California is full of clean energy success stories! Click on the headline below to read the full story.
100 MPG: CalCars and the beauty of high-mileage ideas
To see the future of the American automobile, take a spin down to Corte Madera, California, and introduce yourself to the CalCars boys.
This group of rebels met one sunny day in April 2004 in the garage of a typical condominium ten miles north of the Golden Gate, determined to roll out a car that could be “fueled” by plugging it into a wall at night with a standard extension cord and run on gas when needed. It was a Toyota Prius when they started and a symbol of an American revolution in automobiles when they finished.
Bay Area Partnership Spurs Energy and Good Jobs
Two key players in the Bay Area are working together to increase solar energy generation, both locally and throughout the state. Solar Richmond, a nonprofit founded in 2006, focuses on the solar sector’s potential to create jobs and provides green-collar job training for Richmond residents seeking careers in solar energy. Solar Richmond has helped reduce pollution and violence in a city that suffers from both, and the organization is preparing Richmond residents for jobs in solar energy so that they can compete in the new, clean energy economy.
Blythe Solar Plant Signifies Bright Energy Future for CA
On Dec. 21, 2009, the largest thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in the United States began its commercial operations in little-known Blythe, Calif. The new facility – located roughly 200 miles southeast of Los Angeles in Riverside County – was developed by Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, Inc. and purchased by NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc. The Blythe facility will help California meet its goal of generating 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Southern California Edison estimates that the 21-megawatt (MW) plant will power nearly 17,000 homes.
While California continues to struggle with rising unemployment, the construction of the Blythe facility was a boon for local workers, employing 296 union members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 440 over the course of three months.
California Brings Green Job Training to High Schools
The campus of Oakland Tech High School in Oakland, Calif., is quiet now that summer has officially arrived. But in early June, it buzzed with activity as seniors prepared to graduate, other students submitted their final projects, and the maiden class of the school’s new “Green Academy” wrapped up its first year.
LA Apollo Helps City Adopt Landmark Green Jobs Ordinance
Los Angeles made green history on April 8 when its City Council approved a first-in-the-nation plan to create jobs, cut carbon emissions, and revitalize the inner city. The council voted to support a green retrofit of city buildings that will create hundreds of new jobs at a time when Angelenos are confronting 11 percent unemployment, and federal officials are looking to cities and states for “shovel ready” projects to boost the economy.
Los Angeles Clean Ports Program Benefits Environment, Workers and Local Community, as it Creates Demand for Clean Trucks
Up until 2008, diesel exhaust pollution from trucks and other vehicles at the Port of Los Angeles was so severe that it threatened the health local residents as well as truck drivers. But, thanks to the adoption of a visionary Clean Air Action Plan in late 2006 and the hard work of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, an alliance of labor unions, environmental organizations and community groups, the Port of L.A. can now boast that it has the most successful clean truck program in the country. As Fred Potter, a vice president at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, testified to Congress in May, “The results are undeniable. The Port of Los Angeles’ comprehensive Clean Truck Program is the only approach that has transformed a local port fleet, bringing thousands of brand new cleaner trucks into service, and simultaneously lifting drivers’ economic circumstances up.”
Marin City’s Green Energy Training Initiative
The Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) this spring launched the Green Energy Empowerment program, a training initiative designed to help underserved residents find employment in green-collar jobs. The first phase of the project is a comprehensive effort to free 100 target families and dozens of at-risk youth in Marin City from the cycle of poverty though career development, skills training, and job placement in the clean energy field.
“The goal of our program is for participants to find jobs in the green-collar sector with opportunities for advancement and further training,” said MCCDC executive director Makini Hassan.
Oakland Green Jobs Corps Graduates First Class
On June 22, 2009, 42 members of the Oakland Green Jobs Corps’ first graduating class stood proudly before an audience of friends, family and media. “You are on the cutting edge of the training that will save the planet,” said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, amid enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.
The Oakland Green Jobs Corps is among the first training programs of its kind. The Green Jobs Corps was developed and proposed by the Oakland Apollo Alliance, a local partnership of business, labor, community groups, and workforce development programs convened by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and IBEW Local 595.
Pushed by State, California Utilities Seek Clean Energy
The lessons from California are that making the switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy takes time, but also produces real gains for the economy, jobs, and the environment, say business and utility executives. The California record on renewable energy also suggests that a strong government role in mandating, overseeing, and collaborating with businesses to install the new sources of energy is essential.
Here in Sacramento, and in other California cities, utility executives and city leaders said they anticipated the consequences of failing to react to long-term trends in energy costs, environmental conditions, population growth, and job forecasts. Instead of digging in and defending existing technology and ways of doing business – as many states in the Midwest and South are doing — they reached agreement on collaborating with each other, and the state of California to pursue a economic path powered by clean energy.
Recology Pursues Zero-Waste in Bay Area
San Francisco-based Recology is the national leader in helping American cities draw ever closer to becoming zero-waste communities. With the company’s guidance, San Francisco has achieved a recycling rate of 72 percent, the highest in the nation.
Recology, which until this spring was known as Norcal, has also been a boon to workers. When San Francisco donated the land now occupied by Recycle Central, Recology’s state-of-the art recycling center at Candlestick Point, the city required that any company bidding for the site recognize a union that signed up a majority of the workers. The winning company also needed to hire residents from three of the city’s most economically distressed neighborhoods, including those near Candlestick Point.
San Diego Creates Green Pathways Out of Poverty
The Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (MAAC) Project, a San Diego-based organization that promotes self-sufficiency for low- and moderate-income families in Southern California, recently launched the Green Careers in Weatherization program with support from the Recovery Act. The goal of this new program is to provide not just weatherization training, but access to career pathways in the construction sector for low- and moderate-income residents. Through partnerships with local labor unions, Green Careers in Weatherization combines on-the-job training with support and job placement services.
“Weatherization programs operated by MAAC have attracted a lot attention nationally…as a platform for on-the-job training for green career paths,” said MAAC’s chief operating officer, Arnulfo Manriquez.
Stephanie Skubiak Sees Insulation Work Heating Up As California Goes Green
Stephanie Skubiak used to be a bookkeeper. But she hated sitting at a desk all day long and didn’t like the size of her paycheck either. So Skubiak enrolled in an apprenticeship program to learn how to become an insulator. Thousands of hours of classroom time and paid on-the-job training later, she is now a worker in the green economy.
Stockton Biodiesel Plant Poised To Expand
Community Fuels operates a processing facility in Stockton, California with a capacity of 10 million gallons. Mortenson wants to double the plant’s capacity, but she needs access to capital to invest in expansion. The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed by President Obama on February 17, includes $6 billion to support loan guarantees for renewable energy and electric transmission technologies. The funds are expected to guarantee more than $60 billion in loans, according to the Energy Department. The new law also requires the DOE Loan Guarantee Program to only make loan guarantees to projects that will start construction by September 30, 2011, and that involve renewable energy, electric transmission, or leading-edge biofuel technologies.
Talk About a Window of Opportunity
In December 2008, when 260 members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 1110 lost their jobs at Republic Windows and Doors, workers mounted a quiet but exceptionally effective resistance. Scores of them, working in shifts, calmly occupied the Chicago-based manufacturer for six days, asserting that they had the right under law to receive vacation and severance benefits.
The peaceful protest drew international media attention. It also attracted the interest of Kevin Surace, the chief executive officer of Serious Materials, a Sunnyvale, California-based manufacturer of ultra energy efficient windows. Surace was busy scrubbing the country for window manufacturing plants to buy, anticipating that the new administration and Congress would enact a big economic stimulus bill that included considerable investment in weatherization and energy efficiency.
Tanya Pitts Sees a Well-Lit Career Path in Advanced Lighting
An increasing number of commercial buildings owners in California are employing energy-efficient lighting techniques to save money and reduce their buildings’ energy usage. Their actions are being spurred on by regulations like California’s Title 24 energy efficiency standard, incentives from utility companies like PG&E, and the increasing cost of electricity in California during peak hours.
All of this means more work for people like Tanya Pitts—a 32-year-old electrician from Oakland who’s certified in advanced lighting controls.