The California Energy Commission has started off the new year by approving $17.5 million in funding for several clean energy projects. Three alternative fuel projects will receive a total of $12 million. Two geothermal projects will get $4 million, and $3.5 million will go to local energy efficiency projects.
The bulk of the alternative fuel projects’ $12 million will go to the Regents of the University of California to help increase the number of natural gas vehicles driving on California’s roads, highways, and freeways. Natural gas vehicles produce less air pollution, and some California cities have air pollution problems, so increasing their number could be helpful.
According to the California Energy Almanac, there are over 30,000 vehicles in California that run on natural gas. This is the largest number among US states. Acceptance of natural gas vehicles appears to be good in California, so campaigning for more could be effective.
$600,000 will go to the US General Services Administration for the purchase of fifty EV charging stations at federal facilities in California. Presumably this is to support government vehicles that are all-electric and perhaps to assist government employees to charge their own personal all-electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids. If this is true, it is a generous effort to provide more electric vehicle charging capacity.
$300,000 will go for the running and upkeep of a hydrogen refuelling station in Sacramento.
These alternative fuel projects related to vehicles might seem more intriguing because most of us drive and can relate to them in some way.
However, the two geothermal projects that received funding are just as noteworthy. A little over $3 million will be granted to the Modoc Joint Unified School District. The district already has a geothermal system but it will be expanded to two schools and a swimming pool. The new geothermal investment is expected to save about $4 million dollars by reducing energy costs over the next 25 years.
Also in Modoc County, is a geothermal project that will receive about $1 million to explore and analyze geothermal energy for an installation at Surprise Valley Hot Springs Resort. Ten thousands dollars per year could be saved by the resort when this new thermal unit is operational. In case you are wondering where the resort is located, the site is in northern California, near the borders of Oregon and Nevada.
Much further south sit the cities of San Mateo and Morro Bay. San Mateo is about 30 miles south of San Francisco and Morro Bay is close to San Luis Obispo.These two smaller cities will receive a total of $3.5 million dollars for energy efficiency projects. $3 million will go to San Mateo to purchase about 5,000 LED street light fixtures, which will reduce electricity consumption when they are functioning. Total savings is expected to be $270,000 annually. The $3 million is for a loan to buy the LEDs. If everything goes according to plan, the loan can be paid back after eleven years.
A loan of about $560,000 will go to Morro Bay for various energy efficiency measures like installing several solar systems.
All in all, one might say starting the new year with clean energy and energy efficiency measures is a great way to begin. Clean energy investment is not only good for the environment, it can be better for public health and creates skilled jobs, which contribute to local economies. California is a technology and clean energy leader in the United States.
Image Credit: calilover, via Wiki Commons
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