In 2015, a diverse team of partners with funding from the Strategic Growth Council launched the Sustainable Energy Roadmap (SER) program throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Key partners include Madera County Transportation Commission, San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council, Strategic Energy Innovations, Optony, Inc., Colorado Energy Group, Inc., and National Association of Regional Councils. The program focus is to help Valley jurisdictions, particularly disadvantaged communities, and set and pursue goals relating to water conservation, smart growth, transportation, land use and energy.
Over the next year and a half of operation, 14 Valley jurisdictions signed up and participated in this program, receiving technical, tailored guidance. The SER has developed a number of clean energy projects in the Valley, including:
- Solar for Multifamily Affordable Housing Properties. The SER team compiled a guidebook on how to effectively plan and finance solar photovoltaic (PV) installations on existing multifamily properties; such properties face hurdles in the attempts to deploy solar PV. The guidebook will be widely distributed throughout the San Joaquin Valley (Valley) and beyond to create maximum benefit to low-income, multifamily housing facilities. Part of this effort includes the team supporting Self Help Enterprises by providing Solar Prescreen Reports. This activity is designed to put Self Help Enterprises in a place to pursue solar across their 27 existing affordable housing properties in the Valley.
- Municipal Solar Aggregation. The SER implementation team held a workshop at Fresno City Hall in late April 2016 to share an opportunity to catalyze the aggregation of cities and counties to pursue solar for municipal facilities/properties, and to help them achieve the associated benefits of a bulk purchase. This addresses municipal sector goals, and provides technical assistance to city partners in the pursuance of those goals.
- Leveraging SB 535 to Address Low-Income Whole Home Upgrades. Project objective to increase disadvantage communities access to a host of services. The SER team is working to coordinate providers (within and across counties) and avoid a silo approach, thereby providing a greater breadth of services and value to low-income residents. A prime focus of this effort is to provide a single entree point for homeowners to qualify and access services; and the need to streamline the intake process. Residents will benefit from lower energy bills, and healthier homes.
- Develop stronger policies supporting installation of Electrical Vehicle (EV) charging stations. The SER team researched and summarized electric vehicle supply equipment ordinance language and provided relevant municipal code examples to the city from five jurisdictions. With this guidance and the resources provided by the SER team, the City of Fresno was able to take action on a sustainable transportation goal they had long held.
Additionally, the SER team developed and issued a comprehensive white paper describing strategies for balancing clean energy and food production to encourage solar energy growth in the Valley. The paper examines the physical infrastructure of large-scale solar facilities and how local governments around the country balance energy development on agricultural land. The report makes 10 recommendations including a call for stronger local government mitigation and decommissioning requirements, and developing more solar resource assessments which involve mapping ideal solar locations and prime farmland. Additional information on the SER project can be found at the www.my.cleanenergyroadmap.com/partner/sanjoaquinvalley or by contacting Nathan McKenzie: Nathan@seiinc.org, (415)507-1432.
On April 8, 2016, the Clean Energy Cluster hosted a Clean Energy Summit in Visalia. Community Choice Energy and clean transportation were among the topics of event breakout sessions. Clean energy champions in the Valley were recognized; scholarships were awarded to high caliber students choosing to pursue careers in clean energy and alternative fuels. Since 2014, the Cluster has awarded more than $25,000 in scholarships.