Playa del Rey Station Joins Hydrogen Refueling Network

The California Energy Commission welcomed another new hydrogen refueling station to its network.

The Playa del Rey station, now open at 8126 Lincoln Boulevard in Los Angeles, provides Californians with the fueling options they need to consider replacing their petroleum-fueled cars with hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles. Fuel-cell cars, like all-electric plug-in cars, do not emit smog-forming pollution. They help California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, which warm the earth and change its climate.

The Energy Commission has funded 49 hydrogen stations. It is working to ensure as many of them as possible are open by the end of 2016, with plans to fund up to 100 for the initial introduction of hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles in the California marketplace.

Hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars are much quieter to drive than gasoline-fueled cars. Fuel-cell cars have about the same range – 300 miles – on a full tank and they can be larger than the battery electric vehicles that rely on heavy batteries. Filling up a fuel-cell vehicle takes about three to five minutes and is similar to traditional gas cars that receive liquid gas.

California requires at least 33 percent of the hydrogen used by fuel-cell cars to be from renewable energy sources. Some stations will dispense 100 percent renewable hydrogen. Hydrogen refueling stations and vehicles are safe. They have been around for at least 20 years, supporting transit buses.

With transportation responsible for 37 percent of California’s greenhouse gases, zero-emission cars, such as hydrogen fuel-cell electric cars, can help California reach its climate change goals and reduce air pollution. That’s why the Energy Commission is funding hydrogen refueling stations and electric vehicle chargers.

See the status and locations of these stations here.

Production of Electric Bus Traveling Up To 350 Miles on Single Charge Spurred by Energy Commission

As electric vehicle technology advances so does the distance the vehicles can travel on a single charge.

Last week, electric bus maker Proterra announced it is bringing a bus line to market that can travel up to 350 miles on a single charge.

Proterra’s Catalyst E2 bus line means there will be a bus that can serve the full daily mileage needs of many U.S. transit routes.

A $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission spurred the production of the Catalyst E2, which has a storage capacity of between 440 to 660 kilowatt hours.

The 2015 grant came from the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which provides up to $100 million annually for technology to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, curtail greenhouse gases and meet clean air standards. The grant helped fund the design, development, and construction of two new zero-emission, battery-electric transit bus manufacturing facilities - one in Burlingame and the other in the City of Industry.

“The Energy Commission is pleased to partner with Proterra as they develop and deploy all electric buses that will provide Californians a zero-emission transportation option,” said Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott.

During the term of the grant, Proterra manufactured and sold more than 424 buses.

In the coming months, the company will begin manufacturing the Catalyst E2 to meet the growing demand for zero-emission mass transit buses. Sales of Proterra’s buses have been growing; this year sales of its buses are already 220 percent higher than sales in 2015, the company said.

“Proterra's announcement is yet another milestone in California's long push to electrify transportation and other services that use fossil fuels,” said Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

Further greenhouse gases reductions will come as a result of the buses using power from the electric grid – with half of that power to come from renewable energy by 2030, Hochschild said.

The Catalyst buses are offered in two options. One is a fast charge technology option where buses can recharge in 10 minutes, with a nominal range of up to 62 miles between charges. An extended range option offers a nominal range of up to 194 miles per charge, recharging in roughly 75 minutes.

Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan in Southern California Announced

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today announced the finalization of the first phase of an ambitious renewable energy plan eight years in the making called the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).

The wide ranging landscape-level plan seeks to spur renewable energy activity while protecting conservation land and recreation areas among 10 million acres in Southern California.


The two-phase land use plan is a collaborative effort between the BLM, the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The plan involved extensive feedback from the public and stakeholders.

The plan's first phase involves federal land in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. It identifies 388,000 acres of development areas of high-quality renewable energy potential.

The first phase is part of a comprehensive plan that encompasses 22 million acres of public and private land in Southern California. The second phase will address management of renewable energy on private lands.

“By designating over 600 miles of renewable energy areas, the DRECP provides a clear pathway for projects on public lands, while giving the state much greater certainty about where those projects could be located,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas.

The Energy Commission developed planning assumptions for the plan. The plan assumes that 8,174 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy will be developed on public land.

“Renewable energy is a key part of California’s approach to addressing climate change and large scale renewable projects in the California desert will play an essential role in California meeting climate and renewable energy goals,” said Douglas.

The DRECP is crucial to California's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to permit 20,000 MW of renewable energy on public lands by 2020.

The DRECP specifies species, ecosystem and climate adaptation requirements for desert wildlife, and protects recreation areas on public land. In total, the plan identifies 5.3 million acres of lands for conservation.

The plan excludes renewable energy development from important recreation areas. It also provides conservation and management actions to minimize the impact of energy development and infrastructure on recreation areas.

A Finer Picture Will Help Prepare for Climate Extremes

The California Energy Commission, as part of a collaboration of university, government and private sector researchers has debuted a next-generation tool to examine how a changing climate will impact local regions from northern Mexico to southern Canada.

Global climate model representation of California elevations (left) compared to LOCA
The tool is a modeling dataset produced by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. The researchers developed a new climate “downscaling” method for global climate models known as localized constructed analogs (LOCA). Global climate model pixels can be a hundred miles across, which is too coarse to study local impacts of climate change. LOCA downscaling estimates finer-scale climate details by using a new high-resolution historical observation dataset.

The finer view has been used for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, the latest in a series of California state climate studies undertaken since 2006. The assessment relies on regionally specific climate projections to understand climate change impacts across the state. The Fourth Assessment, to be completed in 2018, will investigate implications of potential climate change on several sectors including energy, health, wildfire, water and other natural resources in California.

The datasets are available for public use. The LOCA data sets are used on the Energy Commission’s Cal-adapt website where one can explore projected changes in temperature and precipitation in a specific area over the coming century.

Energy Commission Workshop on Draft Study Looks at Barriers That Low-Income and Disadvantaged Communities Face

The California Energy Commission will hold a workshop to discuss a draft study that looks at the barriers that low-income and disadvantaged communities face when considering adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

The workshop, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on September 13, at the Energy Commission headquarters in Sacramento, will gather input on the draft Senate Bill 350 barriers study.

The draft study summarizes the barriers that low-income and disadvantaged communities face when looking at adopting energy efficiency and weatherization measures, installing renewable energy, and contracting opportunities for local small businesses. The study also highlights potential solutions to tackle those barriers.

Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller will preside over the workshop, which the other Energy Commissioners are scheduled to attend. Commissioners and executive officers from other agencies may also attend and participate in the meeting.

Under SB 350, the Legislature directed the Energy Commission to complete and publish the study by January 2017.

SB 350, which Governor Edmund Brown Jr. signed into law October 2015, established new energy efficiency and renewable electricity targets by 2030 to support California's long-term climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

SB 350 increases California’s renewable electricity procurement goal from 33 percent by 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. This will increase the use of Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) eligible resources, including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal. It also requires the state to double statewide energy efficiency savings in electricity and natural gas end uses by 2030.

The Energy Commission will take oral comments at the workshop. Written comments can be submitted until September 29.

More about the September 13 workshop can be found here. Fact sheets about the study are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog.

Celebrate National Drive Electric Week

National Drive Electric Week is a chance for those curious about making the switch to electric vehicles to get into the driver’s seat and test drive them.

This year’s events will be held from September 10 to 18 in some 200 cities in nearly every state, including California, in recognition of the widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and highlight the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

The United States will pass the milestone of 500,000 plug-in electric cars sold during the National Drive Electric Week. This rapid growth has come since the first modern plug-in cars - the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt- went on sale in 2010, according to National Drive Electric Week organizers.

Members of the public can test drive more than 20 electric vehicles on the market at this national celebration, which Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association organized in conjunction with many local partner groups.

The California Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) provides up to $100 million annually for technology to reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, curtail greenhouse gases and meet clean air standards. These projects reduce the state’s reliance on petroleum and helps California with its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

With transportation responsible for 37 percent of California’s greenhouse gases, making the transition to cleaner zero-emission vehicles is critical. For example, the the Energy Commission has awarded more than $51 million in grants for more than 8,500 electric vehicle charging connectors in California.

Energy Commission Signs Agreement with the Mexican State of Jalisco to Support Clean Energy

California Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the state of Jalisco to cooperate on clean energy policies and programs.

The agreement comes as Jalisco recently announced the creation of the Jalisco Energy Agency. Weisenmiller and Jalisco Governor Arist├│teles Sandoval signed the MOU on August 31 at the second annual Climate Summit of the Americas in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The agreement between the Energy Commission and Jalisco will support cooperation in areas of mutual interest, including energy efficiency, renewable energy development and grid integration, low and zero-emission vehicles, and clean energy technology.

“The California Energy Commission has been developing its relationship with Mexico over the last couple of years and this engagement is proving to be very productive,” Weisenmiller said. “The MOU will help to continue to build clean technology bridges between California and Mexico toward a low carbon future.

Since Mexico began energy reforms in 2013, Jalisco has worked to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition toward low-carbon energy resources. It was among the first 12 founding signatories to the Under 2 MOU, which is a global pact of subnational jurisdictions spearheaded by California and the German state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The agreement between the Energy Commission and Jalisco will help reach the objectives of the Under 2 MOU by providing a mechanism for cooperation, information sharing, and technical exchange. The Energy Commission will assist the Jalisco Energy Agency to develop a cohesive strategy and advance clean energy.

California represents only 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but its leadership demonstrates that it is possible to take action to reduce carbon emissions and grow the economy. California has signed several international MOUs as part of its ambitious goals to increase international collaboration on environmental protection and economic development.

In 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and the Mexican Ministry of Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell signed an agreement promoting cooperation between the two governments to implement programs in low-carbon energy, clean technologies, biofuels, and energy efficiency.

Palo Alto Reducing Carbon Footprint Through Electrification Efforts

For the city of Palo Alto, reducing the carbon footprint has a lot to do with electrifying its power sources and home water heating.

Palo Alto gets roughly 30 percent of its electricity from solar sources. The city is currently on track to source 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2017.

If the city meets that goal, it will beat the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard timeline target by 13 years.

That focus has allowed the city’s electricity supply to become 100 percent carbon neutral – a status the city earned in 2013.

City of Palo Alto resources planners Shiva Swaminathan and Christine Tam during a recent talk on electrification efforts in Palo Alto at the California Energy Commission.

The electrification effort, overseen by the utilities and development services departments at the city, includes promoting the adoption of home heat pump water heaters (HPWH) as a replacement option for natural gas water heaters.

“Palo Alto has established itself as a pioneer in the effort to promote electrification of appliances including converting gas water heaters to heat pump technology,” said California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

Natural gas usage and transportation account for more than 90 percent of the city’s carbon footprint. As a result, gas water heaters are seen as a promising target for electrification.

A HPWH operates like a refrigerator does – except run in reverse by transferring heat from the surrounding air to water.

Palo Alto has a HPWH pilot program that offers rebates of up to $1,500. The heaters also qualify for a $300 federal tax credit if they are ENERGY STAR certified.

Under the program, the city will track customer feedback on the retrofit process and how the heaters are performing.

The program is part of a larger electrification effort underway in Palo Alto, said Shiva Swaminathan, who is the project manager for Palo Alto's Smart Grid program.

He and HPWH pilot program manager Christine Tam talked about electrification and the HPWH effort at the Energy Commission on August 29.

It remains to be seen if HPWH will be widely adopted because of the high costs for homeowners.

A 50-gallon HPWH costs roughly $2,500. Installation or retrofits require a permit and hiring an electrician since the units need to be plugged into a 240 volt outlet.

Installing the units will lower homeowners’ natural gas bills, but increase their electric bills.