Energy Commission Project Helps Transform Existing Buses

Old transit buses are getting new lives thanks to a project the California Energy Commission is supporting.

Complete Coach Works (CCW) brought a repowered bus to the Energy Commission headquarters earlier this week so staff could view and ride one. The Zero-Emission Propulsion System (ZEPS) buses are all-electric and manufactured from existing buses to minimize emissions.

The company is a partner in a $2.7 million grant that the Energy Commission awarded to the City of Gardena's GTrans agency to conduct a battery-electric repower bus demonstration project on existing bus routes that serve economically disadvantaged communities in the city.

These buses are remanufactured in Riverside, California. The facility provides employment and 21st century skills training to “hard to employ” populations. CCW’s addition of the ZEPS product to its offerings has meant adding more than 50 employees.

The project is funded from the Energy Commission’s Alternative Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program 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.


Transit agencies have limited options for acquiring zero-emission buses since new battery-electric buses are expensive, costing as much as $1.2 million. One of GTrans’ priorities is repowering its existing fleet of gasoline-electric buses by 2022. The Energy Commission’s grant is enabling GTrans to evaluate a limited number of buses before committing to this technology for the remainder of the fleet.

Under the project, GTrans is repowering five transit buses and gathering economic and technical performance data that can be used to identify the challenges and solutions involved in deploying repowered buses. As of November, two of the buses will have undergone a complete overhaul at CCW’s Riverside facility and will be back in operation. Final delivery of all five buses will occur before the end of 2016.


It costs about $580,000 for CCW to refurbish each used transit bus into like-new vehicles with an all-electric powered drivetrain system. Doing so extends the service life of the buses to the same service life that a new bus would have while saving money in fuel and maintenance costs, according to the company.

CCW transforms them into ZEPS buses by dismantling the old ones to the chassis level and installing new parts and systems, including LED interior and exterior lighting, lightweight aluminum wheels, and composite flooring.

California Passes Halfway Mark On 50 Percent Renewable Energy Goal

California has passed the halfway point in meeting the goal of getting half of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030.

The California Energy Commission’s latest Tracking Progress update on renewables estimates that 26 percent of electricity retail sales came from renewable energy in 2015.

The retail sales figure was electricity delivered to residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers. The renewable energy in the estimate were wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydro sources.

The Tracking Progress report serves as a report card on California’s progress in meeting its Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals.

The RPS, which began in 2002, sets a series of goals for the sourcing of renewables. The original target mandated that 20 percent of electricity retail sales come from renewables by 2017 – a goal the state has already met.

Future RPS goals call for California to derive 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.

"This report shows California taking yet another step forward toward our common goal of reducing our reliance on polluting fossil fuels and building a clean energy future,” said Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

As of June, the in-state operating capacity of renewable resources was 23,600 megawatts (MW). Solar was the largest source of generating capacity (44 percent), followed by wind (25 percent), and geothermal (11 percent). The total capacity includes almost 4,600 MW of self-generation, about 4,400 MW of which is self-generation from solar photovoltaic (PV).

The growth of solar PV has been dramatic, and stems from Senate Bill 1, which was enacted 10 years ago and set the goal of installing 3,000 MW of solar self-generation photovoltaic systems by 2017. The state has already exceeded the goal, with about 2,000 MW installed just in 2014 and 2015.

Navy and Energy Commission Formalize Energy Partnership

The California Energy Commission and the Department of the Navy (DON) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide mutual support as Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state transition to alternative energy technologies.

Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment Dennis V. McGinn signed the agreement at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on Oct. 12. It formalizes the partnership and continues their longstanding collaboration on projects that provide energy security and reliability allowing for greater operational flexibility.

“California and the Navy are taking action to boost energy efficiency and curb our dependence on fossil fuels,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. “This agreement will help expand renewable energy at military bases and secure water supplies in the face of drought.”


The MOU helps implement some of the key recommendations made by the Governor’s Military Council last year. The recommendations aim to enhance the state’s defense and national security mission and its benefits to California’s economy and communities.

Energy is a critical component in sustaining DON’s mission readiness and maintaining its global presence. In 2009, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus set aggressive goals to transform DON’s energy use because of the strategic, economic and environmental threat posed by a continued dependence on fossil fuels alone. Since then, Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state have worked with the Energy Commission to increase energy efficiency measures and incorporate more alternative and renewable energy sources into operations.


"One of the three pillars critical to the Navy and Marine Corp's energy transformation is partnerships, like the strong and enduring one we have with the State of California," said McGinn. "Working together, we are using sustainable energy to increase the resiliency, energy and water security of our installations throughout California, while aiding the state's leadership in achieving its energy and environmental goals, for the benefit of all Californians."

Following the MOU signing, McGinn announced that the Navy and Marine Corps will lease 205 new electric vehicles for use at California installations. It is the largest integration of electric vehicles in the federal government. He also announced that solar energy projects will be installed at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach and at Naval Base Ventura County. The Lemoore project is the largest photovoltaic facility on Department of Defense land, while the Seal Beach and Ventura County projects will include battery storage.

Navy Helms Effort to Reduce Fossil Fuel Use at Shore Installations

The Navy has a language all of its own. For instance, the word “trim,” as in “trim the sails,” means to make them more efficient at capturing wind.

There aren’t many sails to trim in today’s Navy, but the service is still capturing wind…and the sun, and other sources of renewable energy as it pursues a goal to produce at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources and procure one gigawatt of renewable energy generation capacity by 2020.

The goals are part of the Department of the Navy’s (DON) commitment to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of alternative energy as a way to increase combat capability and mitigate the risks posed by vulnerable fossil fuel-based energy supplies.

Energy bills are the single largest cost for Navy installations, reflecting about 28 percent of Navy’s shore budget. To help trim costs, the Navy and the California Energy Commission have been working together for years to develop and implement energy efficiency technologies at shore facilities in the state.

Research has been conducted at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake on a high-efficiency rooftop heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC) system that can operate in a desert environment and at Naval Base San Diego on ways to improve lighting and HVAC systems there.

But, saving energy is only part of DON’s plan. It is also interested in generating clean energy. The department currently produces about 12 percent of its energy from renewable sources like the 1.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbine at Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, which generates enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes annually. In 2014, the DON signed a contract to have rooftop solar installed on almost 6,000 Navy and Marine family housing units in San Diego.

DON has also invested in large-scale generation projects such as a 210-MW solar facility in Arizona that will provide about a third of the energy needed to support 14 Navy and Marine Corps installations in California. It also manages a 270-MW geothermal power plant at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake that adds 1.4 million-MW hours of electricity to the California power grid annually, enough power for 180,000 homes.

The California Energy Commission and the Department of the Navy will meet at Stanford University Oct. 12 to formalize their ongoing partnership that will help Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state transition to renewable energy alternatives to meet California and the Department of Defense climate and energy goals.

Navy Fathoms the Possibilities of Biofuels

When the U.S. Navy was established in 1775, its success on the seas depended largely on a renewable energy source – wind. Since then, the Navy has seen coal, steam, diesel and nuclear energy power its vessels. And now, it is weighing anchor on a new source – advanced biofuels.

Advanced biofuels are energy sources derived from a wide range of waste-based materials such as animal manure, food wastes, agricultural and forest wastes, municipal solid waste and crops like algae, corn, and sugar beets.

The Navy recognizes energy security as a national security issue and has set aggressive goals to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. One way to meet those goals is using alternative fuels. In 2012, it launched its Great Green Fleet initiative demonstrating the effectiveness of alternative fuel blends during a large-scale exercise in the Pacific Ocean. The service upped the ante in January, sending the John C. Stennis strike group on a seven-month deployment with several ships – the guided-missile destroyers Chung-Hoon, Stockdale and William P. Lawrence, and guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay – operating on an alternative fuel made from 10 percent beef tallow and 90 percent marine diesel.

The Navy says that diversifying its energy sources increases the operational flexibility of its ships and strengthens their ability to provide a global presence.

The Navy’s interest in advanced biofuels to support its operations goes back years. In 2003, the Navy entered a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Biodico, a company that specializes in the design, production and operation of sustainable biorefineries. The collaboration expanded in 2012, when the Navy, supported by the California Energy Commission, entered into a new agreement with Biodico to develop and evaluate advanced biofuels and bioenergy.

Recently, the Navy and Energy Commission helped fund Biodico’s Westside’s new facility in Five Points, CA. It is the world’s first fully sustainable liquid biofuel facility and will produce up to 20 million gallons of biodiesel per year.

The California Energy Commission and the Department of the Navy will meet at Stanford University Oct. 12 to formalize their ongoing partnership that will help Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state transition to renewable energy alternatives to meet California and the Department of Defense climate and energy goals.

Energy Commission Helps Crimson Renewable Energy Facility With Expansion

The recent expansion of Crimson Renewable Energy’s ultra-low carbon biodiesel production facility leads to a tripling of production and puts Kern County on the map as California’s leading producer of advanced biofuels.

That was the announcement made today at an event unveiling the newly revamped facility. The company showcased its expanded facility, which serves as a model for how renewable fuel production in California is creating green jobs, supporting the local economy, reducing greenhouse gases, and improving California’s air quality.

“We are thrilled to be in the forefront of the green energy economy,” said Harry Simpson, the company’s president and CEO. “With our expanded plant, Crimson is playing a major role in meeting the state’s growing demand for advanced biofuels and helping California achieve its carbon reduction and clean air goals while making a large positive contribution to the state’s economy.”

Crimson recently completed a multi-million dollar plant upgrade that was partially funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Alternative Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program 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.

“Transitioning to cleaner, low carbon fuels is a key component for California to achieve our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, improve our air quality and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Energy Commissioner Janea A. Scott, who attended the event and toured the facility. “The Energy Commission is pleased to invest in projects like Crimson Renewable Energy’s biofuels project that will produce some 24 million gallons of low carbon fuel annually.”

The upgrades included expansion of steam and other existing systems as well as the installation of new second generation systems, which will enable the plant to reduce energy consumption and water consumption by 10 to 15 percent. The plant is now ramping up to its new full production level of 24 million gallons annually of ultra-low carbon biodiesel fuel made entirely from used cooking oils and other inedible raw materials.

“Our current production level generates carbon reductions that are equivalent to taking 43,000 cars off California roads and as we ramp up, this will be like removing 55,500 cars,” Simpson said. “The success of our facility is a prime example of why it is critical for the public and state’s policymakers to continue supporting the development of renewable transportation fuels, particularly ultra-low carbon advanced biofuels.”

Navy Abandons Water in Test to Clean Military Ballistic Field Gear

Ballistic vests are a must-have item for Navy Seabees whose missions tend to put them in harm’s way. The vests are lifesavers designed to handle projectiles and shrapnel but, ironically, they can’t handle water, which means they are difficult to clean. But the California Energy Commission and U.S. Navy are collaborating on a project that could change that.

In 2015, the Energy Commission awarded a $900,000 grant to Tersus Solutions to demonstrate a laundry process that uses liquid carbon dioxide instead of water to clean uniforms and gear used by the armed forces and first responders.

The year-long demonstration is being held at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, where Tersus Solutions built a full-scale laundry to evaluate the technology’s ability to clean and decontaminate a variety of items such as Kevlar ballistic vests, flame resistant garments, sleeping bags, tents and field gear. The initial evaluation will be for the Seabee battle gear, but a wide variety of operational fabrics and garments used by troops will be tested and evaluated.

Water-based cleaning methods can compromise the protective capabilities of fabrics used for combat and emergency gear. The Tersus process uses carbon dioxide, an abundant and naturally occurring gas. When put under high pressure and temperature, it becomes a fluid with solvent properties similar to liquids. Once depressurized, it returns to its gaseous state, leaving items not only clean, but dry. The carbon dioxide is retained, filtered and ready for the next load.

The demonstration will highlight the system’s cleaning performance, reliability, energy savings, water savings and operating costs compared to current laundry methods. Tersus says it expects to reduce water use by 98 percent, energy costs by about 50 percent and overall operating costs by 30 to 60 percent.

The California Energy Commission and the Department of the Navy will meet at Stanford University Oct. 12 to formalize their ongoing partnership that will help Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state transition to renewable energy alternatives to meet California and the Department of Defense climate and energy goals.

Marines Enlist Microgrid Technology to Provide Cover During Power Outages

To meet any contingency, threat or challenge that might arise, the United States Navy conducts live exercises to ensure it is well prepared to respond to "real world" situations. Some involve battle scenarios; some move sailors, Marines and materials halfway around the world; and some focus on disaster relief.

But the Navy also conducts exercises to ensure mission readiness is maintained should the normal energy supply be disrupted, and increasingly, the service is turning to renewable energy.

For several years, the Navy and Marines have been investing in innovative clean energy technologies as part of what it calls energy assurance – on-demand independent and sustained power to maintain critical and support operations at fixed locations, forward operating bases and remote locations.

Once such test of the technology came a few months ago when Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar held a six-hour exercise to determine if clean energy technology could adequately fill the power gap if the electrical grid went down. Its public works building was disconnected from the local utility, but operations continued as normal powered by the installation’s microgrid system funded in part by the California Energy Commission.

Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems that provide and manage power independent of the larger electric grid. They are being used worldwide to support facilities with critical energy needs like hospitals, industrial complexes, university campuses and now, military installations. Miramar’s system consists of a 230-killowatt solar panel array and a series of refrigerator-sized battery modules housed in large, stackable shipping containers.

The Energy Commission has also funded microgrid projects at Twentynine Palms Marine Base in San Bernardino County and Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

The California Energy Commission and the Department of the Navy will meet at Stanford University Oct. 12 to formalize their ongoing partnership that will help Navy and Marine Corps installations in the state transition to renewable energy alternatives to meet California and the Department of Defense climate and energy goals.