We commend our local heroes going above and beyond and trailblazing clean energy and sustainability efforts. Each month we choose a business, organization or resident and share their Clean energy Hero journey.
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July 2020 – Taylor Farms North America’s leading producer of salads and healthy fresh foods, has long been a champion of sustainability within the agricultural industry and that’s why MBCP staff has chosen them to be our Clean Energy Hero this month.Through renewable energy, resource conservation and innovative zero waste programs, Taylor Farms is raising industry standards to preserve a healthier world for future generations.
Founder and CEO of Taylor Farms for 25 years, Bruce Taylor is a 4th generation local in the Salinas Valley. In his words, “We are proud that Taylor Farms is at the forefront of developing and identifying sustainability practices that are breaking down barriers and establishing new norms within the industry. Consumers should be confident that our product offerings are helping them to lead healthy lives while contributing to a healthy environment and healthy communities.”
Taylor Farms has received the U.S. Green Building Council TRUE Platinum Zero Waste Certification at three facilities in California while simultaneously achieving 90% energy independence from the utility grid through unique microgrid solutions. Together, their suite of investments and programs reduced 175,000 metric tons (MT) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in just two years, equivalent to taking 37,000 cars off the road annually.
Taylor Farms currently utilizes four different types of renewable and alternative energy systems to power their operations with clean energy: solar, wind, fuel cells and co-generation. In collaboration with local and national energy developers such as Concentric Power, Bloom Energy, REC Solar and Foundation Wind Power, Taylor Farms’ energy investments and their push for transformative policy changes have made it possible to reduce the environmental impact while also paving the way for others to adopt energy and sustainability practices. Taylor Farms recognizes that energy independence is vital for the operation, livelihood and well-being of their company, employees, and community.
Quincie Gourley, Taylor Farms Marketing Coordinator from Salinas, is most proud of the relationship Taylor Farms has with the city of Gonzalez and promoting sustainability. MBCP commends Taylor Farms’ leadership in giving back to the community and creating opportunities for our local community to flourish. It is incredible to see one of MBCP’s key customers as a leading example of an industry that continues to put sustainability at the forefront of its efforts.
If you would like to learn more about Taylor Farms and be updated on their sustainability announcements, visit their website here and follow @yourtaylorfarms on Instagram.
National Energy Education Development, NEED Project
June 2020 – The nonprofit National Energy Education Development, or NEED project, deserves recognition for its 40 years of incredible work surrounding energy education for K-12 students. The NEED project was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to creating an energy literate society by providing teachers, students and parents with free energy curriculum materials, high quality hands-on kits, and free teacher workshops.
Barry Scott, the NEED Project’s California State Program Director, is responsible for delivering educational programs for energy sector partners, conducting hands-on workshops, and providing guidance to teachers and students engaged in energy studies and pursuing careers in the energy and environment sectors.
Mr. Scott summed up the NEED Project’s core principles during our conversation,
“We make teaching energy easy by providing the materials and training needed at no cost to the teachers. Then the teachers train their students to be experts who can help their parents and friends understand energy and how important it is to use energy wisely.”
These educational programs have achieved tremendous milestones that have reached underserved communities and communities in despair. They implemented a high school energy career pathway programs at Arroyo Grande High School and a Solar Suitcase training program that sent Salinas High School teacher Philip Deutschle and two students to Kenya to deliver solar power to a community without electricity.
In addition, NEED Project responded to the needs of Paradise, CA, one month after the tragic Camp Fire to provide hands-on wind turbine building lessons to students at two schools, Evergreen 6th Grade Academy and Paradise Charter Middle School. The following spring, Barry went with a team of Evergreen students and their teacher, Greg Holman, to compete in the national KidWind competition in Houston.
In the wake of school closures, NEED has expanded its portfolio of distance learning resources and begun offering workshops online. Since schools closures began in March, Barry has been sharing NEED’s online materials, using Zoom to attend meetings with school districts, industry partners, and participate with teachers and students as they meet online. Looking ahead, Barry anticipates continued demand for teachers to have access to engaging STEM activities and a growing need for connecting students to the topics of energy generation, energy conservation and efficiency. Many teachers feel that online learning is going to become a permanent part of instruction this fall and beyond. For Central Coast schools, it is a perfect time to include energy awareness and conservation in K-12 school curriculum.
We can agree that Barry’s efforts and passion to make energy education development free and accessible, are what make him our June Clean Energy Hero . To contact Barry Scott for suggestions on how to energize your classroom, send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit need.org to look through their incredible initiatives.
Regeneración Pajaro Valley Climate Action
May 2020 – Regeneración Pajarao Valley Climate Action deserves a spotlight for their wonderful work toward a local response for global climate change.
Regeneración increases farmworker’s safety while bringing to light the locally experienced effects of climate change for the Pajaro Valley. One of Regeneración’s most impactful initiatives is their Heat Stress Awareness Campaign. Aimed at educating farm workers and others who work outdoors about what they can do to reduce heat stress illness as temperatures continue to rise, this initiative also makes the connection to climate change and highlights what steps the farming community can take towards reversing the effects of climate change.
Nancy Faulstich, Regeneración Director shared this inspiring message with MBCP: “I’m very hopeful about the opportunity to set past and present wrongs right that the climate emergency presents to us. It’s become quite clear that preserving a livable planet depends on ending oppressive, profit-driven societies including the many ways that humans mistreat other humans and other life forms. It’s also clear that no other species will be able to undo the damage and chart a sustainable path forward. So, for people who always hoped they could make a difference to others and lead a meaningful life – we can! We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!
Outcomes for humanity for thousands of years to come literally depend on what we do in the next few years. It’s an awesome challenge, and I believe we have what we need to succeed.”
MBCP applauds Nancy and the team at Regeneración Pajaro Valley for the important work they are doing to address climate change and support our region’s farm workers. This yet another example of the many ways that climate change is affecting our lives, and the ways that community leaders are inspiring others to get involved.
California Green Business Network
April 2020 – For Earth Month we thought it would be fitting to name the California Green Business Network our Clean Energy Hero of the month!
The California Green Business Network leads the state in working with hard-to-reach businesses to create a vibrant, green economy. Since 1996, the Network has offered economic incentives and technical assistance to help businesses owners make lasting changes that improve their bottom line, protect the environment, expand the workforce and provide a green marketplace for consumers.
Did you know the California Green Business Network pays the difference between our default carbon-free service offering, MBchoice and our 100% renewable service offering, MBprime for eligible customers?
You may be able to support 100% renewable energy through our MBpime service offering and be reimbursed for it through the California Green Business Network as you become a certified green business!
Meet Our Latest E-Bike Winner, Gabrielle Davila of Marina!
March 2020 -We’re delighted to announce our latest e-bike winner, Gabrielle Davila of Marina! Davila is a current student at California State University Monterey Bay who helps connect students and community members to meaningful careers as Monterey Bay Economic Partnership’s (MBEP) Workforce Development Associate.
Work and school don’t deter this full time mom from incorporating sustainability into her family’s active lifestyle.
Davila commutes to CSUMB by bus to minimize traffic, occupied parking spaces, and carbon emissions (when there is no shelter in place of course). Other trips are completed in her family’s trusty Prius hybrid.
Davila’s job is mostly done from home, where she actively reduces landfill waste by composting. Since winning her Trek e-bike, purchased from Epicenter Cycling, she’s taken it step further with her school commute.
Davila commented, “It’s been extremely helpful with the recent construction on campus. I haven’t had to worry about any delays in traffic with my new bike. Thank you, Monterey Bay Community Power, for working hard to procure carbon-free and renewable energy on behalf of our region. As the lucky e-bike winner, I can contribute to a healthy planet while promoting a cleaner method of transportation!”
Monterey County's Santa Rita Union School District
January 2020 – The Santa Rita Union School District (SRUSD), serving an estimated 3,405 students from Preschool through Eighth grade in the Salinas Valley, is home to the nation’s first carbon-free microgrid. Their energy-resilient system designed to better support their students’ health and education goes beyond the school yard – all six campuses fitted with solar plus battery storage make SRUSD the nation’s first Powered Emergency Response Center (PERC).
“California school districts face extremely challenging budgeting situations and any reduction in operational expenses can directly translate into money for teachers, books, or supplies,” commented SRUSD’s superintendent, Dr. Shelly Morr, in a recent Businesswire press release.
“It’s also important for our community that schools aren’t impacted by events such as power outages as this disrupts not only the school day, but parents having to leave work early to scramble to make other arrangements for their children. We’re excited to see these clean energy systems implemented on our school campuses.”
The district-wide renewable project went live in May of 2018 with EcoMotion’s vision and funding made possible through Generate Capital. Photovoltaic car ports and rooftop solar provide SRUSD with 1 megawatt of clean energy, plus ample shade for cars and student lunch shelters. To island the district from the grid entirely, solar is backed with 1.1 megawatt hours of backup battery storage. Each campus can operate for 7 hours with just one sun-harvested charge, acting as a community PERC for decades to come while eliminating extraordinary masses of greenhouse gas emissions.
Shortly after their microgrid went live, SRUSD partnered with Clear Blue Energy Corp. to replace all indoor and outdoor fluorescent light fixtures with bright LED alternatives through Proposition 39, California’s Clean Energy Jobs Act. Smart thermostats were incorporated, making HVAC classroom controls programmable to school schedules, sending alerts if there are any discrepancies to set parameters.
As the first PERC and 100% carbon-free school district, it’s no surprise that SRUSD was the nation’s first to adopt an all-electric school bus. The eLion, funded by a Monterey Bay Air Resources District (MBARD) grant, can go 100 miles per charge and seats up to 64 passengers. This ambitious technology will save the district over $10,000 in annual transportation costs in addition to toxic diesel emissions, improving local air quality and student health.
“We were already doing some environmental things anyway and this just dovetailed with it as well as looking at the next generation of science standards,” said Morr in the Californian’s First Electric School Bus Arrives in Monterey County. “Our robotics, engineering labs, science garden, it just all came together at the same time. It made sense.”
A fully resilient campus inclusive of a fossil fuel free microgrid, Level 2 EV charging stations, PERC, smart thermostats and energy efficient lighting are what make Santa Rita Union School District our January Clean Energy Hero. By accomplishing what many view as the impossible, SRUSD proves that with time and in-depth research, we can all empower our communities and youth with sustainable energy solutions.
Meet Sara Steiner, San Benito County's 1st MBprime Adopter
December 2019 – Choosing 100% renewable electricity a decade, or even three years ago, wasn’t possible without the installation of solar. Even then, you had to do the groundwork to find an experienced solar contractor, fully invest in unfamiliar technology, then finally initiate installation. San Benito County’s Sara Steiner was one of the early adopters of renewable energy.
“I purchased solar in 2001 after Enron happened. I decided that this was the time we needed to transition,” said Steiner. “There were far and few contractors at that time since solar was still pretty new. It was a huge learning experience for me.”
Almost nineteen years later, Steiner continues to pave the way as a leader in sustainability. Her five-acre property in the beautiful Cienga Valley is home to an acre of herbs, all local to the area and grown organically. She enjoys making customized teas based on taste for friends and herself, with an array of herbs that work alongside her solar system to absorb carbon from the atmosphere further.
Steiner continued her sustainable journey by making the switch to renewable transportation. In addition to her Hollister home, Steiner drives an all-electric Chevy Bolt charged predominately from sunshine. When the sun isn’t out and her electricity needs depend on the grid, Steiner chooses to support renewable energy sourced solely from wind and solar through MBCP’s MBPrime .
As a pioneer of green technology, it’s no surprise that Sara Steiner was the first San Benito County resident to opt-up to MBPrime. Without any advertising, Steiner learned about this 100% renewable service offering by attending local city council meetings.
Steiner believes that sustainability and energy resiliency goes beyond purchase power. She serves on the board of the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust, a small non-profit that relies on community funding and grants to support the county’s extensive agricultural community and environment. Steiner also serves on the Board of Cienga Union School District and works with San Benito County’s Amateur Radio Association.
“If you want change, you have to think globally and act locally. It may feel like a small drop in the pond, but community action can really make a difference.”
We can agree that Sara’s efforts and passion for clean energy and her community, are what make her our December Clean Energy Hero . To learn more about MBPrime and how you can opt-up to our 100% renewable service offering, click here.
Sandbar Solar & Electric Proves Resiliency Has No Limits
November 2019 – A drive down Santa Cruz’s Mission Street normally consists of a steady stream of power lines and warehouses. But somewhere in between stands a vibrant blue building void of any connection to the power grid; no wires, cables, or meter in sight.
Sandbar Solar & Electric’s new headquarters is the first of it’s kind in Santa Cruz County. Their 11,500 square foot commercial building runs solely off of sunshine, battery storage, and on occasion, a backup generator. To power such a large space, Sandbar Solar & Electric developed and constructed an advanced microgrid system that incorporates 60KW of rooftop solar, three Avalon flow batteries supplying 30KW of electricity, two Ideal power inverters, an Ageto control system (the mind and body of the microgrid), and a 60KW natural gas backup generator.
Solar panels supply 95% of Sandbar Solar & Electric’s electricity needs. When the sun is out, their headquarters are powered entirely by solar which then feeds the batteries enough electricity to power the building throughout the night and majority of the next day.
Since adopting their new microgrid system in November of 2018, the solar and electric company has only needed to run their generator for 300 hours, or 13 days. This occurs when rain or heavy clouds are present, but when energy needs aren’t dire, their system allows them to turn off the generator with the push of a button. Sandbar Solar & Electric worked with Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District to adopt a Prime power generator that abides by California’s Clean Air Act, reducing emissions significantly compared to a conventional diesel generator.
According to Sandbar Solar & Electric’s Electrical & Solar Contractor, Cale Garamendi, “A true microgrid that provides resiliency incorporates a generator, but doesn’t depend on it entirely. If you only have a backup generator and you go to turn on a light that uses 100 watts of electricity, there’s massive amounts of fuel being burned and it’s inefficient. Solar combined with battery storage and a generator gives you that peace of mind. If there’s a seismic event, we can depend on solar and battery storage. If there’s a hiccup in firmware, software, or the system needs repairs, we can rely on the generator.”
You might expect a building sustained by a microgrid to be pretty dim. On the contrary, walking through the facility feels bright and eerily normal. A warehouse is fully lit. An upstairs office equipped with a full blown server room is filled with staff working away on their desktops. There’s an electric room, but no electric equipment.
Garamendi says, “We’re not cutting corners on what we do here as a result of having a building powered off a microgrid. The system allows us to be more mindful of our energy consumption because it’s finite.”
Annually, Sandbar Solar & Electric uses about 40,000KW of electricity. By disconnecting from the grid and creating their own resilient power supply, they’ve managed to save 28 metric tons of greenhouse gasses from being emitted into the atmosphere. This mindful approach and sustainable business practice are what make Sandbar Solar & Electric our November Clean Energy Hero.
San Benito Health Foundation Brings Energy Resiliency to its Critical Facility
October 2019 – Public Safety Power Shutoffs are upon us and affected healthcare facilities could face complications powering vital equipment and accessing digital medical records. Hollister’s San Benito Health Foundation has a plan to overcome these challenges and they are putting it into action.
What started as a trip abroad has now evolved into local energy resiliency for a critical community facility. Rosa Vivian Fernández, San Benito Health Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer of fourteen years, experienced the detriments of prolonged power outages firsthand when she visited Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Community health centers lost power for weeks, even months, unable to provide treatment to patients who depend on dialysis, oxygen, or simply medications requiring refrigeration.
“I saw families devastated and without access to basic services and needs. I told myself I would never let that happen to the people who depend on SBHF. I also wanted to find a way for my organization to have a positive impact for our climate,” Fernández said in MBEP Member Spotlight: San Benito Foundation Invests in Preparedness, Sustainability.
SBHF, a nonprofit community healthcare organization, has provided an array of medical and dental services since 1975 to the San Benito County community, regardless of any patient’s ability to pay. This year, they’ve officially gone off the grid to become California’s first 100% carbon-neutral healthcare facility.
Fernandez’s vision became possible with assistance from Greenpower , a nonprofit empowering communities with planet-friendly energy. Their partnership resulted in a 120-panel solar array with backup battery storage as well as an eco-friendly bio-ethanol generator fueled by compost. Combined, the solar power, battery and generator work in harmony to create an island of local power sources and power storage known as a microgrid, allowing the facility to fully operate for up to 10 days without electricity from the grid. It eliminates the need for high stakes power triage decisions and is projected to save the foundation sixty thousand dollars annually.
Microgrids arm communities with infrastructure that is proven to offset carbon-emissions and save money but most importantly, save lives. Fernandez hopes that SBHF will serve as a model for other community healthcare centers to become more resilient in the face of disaster. To learn more about energy solutions, click here .
Monterey Bay Aquarium Sets the Green Standard in Education & Energy
Aug. 2019 – An aquarium wouldn’t exist without water and the same holds true with electricity. The Monterey Bay Aquarium not only illuminates its exhibits with energy efficient LED bulbs, its facility runs entirely on renewable energy.
Advocating clean energy through MBPrime, MBCP’s 100% renewable service powered exclusively by wind and solar, makes the Monterey Bay Aquarium this month’s Clean Energy Hero.
Receiving 2 million guests annually, MBA uses this opportunity to educate guests on both individual and community-level action that visitors can bring back to their communities.
MBA educates its volunteers and local visitors about our MBprime service offering in addition to other sustainable initiativesThey take the time to speak with national and global visitors about reducing pollution and more recently, about bringing the concept of Community Choice Energy agency back to their own communities.
As a certified carbon-neutral organization and state leader in renewables, the MBA proves that the efforts of one business can generate a wave of community action. In fact, their Seafood Watch Program has inspired 90% of American seafood retailers to move away from supporting destructive fishing practices. This program promotes healthy ocean habitats while rewarding businesses who adhere to sustainable seafood practices.
Ditching single-use plastics wasn’t cool until the MBA explained that items we use for a few minutes has the potential to destroy vulnerable marine animal populations for centuries.
Last year, the MBA showcased a life size Big Blue Whale to represent the amount of trash that ends up in our ocean every 9 minutes.Whether it’s renewables, sustainable seafood, or going zero-waste, motivating people to take control of their personal choices and sparking community-level action is when change truly becomes impactful.