well. Those include support for electric vehicles, innovative energy storage projects, bringing residents a voice and a choice in local energy decisions, generating reserve funds that can be reinvested into the community through tailored programs, and offering competitive power generation rates, among others. Community Choice Energy is precisely the kind of economic innovation the county should be pursuing in its post-COVID roadmap.

The Climate Center recently co-hosted a business forum with The San Joaquin Partnership to provide the Stockton business community with information and updates about the City’s ongoing evaluation of launching a CCA. You can view the recording of that forum here to learn more about Community Choice Energy opportunities in Stockton and San Joaquin County.

Opinion: Methane leaks in the Central Valley may be worsening COVID-19 cases

by Karen L. Jones, California Health Report


Highlights

  • According to the California Department of Public Health, the death rate due to chronic lower respiratory disease is 12 times higher in the San Joaquin Valley compared to the rest of the state and 14 times higher than the national rate
  • The intense pollution in the region can have severe effects on Valley residents who contract COVID-19
  • Kern County does not meet federal ozone and particulate matter standards due to the pollution caused by the region’s petroleum industry among other factors such as unplugged oil wells that leak methane
  • There are reports of several wells leaking at rates over 200,000 percent above the EPA average estimate for western U.S. gas wells
  • Methane leaks detected by using airborne infrared imaging sensors show that nearly 4 billion cubic feet of methane may have been released in Kern County oil fields
  • The gathering of methane plume imagery could help locate and plug methane leaks in oil fields

Increased air pollution from fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.calhealthreport.org/2020/08/18/opinion-methane-leaks-in-the-central-valley-may-be-worsening-covid-19-cases/

The City of Stockton Pursues Community Choice Feasibility Study

The City of Stockton is one step closer to establishing a Community Choice Energy agency (CCA), which would give local residents and businesses an alternative choice in their electricity provider.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) for a CCA feasibility study was posted on the City’s website in May.

That study will evaluate whether local control of electricity procurement would allow lower electric rates for the community, accelerate the transition to sustainable power sources, and create local jobs in sustainable energy development.

The City is also seeking to explore potential for a Joint Powers Agreement with other local jurisdictions.

The CCA could support local environmental plans, including the City’s Climate Action Plan, through the purchase and development of renewable energy, the RFP notes.

We’re very excited to see that some of the goals listed in the RFP include offering cost-competitive rates with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (Stockton’s current electricity provider), increasing the proportion of renewable energy in the City’s power mix by at least 25% more than what PG&E offers, receiving revenues for programs to reinvest back into the community, and reducing Stockton’s greenhouse gas emissions, among others.

The City estimates that it could be issuing a notice to proceed by early August, meaning the study could be complete by October.

It would then come before the City Council, who would be faced with a vote on whether to move forward with CCA.

Residents can hear from local government and community leaders about the opportunities and challenges for CCA in Stockton in our upcoming webinar on July 14 at 11 a.m., co-hosted by Rise Stockton and The Climate Center. Click HERE to register.

Power change by changing power

Karen Barnes handles Development for The Climate Center.

This summer we continue to work on our newest project, to bring Community Choice Energy to California’s Central Valley. All regions in our state should have access to clean power. Climate and environmental impacts are magnified and debilitating for disenfranchised communities that are disproportionately impacted by higher incidences of diseases such as asthma and cancer. Children are especially hard hit when it comes to health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, children exposed to environmental contaminants are at a greater risk than adults for illnesses because their bodies are still growing.

This is an example of air quality readings in Fresno on a typical day.

That’s a major reason why we are focused on the Central Valley.  The percentage of people living in poverty in Fresno County is 24.8% and the percentage of children living in poverty in the county is 53% – the highest in the state.

Access to clean power through Community Choice Energy brings direct economic benefits to disenfranchised communities. It makes clean energy more affordable for all residents and keeps money in the community. The Climate Center symposium in June highlighted a number of local programs that have been initiated by Community Choice Energy agencies around the State. These include energy efficiency programs for multifamily housing and community energy grants, both of which help disenfranchised communities prosper.

Perhaps most important, Community Choice Energy creates local clean energy jobs. An impact study for the San Joaquin Valley estimates that Community Choice Energy could bring as many as 16,000 new jobs in clean energy fields over six years – with a moderate level of local renewable energy investment.

Bringing Community Choice Energy to the Central Valley will take time and resources. It requires local involvement and help from our organization, policy makers, the local government, and individuals.  All this is possible with your help and commitment to a better climate for everyone.

Let’s power change by changing power. Join us.