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PG&E launches electric vehicle charging network with 7,500 stations

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PG&E on Wednesday launched a new network for charging electric vehicles, a web of green energy that will eventually include 7,500 charging stations.

Condominiums, apartment buildings and workplaces throughout PG&E’s service territory in northern and central California are among the types of locations planned for the EV-charging stations.

Over the first three months of 2018, PG&E will install new electric vehicle charging sites through partnerships with business customers. Merced College, the first participating customer, was among the first round of installations.

The $130 million program will extend over three years and end in 2020, PG&E said.

All hosts of the EV-charging sites will be allowed to own the vehicle-charging equipment, PG&E said.

San Francisco-based PG&E will be allowed to own 35 percent of the charging stations installed over the three years, which would be up to 2,625 out of the 7,500.

“We have just installed chargers at our first customer site, which is the Los Banos campus of Merced College,” said Ari Vanrenen, a PG&E spokeswoman.

PG&E installed six chargers at the campus on Wednesday. Each charging station can accommodate two vehicles at the same time. Merced College has decided to own the first six chargers.

Equipment for this program includes what are known as Level 2 chargers.

“Level 2 charges a vehicle in four to six hours,” Vanrenen said.

In January 2017, PG&E proposed a $253 million plan to expand use of electric vehicles in California in a quest for cleaner air, but customers would be forced to pay more in monthly power bills to bankroll the company’s project.

The proposal’s elements include helping ease the process of conversions to electric vehicles of existing large- and medium-sized vehicles now running on diesel or gasoline, and expanding deployment of fast-charging electric vehicle stations that power up electric cars in roughly 25 minutes.

But that plan would come with a cost: Monthly power bills would rise an average of 28 cents a month for residential customers of PG&E, Vanrenen estimated at the time.

An expansion of PG&E’s initial efforts is already in the works through a series of pilot programs, Max Baumhefner, a San Francisco-based official with the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental activism group, stated in a blog post on Wednesday.

“These programs will be soon followed by 15 different pilots that were recently approved by the state Public Utilities Commission and which target cars, trucks, buses, cranes, airport equipment, forklifts and other things that move,” Baumhefner wrote in the blog post.

The stations that PG&E would own would most likely be in multi-family residential apartment or condominium complexes, as well as in disadvantaged communities.

“These would be in places where cars would be more likely to sit for extended periods of time,” Vanrenen said.

PG&E launches electric vehicle charging network with 7,500 stations

Ulta Beauty’s first distribution center in California now calling Fresno home

The walls are up at Ulta Beauty’s new distribution center in Southwest Fresno. But it’s taken months to turn Ag land into a commercial business that will soon house hundreds of employees, sending beauty products around the country.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said, “We had the right business elements. The right geographical location in California, the right weather, a big enough urban base to have a substantial labor supply, the cost of the building. All of that works in our favor.”

Brand likes the progress he’s seeing, he said the area in Southwest Fresno, known as the “Reverse Triangle”, features an e-commerce business boom with Amazon and Ulta going up. The nearby 41 and 99 will help drivers goods get shipped far north to Canada and as far south as Mexico.

Both Ulta and Amazon combined are expected to fill about 3,000 positions for their new centers.

Brand said, “The bad news is we have a lot of underemployed people. The good news is, now we have solutions to fill these slots. These people are working with social services and other agency sought to get them trained.”

The city is working to get people trained and ready. Ulta has hired its leadership positions to work in the new 670,000 square foot distribution center at the Northeast corner of East and Central Avenues.

Recently they started hiring mechanics and clerks. Online, people can start applying for material handlers or associate positions.

Brand said, “The orders come in, the computerized labels, they’re sorted, probably electronically and robotically– but there’s always humans there making sure those things get out and are done properly.”

The city offered companies a tax incentive per job, which they say will in turn, over a long period of time, will bring a $40-million to $50-million impact to our area.

Now other companies are looking at expanding.

“I think we are on the forefront here in Fresno on this new type of economy, and we’re hoping to really capitalize on it,” said Brand.

Ulta will be hiring during the next six months. They plan to begin shipping to stores and online guests in July.

http://abc30.com/2959548/?sf179533845=1

Sunset Magazine put out a list of 20 game-changing places to live and Fresno’s on it

January 08, 2018 11:48 AM

Updated January 08, 2018 04:24 PM

Carnegie Arts Center to exhibit 80 pieces through March

 

What better way to celebrate the Central Valley than to exhibit photos that highlight life in this area?

The Carnegie Arts Center will be doing just that with an upcoming exhibit entitled Valley Focus. Eighty photo pieces by 50 photographers will be on display from Jan. 17 to Mar. 18.

Santa Cruz-based photographer Ted Orland selected the pieces from over 250 entries. Orland has worked for designer Charles Eames and was an assistant to Ansel Adams. He currently teaches master class workshops throughout the country.

An opening reception and awards ceremony will be held on Jan. 18, from 5-8 p.m. at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, 250 N. Broadway.

Artists Included in the Exhibition:

Leslee Adams, Modesto
Rosalva Aguilar, Escalon
Janet Alcalde, Murphys
Ann Bailey, Turlock
Clifford H. Bailey, Turlock
Martin Baker, Modesto
Anna Barber, Ripon
Tracy Barbutes, Groveland
Fred Benz, Fresno
Barry Buttress, Turlock
William Calvin, Modesto
Carrie Anne Castillo, Turlock
Neil Cervenka, Turlock
Roberto Chiesa, Modesto
Susan Conner, Altaville
Scott Fergusson, Modesto
Michael Frye, Mariposa
Franka Gabler, Coarsegold
Charlotte Gibb, Lafayette
Clayton Gomez, Turlock
William Harris, Modesto
David Hoffman, Mariposa
Greg Hubbard, Merced
Gary Hunter, Oakdale
Alexis Isley, Delhi
Karen Jensen, Hughson
Linda Knoll, Modesto
Peter David Lee, Modesto
Alice Lessard, Merced
Larry Lew, Ceres
Lisa Livingston, Modesto
Emela McLaren, Manteca
John Moses, Fresno
Jodie Parolini, Turlock
James Quinley, Turlock
Evan Russel, Yosemite Village
Cassaundra Salvanera, Modesto
Joseph Scalero, Modesto
Tara Schendel, Turlock
David Schroeder, Modesto
Roberto Serrato, Riverbank
Jen Smith, Turlock
Elisa Solorio-Ontiveros, Turlcok
Lindsey Tallcott, Modesto
Andy Tolsma, Merced
Arturo Velasquez, Modesto
Christopher Viney, Atwater
James Weber, Discovery Bay
Dennis Wister, Modesto
Roger Wyan, Merced

There are new restaurants coming to the reborn Fulton Street. Here’s the latest

January 10, 2018 08:00 AM

Updated January 10, 2018 10:07 AM

Hundreds come for an Amazon job.

BY TIM SHEEHAN

Updated January 16, 2018 03:00 PM

Taking a look at top trends in Central Valley tech for 2018

Phillip Lan

 

Twenty-seventeen has proven to be yet another exciting year in technology.

We’ve seen Google’s artificial intelligence create its own ‘AI child,’ which outperforms those created by humans, growth of blockchain, rapid advancements in quantum computing, flying cars and expanded use of the precise gene editing technique CRISPR/Cas-9.

Scientists are even beginning to develop potential roadmaps to reverse aging.

As we close out the year and look forward to 2018, let’s take a moment to see which upcoming technology trends will be the most impactful for the Central Valley.
On a side note, isn’t it interesting that as collective human knowledge grows exponentially, individual humans appear to be less capable? Some of us are losing the ability to read maps, spell correctly and do arithmetic in our heads. As voice-enabled smart devices evolve into wearables and then implantables, some people may find literacy to be unnecessary in a few years.

Back to 2018 tech trends.

Safe-driving vehicles, not self-driving vehicles
Despite all the attention that Tesla and the GM/Cruise Automation combo have been getting, Level 5 fully-autonomous vehicles are still several years away. 2018, however, will see the launch of collision avoidance, automatic braking and lane monitoring technologies from most major vehicle manufacturers.

Besides saving lives and reducing injuries, the elimination of fender-benders will eventually drastically lower our auto insurance premiums. Delivery fleets are now testing these same features, and semi-trucks may well be the application that pushes the pace for adoption of fully autonomous vehicles in the Central Valley.

Agtech hits its stride
Agriculture and construction are two of the last large industries yet to be disrupted by advanced software. Progress has been slow in these sectors, but momentum is now accelerating in agtech. John Deere’s $305 million acquisition of Blue River Technologies has lit a fire under venture firms to investigate opportunities and make investments in this space. We are still a few years away from viable protein reactors that literally produce food out of thin air or lab-grown meat (our grandkids will surely find it barbaric that we had to actually kill animals for meat), but many agtech companies are already being funded to improve yields and reduce pesticide use through intelligent software.

Ceres Imaging (ceresimaging.net), an Oakland-based VC-funded company is led by agricultural and technology professionals including agronomists, hydrologists, and remote sensing experts. The company’s products, which include agronomic insights through aerial spectral imagery, proprietary sensors and analytics, and artificial intelligence software is already being used to help local almond farmers optimize nut harvests and profits.

Local software and digital marketing talent expands 
The next generation of agtech won’t drive productivity gains solely from mechanization as in the past. Instead this new generation will leverage state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence software. Fortunately, as I mentioned in a previous column, Stanislaus County has established itself as a software development hub, with local companies employing over 1,000 programmers. Several initiatives will further accelerate growth of the county’s software talent pool and even expand it into the Stockton area.

  • Valley Hackathon (valleyhackathon.com) a fast-growing programming contest that highlights local programmers continues to expand and draw coders into the tech community. The next event will be held at Modesto’s ValleyWorx (valleyworx.com) tech and digital design co-working space on January 26 and 27.
  • ValleyWorx now hosts a rapidly expanding coding meetup every Wednesday from 3-8 p.m. The collaboration with Free Code Camp is providing an easy entry point for developers to accelerate their growth.
  • Bay Valley Tech’s (bayvalleytech.com) coding camps and advanced software development classes taught by professional programmers will also grow the local talent pool.
  • In 2018, Bay Valley Foundation (bayvalleyfoundation.com) will begin raising money for a technology scholarship fund to provide tuition assistance to Central Valley students seeking careers in software development.
  • The Entrepreneur Lab, based in downtown Stockton’s Huddle co-working space, is a 21-week, intensive incubation program which cultivates high-growth startups.

In addition to software, the Central Valley’s digital design and marketing capabilities are also expanding rapidly.

Final Cut Media (finalcutmedia.com) saw their business and headcount triple in the last year alone. As experts in marketing strategy, design and digital video creation, they help leading brands such as Bay Area-based Fit Republic Health Clubs successfully plan and execute integrated, digital-focused marketing campaigns. Final Cut is also a trusted advisor to large organizations like Stanislaus County, developing digital/social communications strategies for their human resources and recruiting teams.

Mike Daniel, Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at Final Cut, advises companies to build a solid digital content/distribution strategy and then leverage data to create an effective lead funnel. Final Cut’s success is further driving rapid tech and digital marketing growth in the Valley.

Expanding Bay Area companies bring more high-paying tech jobs
Bay Area technology firms winning in the global marketplace have created tremendous wealth in the form of profits, salaries and stock options. The resulting competition for tech workers and housing have raised salaries but diminished affordable housing in the San Francisco/San Jose region.

Some communities now require an annual income of $218,000 to qualify for a median-priced home.

Tech firms looking for relief have traditionally expanded out of state to destinations such as Denver, Austin and Seattle. The recent surge in Central Valley software talent, however, is beginning to catch the attention of Bay Area companies.

The Modesto/Stockton area now has both affordable housing and tech talent, making the region an attractive option for Bay Area companies who want to keep satellite offices closer to home.

American Medical Response, Novo Technologies and Oportun have all been expanding and hiring software professionals in their Modesto offices. Recently, Varsity Technologies (varsitytechnologies.com), a San Francisco-based company providing outsourced IT services to organizations that want to make a difference (non-profits, schools and healthcare organizations) opened a second office in Modesto within the ValleyWorx tech co-working space.

Local businesses and techies are thrilled to have Varsity bring their expertise and jobs to our community and are confident more Bay Area companies will see the value of investing in our region and our people in 2018.

Personal income seeing growth throughout Central Valley, State

December 18, 2017

By NORA HESTON TARTE
Business Journal Writer

Are Central Valley households earning more?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, personal income experienced growth in 2016 in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties.

San Joaquin led the charge, coming in above state and national averages at 5 percent personal income growth from 2015 to 2016. Stanislaus County and Merced County came in at 3.6 and 2.1 percent, respectively.

California counties enjoyed an average of 3.7 percent gains in personal income in 2016 and nationwide averages were 2.3 percent.

Personal income refers to all money made by people in the U.S., including total earnings from wages, investment enterprises and other ventures.

These numbers are part of a nationwide trend the BEA reported has continued in 2017, with personal income in the U.S. growing $65.1 billion, or 0.4 percent, in October.

In the second quarter of 2017, California personal incomes grew 0.7 percent on average after increasing 1.4 percent in the first quarter, according to estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

While the numbers indicate growth, percentages are down from the previous two years in all three counties, following state and national trends.

Data for 2017 by county will not be released until November 2018.

 

https://cvbj.biz/2017/12/18/personal-income-seeing-growth-throughout-central-valley-state/

When a brewery deal fell through, this developer opted to open a downtown event center

California passes Florida in citrus production

• Florida’s industry devastated by disease

• Florida produced twice as much citrus as California as
recently as 2012

For the first time in 70 years, California has surpassed Florida
in citrus production, according to the University of California,
Davis.
Florida groves have been decimated by a disease called
huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, that threatens
citrus production in California, too.
“HLB is not just bad for farmers and the economy,” says Carolyn
Slupsky, a biochemist and nutritionist with the University of
California, Davis. “The loss of fresh oranges and other citrus is
a real possibility and that would seriously impact our health.”
Ms. Slupsky and other UC Davis experts are working with
farmers and fellow scientists to develop early detection
methods, boost tree immunity and find a cure for the
devastating disease.
California farmers sold nearly 4 million tons of citrus in the
2016-2017 marketing season, compared to 3.5 million tons from
Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Florida
produced twice as much citrus as California as recently as the
2011-2012 season.
Florida didn’t lose its top spot because the Golden State is
producing more citrus. In fact, California farmers produced 14
percent fewer fresh oranges this season.
Citrus greening disease is caused by a bacterium that is spread
by the Asian citrus psyllid, a tiny insect that feeds on the leaves
and stems of citrus trees. A tree infected with HLB can live for
years without symptoms, allowing the pathogen to spread
undetected to other trees. Symptoms emerge over time as a
tree’s fruit starts to turn green and misshapen with a bitter,
metallic taste.
HLB is a global threat. Beyond Florida, the disease has
destroyed groves in Asia, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
The disease has been spotted in about 250 backyard trees in
Southern California, but so far California’s commercial orchards
— many of which are in the Central Valley — have been spared.
Researchers are hard at work to keep it that way. An
international team of scientists led by UC Davis chemical
ecology expert Walter Leal recently identified the molecule that
attracts the Asian citrus psyllid, which may help researchers
develop a less toxic way to trap the insect to slow the disease’s
spread.
Ms. Slupsky is taking a different tack. She and her team are
using nuclear magnetic resonance technology to study how the
pathogen affects the metabolism of the tree. Her research
shines a light on HLB’s mode of attack.
“The pathogen seems to cause havoc with a tree’s ability to
defend itself from infection,” Ms. Slupsky says. “That’s a
spectacular discovery, because when we understand the
mechanisms behind the attack we have a chance at blocking
them and boosting a tree’s natural immunity.”
Working with Kris Godfrey, an associate project scientist at the
UC Davis Contained Research Facility, and Michelle Heck at
Cornell University, Ms. Slupsky found differences in the
chemical fingerprint of leaves starting very early in the infection
process. With further research, she believes that she can
develop a chemical profile to provide a reliable, rapid and early
indicator of the presence of infection.
“Early detection is key,” Ms. Slupsky says. “If we can catch the
disease early in the infection and get rid of the infected trees,
we can hopefully slow down the spread of HLB enough to give
scientists time to find a cure.”
Breeders are working to develop HLB-resistant rootstock, which
is one of the most promising avenues to a cure. Researchers
are also looking at whether they can transform the psyllid to
prevent its ability to spread HLB. UC Davis plant pathologist
Bryce Falk is leading a search to find and engineer viruses that
can induce traits in the insect that prevent it from transmitting
the bacterium.
Breeding rootstock and engineering viruses takes time. In the
meantime, backyard citrus growers can help keep HLB at bay
by monitoring their trees for signs of psyllids or infection and
removing trees that are infected or near infected trees.
Ms. Slupsky says that together, farmers, gardeners and science
can help save citrus and the nourishment it provides.
“From a nutritional standpoint, it’s hard to beat fresh citrus,” she
says. “Oranges provide energy, fiber and a wide variety of
nutrients, vitamins and minerals. They’re one of the most
consumed fruits in the United States. I can’t imagine life without
fresh citrus.”

http://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/ef5510b4-9300-43a9-a028-80a931c7b1f6.pdf