High Performance Schools
San Gabriel Valley Partnership
An Energy Wise Future for Thirty Southland
By Lisa Lilienthal
It's the home of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, Cal Tech and
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Now the San Gabriel Valley is about to
add another feather to its cap, as 30 of the region's cities have united
Southern California Association of Governments
San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments
Southern California Edison to form the "San
Gabriel Valley Energy Wise Partnership."
The partnership was created in response to the California Public Utilities
Commission's 2005 decision to invest $3 billion in energy efficiency
studies. It began officially in March and is off to a running start.
SCAG is the
largest of nearly 700
councils of government in the
encompassing a population exceeding 18 million people and over 38,000
square miles. SGVCOG advocates to improve the quality of life for 30
cities in the Valley, and SCE, one of the nation's largest electric
utilities, offers customers more alternative and renewable energy (17.7
percent), from a greater variety of resources, than nearly any other
utility in the world.
According to Brad Bergman, senior project manager for the
Intergy Corporation, a facilitator of the
partnership, the ambitious plans center around a goal to reduce annual
energy usage in the valley by nearly 3 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) by the
end of 2008. Through a combination of outreach programs to local
governments, business and residents, training and technical assistance,
the partnership aims to realign the region's infrastructure towards
sustainable, comprehensive, long-term solutions.
"We've already identified 2.5 million kWh in savings projects that should
be completed by the end of 2007," said Bergman. He admits that the first
projects in the pipeline are the ‘low hanging fruit' – or the projects for
which there is a quick and easy fix; projects to replace inefficient
lighting or antiquated HVAC systems in municipal facilities. However, the
cumulative impact of that low hanging fruit is enough to bring the
partnership close to its goal, one year ahead of schedule. And, it
provides an incentive for more far-reaching programs aimed at helping
these California cities improve their energy profile and their bottom
are very enthusiastic about ideas that benefit the environment and the
community," said Bergman. "But sometimes there is difficulty in finding
the funding to get it all done." That's where the partnership comes in.
Southern California Edison's investment is a rebate of $.10/kWh for
lighting projects and $.14/kWh for HVAC projects. Due to the longer
payback of HVAC projects, the rebate is higher. And the California Energy
Commission has a special,
low cost loan program that helps cities
bear the financial burden.
The incentives are working. The
City of West Covina is upgrading HVAC
systems at the city hall and police department with two new chillers
which, according to Public Works Project Supervisor Mike Shott, should
save 400,000 kWh annually and shave about $100,000 off the city's annual
electric bill. "At that rate, the project will pay for itself in about
seven years," said Shott.
Financed with a 15-year loan from the California Energy Commission with a
low 3.95 percent interest rate, the project is nearing completion.
Following close on its heels is an RFP that Shott is about to issue for
250 megawatts of solar power.
City of Alhambra is investing in a
comprehensive retrofit of its city hall and police department
headquarters, having identified potential savings of 861,000 kWh and
annual savings of $163,000. The $512,000 price tag might have been hard
for the city to justify, but the partnership rebates make it achievable.
In addition to identifying quick fix projects that qualify for the utility
rebate, the partnership is committed to targeting two to three cities in
the region for a comprehensive city facility energy efficiency project
analysis – an audit with technical and financial analysis on how the city
can make short and long term investments that will reap big pay offs in
Energy action plans for these cities will explore tried and true
technologies like solar and
demand response, while more cutting edge
solutions such as
self generation strategies will also be
The short list of cities who may qualify for the comprehensive audit
La Canada and
Flintridge. "We'll finalize the list of
cities by the end of July and complete energy action plans by the end of
2008," said Bergman. "The goal is for these cities to become not only a
model but a roadmap for the rest of the cities in the region."