Keeping Kids Comfortable to Enhance Learning

One would think a school in San Diego County would rely on the ocean breeze to keep students at a comfortable temperature. However, Bonsall Unified School District lies well inland with five schools and just over 2,000 students. Unfortunately, the breeze just isn’t quite enough and the school decided it was time to replace and upgrade the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) unit and controls at Norman L. Sullivan Middle School.

The district applied to the California Energy Commission for over $86,000 in funding from Proposition 39, an initiative California voters approved in 2012 that closed a tax loophole and had rewarded businesses for moving jobs out of state. Now those tax dollars are being invested in our children, our schools and our environment.

As part of the project, the school also replaced their outdated thermostats with 365-day programmable Wi-Fi units. The total project, which was completed in December 2014, will reduce the amount of electricity and natural gas the school used, saving an estimated $6,000 per year.

To see the list of approved Energy Expenditure Plans by district, visit the Energy Commission’s Proposition 39 webpage and click on Energy Expenditure Plan list.

DOD Drafts Energy Commission in Climate Battle

Uncle Sam has ordered the armed forces to go green, so Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine installations throughout the state have allied with the California Energy Commission to help installations transition to renewable and alternative energy projects.

From left to right: California Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment) the Honorable Dennis McGinn, Brigadier General Edward D. Banta, Commanding General MCI West-MCB Camp Pendleton.
California has more military installations and operational areas than any other state in the nation. Each branch has its own energy plan developed based on their unique mission requirements.

"It is a natural fit for the Energy Commission and the Department of Defense (DOD) to work together," said Energy Commissioner David Hochschild. "Not only from a policy standpoint, but because many of the installations are located in areas with quality wind, solar and geothermal energy resources, which is a great asset in helping DOD meet its goals and which also contributes to California's Renewables Portfolio Standard."

DOD is the largest single consumer of energy in the country, and like California, it recognizes the strategic, economic and environmental threat posed by the continued dependence on fossil fuels alone and has embraced innovative renewable energy solutions and efficiency strategies. DOD's goal is to have 25 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2025.

In addition to sharing ideas and technologies with installations, the Energy Commission coordinates with renewable energy developers so that proposed projects do not interfere with space owned, leased or used for military for training or testing; and helps funds innovative energy research demonstration projects like the vehicle-to-grid program at Los Angeles AFB, which features the largest fleet of non-tactical plug-in vehicles in the federal government.

Check out more stories like this in the latest edition of the Energy Commission’s newsletter, the Spark.

California’s Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is helping California meet its electricity needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow the state’s economy.

In its latest tracking progress report on renewable energy, the California Energy Commission estimates that nearly 25 percent of electricity retail sales in 2014 came from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric. California is on track to meet the Renewables Portfolio Standard goal requiring all utilities to procure 33 percent of retail sales from renewable resources by 2020.

Learn more about California’s pursuit of its nation-leading energy goals and how renewable energy is changing the landscape for California in this video interview with Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

Landmark Exchange of Desert Lands Would Advance California’s Conservation and Clean Energy Goals

The California State Lands Commission (SLC) and the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are pursuing an exchange of state and federal lands in the California desert that will protect conservation lands and facilitate renewable energy development.

At a Lands Commission meeting today, the agencies signed a memorandum of intent for a proposed land exchange of approximately 61,000 acres of non-revenue generating lands in federal wilderness and other conservation areas for approximately 5,600 acres of federal lands with the potential for, or previously developed with, renewable energy facilities.

The lands are in San Bernardino, Inyo and Riverside counties and within the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) area. The California Energy Commission is part of a four-agency team that issued the draft DRECP in September 2014. The BLM is expected to release the DRECP Land Use Plan Amendment and Final Environmental Impact Statement later this year. The land exchange supports the DRECP goals to help protect and conserve desert ecosystems while facilitating appropriate renewable energy development.

“We are pleased to be standing with the State Lands Commission and Bureau of Land Management as they move forward with this important agreement,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. “These landmark exchanges will help the state and our federal partners advance our renewable energy and conservation goals in the California desert.”

The exchange has the added benefit of providing revenue for California’s retired teachers. Some of the lands were granted by Congress to California in 1853 and any revenue from the lands goes to support the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

California Joins Alliance to Speed Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicles

California is joining with 10 European and North American governments as founding partners of a new international alliance to accelerate the world’s adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

Members of the International ZEV Alliance will collaborate on ambitious targets to get more zero-emission vehicles on roads, share data and best practices and encourage other governments to join them. The founding members were announced today at a signing event at the Quebec government office in New York.

The International Council on Clean Transportation estimates the one millionth plug-in electric vehicle will drive the world’s roads this month, but electric vehicle growth will have to ramp up significantly to achieve long-term climate goals. This is where the International ZEV alliance will step in.

“These collaborations and partnerships are essential to creating global markets for zero emission vehicles and to achieving our ambitious climate goals,” said California Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott, who participated in the organizing of the International ZEV Alliance.

The California Energy Commission is committed to transitioning to alternative and renewable fuels and vehicles. It has invested $38.3 million in electric vehicle support, including 7,754 chargers. It has also invested $80.4 million for 54 hydrogen refueling stations to support zero-emission fuel-cell cars. Several stations have opened and others are anticipated to open by next year.

Monterey Park Opens CNG Station Funded by California Energy Commission

The City of Monterey Park has a new compressed natural gas (CNG) station, upgraded from an outdated fueling station at City Yard, which had slow fueling capacity and functional challenges because replacement parts were no longer available.

The station is one of 60 CNG or liquefied natural gas stations and five renewable gas stations in the state that have been funded through the California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP).

“California is working to meet its climate and clean air goals and the transportation sector is responsible for about 40 percent of the greenhouse gas pollution in the state,” said Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation for the Energy Commission. “With CNG offering a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with gasoline and diesel, it is important to support projects such as this to realize near-term greenhouse gas reductions.”

More than 4,000 natural gas vehicles will soon be on California roads needing fuel stations. The Energy Commission considers CNG a good near-term alternative fuel to petroleum products while cleaner alternative fuels are developed. The fuel is particularly useful in medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

In addition to fueling stations, the Energy Commission has invested in CNG-fueled moving vans and in 180 CNG trucks at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports among other projects.

More about the ARFVTP can be found at:

City of Torrance Dedicates the First of Six Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The City of Torrance dedicated the first of six electric vehicle charging stations planned at libraries, parks and its civic center complex on the opening day of National Drive Electric Week. Four Level 2 chargers and one DC Level 3 charger were installed at the Katy Giesser Library-Civic Center Complex, while four Level 2 chargers and one Level 3 charger are planned for other sites – all with funding from the California Energy Commission.

The September 12 dedication was combined with an Electric Vehicle Expo and Electric Vehicle Ride & Drive to help drivers get better acquainted with plug-in electric vehicles available on the market and the network of chargers being installed around California. The Energy Commission recently invited public and private entities to seek grant funding to install electric vehicle chargers on major north-south highways to allow electric vehicle drivers to travel from San Diego to the Oregon border.

Since 2009, the Energy Commission has invested $38 million to fund 7,754 charging stations throughout the state. The charging infrastructure will help the state meet its goal of getting 1.5 million electric vehicles on California roads by 2025. It’s an important goal because 36 percent of the state’s greenhouse gases come from transportation.

“Electric vehicles are fun to drive, less costly to fuel and maintain, and help California achieve its clean air and greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said Janea A. Scott, lead commissioner on transportation for the Energy Commission.

Governance Plan Approved for Energy Imbalance Market

To make any train run on time you need a conductor, and this week the Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) did just that as it established a new governance structure.

The EIM is a real-time energy wholesale market that automatically dispatches the lowest cost electricity resources over a large geographic area of the western United States – participating balancing authorities. The EIM launched on November 1, 2014 and includes utility territories in six states. What was the result? A savings of more than $21 million in the first eight months of operation.

EIM benefits reflect more efficient dispatch, reduced renewable energy curtailment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the west and less need for flexible reserves.

This week the governance over EIM related matters was updated by the EIM Transitional Committee, which consists of members from throughout the west and is chaired by Commissioner Rebecca Wagner of the Public Service Commission of Nevada.

From left to right: Natalie Hocken (EIM Entity PacifiCorp), Kevin Lynch (​Iberdrola Renewables), Robert Weisenmiller (California Energy Commission), Rebecca Wagner (Public Utilities Commission of Nevada), Dede Hapner (Pacific Gas and Electric), Tony Braun (Braun Blaising McLaughlin & Smith, PC)
“The governance proposal is a strong, innovative approach that ensures the Energy Imbalance Market serves the diverse areas of the west and enable its participants to reduce costs,” said Commissioner Wagner. “I have enjoyed working with an exceptional group of industry professionals that are the best in the business.”

Robert B. Weisenmiller, Chair of the California Energy Commission and member of the EIM Transitional Committee, said the governance structure approved by the Board is carefully thought out and represents the interest all current and future participants.

“The governance structure was built from feedback from stakeholders in California and in other states to be well represented in the Energy Imbalance Market,” Weisenmiller said. “I’m proud of the Transitional Committee’s work and pleased that this has been approved by the ISO Board.”

The approved governance structure includes the following attributes, among others:
  • Establishment of a regionally-minded EIM governing body with delegated authority over market rules of the EIM.
  • The governing body would be comprised of five members, financially independent of stakeholders.
  • Nominees for the governing body would be identified by a nominating committee comprised of stakeholder representatives.
  • The governing body would represent all real-time market participants’ interests, regardless of where they are located.

Learn more about the EIM by visiting this California ISO web page.