Supersonic demonstrator XB-1 to flight tests at Mojave Air and Space Port

Boom Supersonic, the aerospace company building the world’s fastest airliner is partnering with Flight Research, Inc. at Mojave Air and Space Port to do flight test work in the supersonic corridor, located in the restricted airspace known as R-2515. FRI will provide Flight Test Support to Boom with a two-seat, supersonic trainer, for pilot proficiency training as well as a chase aircraft during XB-1’s flight test program.

According to Boom Supersonic website, “XB-1 is the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet and will demonstrate key technologies for Overture, Boom’s commercial airliner, such as advanced carbon fiber composite construction, computer-optimized high-efficiency aerodynamics, and an efficient supersonic propulsion system. XB-1 is the end product of years of development effort, including multiple wind tunnel tests, dozens of structural tests, hundreds of simulation iterations, and tens of thousands of work hours.”

The XB-1 will be disassembled and transported to Mojave, and reassembled in one of FRI hangars located at the Mojave Air and Space Port. Boom will also sub-lease a portion of the FRI Headquarters where they plan on building a custom space to support the SB-1, including a fully instrumented flight test control room and an XB-1 simulator room with cockpit and visual displays.

In a press release, Boom founder and CEO, Blake Scholl said, “Flight Research provides essential equipment and superior facilities at the Mojave Air and Space Port, enabling us to finalize and fly XB-1.” Scott Glaser, senior vice president of Operations at FRI said, “With Boom, we’re presented with an opportunity to partner with a dynamic and ground-breaking organization that is challenging conventional wisdom about flying.” “This will be a new supersonic testing project for us, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome Boom to this historic airfield and to outfit a space to meet their needs. We look forward to contributing to the return of supersonic commercial air travel.

A statement in a Boom Supersonic press release from January 2020, “Boom is currently building XB-1, which will help refine the design and engineering of Overture, Boom’s revolutionary supersonic commercial airliner. XB-1 shares key technologies with Overture, such as advanced carbon fiber composites and a refined delta wing planform. Lessons from XB-1 have already helped optimize Overture and will prove in-flight key technologies for safe, efficient travel at supersonic speeds.”

Califia Farms Named Beverage Forum’s Company of the Year in the Small Company Category ($1BB in revenue or less)

Califia Farms, a leading plant-based beverage company, was recognized as Beverage Forum’s Small Company of the Year – for companies with $1 billion in revenue or less — by Beverage Industry Magazine and the Beverage Marketing Association. Califia Farms CEO Dave Ritterbush accepted the award and gave a keynote address at the annual event that brings together industry leaders to discuss the future of the beverage marketplace. “We’re honored by this recognition for the brand Califia has built over the last 10 years and where we are going in the future,” said Dave Ritterbush, CEO of Califia Farms. “With nearly two in five households buying plant-based dairy alternativesii, Califia is uniquely positioned to provide consumers with the healthy, delicious beverages they are seeking. He added, “We remain committed to creating a future where plants replace dairy without compromise.”

Califia Farms was chosen as the Small Company of the Year based on its impact on the beverage industry.  “Califia Farms is a true innovator in the beverage space,” said Michael Bellas, chairman and CEO of Beverage Marketing Corporation. “Califia continues to expand its line of dairy alternatives with unique and on-trend products like Protein Oat and its latest Barista Blend releases: Mushroom Oat and Hemp.”

About Califia Farms (pronounced “Cal-ih-FEE-ah” like California)
Inspired by the bounty of California, Califia Farms is on a mission to nourish the world with the wisdom of a plant-based lifestyle. The company creates innovative, healthy and great-tasting premium beverages that make it easy for consumers to go plant-based and dairy-free, without compromise. Califia Farms is one of the fastest-growing natural beverage companies in the U.S., as well as the leading brand in the natural products plant-based milks category.

Founded in 2010 by beverage visionary, Greg Steltenpohl, in partnership with a farmer’s co-op based in the San Joaquin Valley, Califia Farms is a uniquely California company. Its Bakersfield, Calif. manufacturing plant is powered 100% by renewable energy and re-purposes more than 90% of its post-production byproduct.

Kern ‘center of excellence’ attracts another renewable fuels project

A Southern California company plans to open a renewable diesel plant in Bakersfield that would employ at least 70 people helping turn 5,300 barrels per day of dirty cooking oil and other low-grade feedstock into relatively clean fuel for powering heavy-duty trucks. UrbanX Renewables Group, a decade-old biodiesel refiner based in Long Beach, announced earlier this month that South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd. has agreed to complete the project’s front-end engineering design contract. The plant is expected to open within 18 months; its location, cost and potential subsidies have not been disclosed.

As the first project in California proposing to use low-carbon refining technology co-developed by San Ramon-based Chevron Corp., the plant would add to Kern’s emerging profile as a proving ground for renewable fuels that state policymakers consider important to achieving the state’s climate goals and transitioning the county away from oil and gas production. UrbanX Vice President and CTO Addison Stark said by phone Bakersfield was deemed a good location because of industrial expertise within the local workforce and the area’s existing renewable diesel projects. “We’re excited to see this new industry being built in Bakersfield,” he said. “It’s become a center of excellence on this. … A good place to be is where other people are building (similar) projects.”

UrbanX owns an exclusive, West Coast license to technology developed by Chevron Lummus Global LLC, which is a joint venture between Chevron and Texas-based Lummus Technology. The technology is touted as producing a low-carbon fuel indistinguishable from petroleum-based diesel. It can be substituted gallon-for-gallon without need for engine or fueling-infrastructure modifications, and unlike most biodiesels, it does not need to be blended with other fuels.

Using a process CLG calls isoconversion, the plant would take in various grades of grease, including used cooking oils containing salts and other impurities, as well as rendered animal fats and potentially other waste that normally ends up in landfills. Then it would use chemical catalysts as part of conventional refining reactions to produce a homogenous fuel of consistent quality. Stark said the process’s flexibility in converting various feedstocks is a primary emphasis. He added the company currently operates a refinery in Long Beach that produces 400 barrels per day of biodiesel.

Several renewable fuels projects exist in Kern and others have been proposed, including one by a Torrance-based company that expects by January to produce 15,000 barrels per day at the former Big West refinery on Rosedale Highway. Although some environmental groups oppose renewable fuels because they produce emissions, such activity has been embraced by the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom as part of its push to reach carbon neutrality in California by 2045. Accordingly, the state has granted millions of taxpayer dollars to support development of renewable fuel projects.

The biodiesel industry estimates California’s use of biodiesel and renewable fuels has increased during the past decade from 15 million gallons per year to almost 900 million. Kern County business, government and community leaders are also pushing to expand such activity locally as part of the economic diversification and job-creation initiative called Better Bakersfield & Boundless Kern, or B3K. The county’s chief administrative officer, Ryan Alsop, said by email B3K has identified renewable fuel production as one of several sectors in which Kern will focus strategies for attracting and supporting businesses and new ventures such as that of UrbanX.

Around Kings County: ‘Wall to Wall’ solar plants on the way

This month the Kings County Planning Commission approved three huge but modified solar projects that will sprawl over the westside of the county, flanking Highway 41 and the Avenal Cutoff — all part of the huge Westlands Solar Park project.

Westlands Solar Park (WSP) is a master-planned solar complex covering 21,000 acres in west-central Kings County — that featureless landscape that looks like it was an ancient lakebed — because it was. The developers are covering this flat land with a sea of solar panels that will soon stretch ‘wall to wall’ along both sides of the Avenal Cutoff for miles between NAS Lemoore and I-5. The 2018 Westlands Solar Park master plan calls for a total of 12 solar power generating facilities to be developed in a period of 12 years. The installed capacity of each solar farm near the Fresno/Kings county lines is planned to be up to 250MW. Already, six of the 12 projects have, or are in the process of being permitted- clustered near each other connected to the grid by a new tie-in line (Gates Gen-Tie). The 250MW WSP project called Aquamarine is expected to go on line this fall.

Westlands Grape Solar — a 250 megawatt alternating current solar farm that includes construction of an electrical substation and a large battery energy storage facility. Located on the northside of Nevada Avenue, the new solar farm is planned to be constructed over a 14-month period, starting in mid-2022, with completion scheduled for mid-2023. The facility will include approximately 250 battery storage units, larger than other WSP projects in the past.

The other two projects are already approved but are increasing the number of battery storage units as the state calls for more of the units to spread the impact of solar generation to the grid into the evening hours.

2. Westlands Chestnut Solar — The applicant is proposing to amend a previously approved Conditional Use Permit to allow for an increase in the area covered by battery storage units from approximately 2 acres to 6 acres and a central microwave communication tower up to 175 feet tall. The number of battery storage units will go from 44 to 150. The site is 24998 Nevada Avenue.

3. Westlands Blue Solar -The applicant is proposing to amend a previously approved Conditional use Permit and increase the permitted battery storage units from 84 units to 250 units covering 9 acres instead of 3 acres. The location is 25959 Laurel Avenue, Lemoore.

The Westlands Aquamarine project will sell 50MW to Valley Clean Energy Alliance, which executed a contract with WSP in early 2020. Valley Clean Energy is a locally-governed electricity provider for the California cities of Davis, Woodland, Winters and unincorporated portions of Yolo County. “We believe Westlands Solar Park is ideally positioned to be a leader in California’s program to reduce the state’s carbon footprint and meet its Renewable Portfolio Standards targets. With Aquamarine advancing to full operation before year-end, we are realizing our vision for Westlands Solar Park to become a major clean energy provider as well as meeting a significant commitment in our company’s ongoing sustainability program,” said Avi Shemesh, co-founder and principal, CIM Group. “With Aquamarine and the future phases of Westlands Solar Park, we also are bringing clean energy jobs to the region and generating revenue for the local government and area businesses. “With the imminent completion of Aquamarine, we are in active discussions with numerous entities to supply the clean energy that is critical to meeting the short- and long-term goals for renewable energy — vital to improving communities,” Shemesh said.

Aquamarine recently entered into a 75-MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with Santa Clara, joining other off-takers Anaheim Public Utility, and is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counter parties. WSP has the capacity to grow to more than 2,700 MW of renewable energy at full buildout and the potential to provide clean energy to more than 1,200,000 homes.

New apartments, houses proposed near Stanislaus State

More housing options could soon be on the way for prospective renters and buyers in town as plans to build more apartments and homes have been submitted to the City of Turlock.  In addition to plans already under review for an apartment complex on 20th Century Boulevard and approved blueprints for a gated community on 5th Street, developers are clamoring to take advantage of two more infill properties located on the north side of town. A proposal for an apartment complex on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and North Walnut Road was received by the City last month, as were plans for a 32-home subdivision at the dead end of Crowell Road.

Florsheim Homes, which is developing the 5th Street gated community and also constructed the Rose Verde subdivision near Monte Vista Crossings, is hoping to subdivide the 6.5-acre parcel located at 4510 Crowell Rd. into 32 lots varying in size from 5,340 to 9,264 square feet.  While the site is currently home to Light of Christ Lutheran Church, which hosted a popular light show this past Christmas, the existing structure and other features of the lot will be demolished to make way for the homes, if approved. The church is still the property owner, according to the application, and a public hearing for the project will be held on Aug. 5.

If Florsheim is able to stick to the proposed construction schedule, the homes will be built beginning in May 2022 and completed by early 2023. The new builds come amid a housing shortage in California, which as recently as 2018 was ranked 49th in the United States when it came to housing per capita. Chris Hawke, who is hoping to develop the 348-unit apartment complex on Monte Vista Avenue, said that Turlock is in need of more housing and is also involved with the Fairbanks Ranch homes being built on Tuolumne Road near Denair.

While Hawke said both student housing and affordable housing models were considered for the proposed apartment complex, the project will consist of market-value apartments which he envisions being rented out by Stanislaus State employees, students and a mix of other community members. “We think it’s an exciting location just because of its proximity to the university,” Hawke said.

According to the project application, the apartment complex will consist of 12 three-story buildings with patios on the first floor and balconies on the second and third. Hawke said that the number of units, which is proposed at 348, could change as the process moves along.  Should the apartment complex be approved later this year, he expects construction to be complete on the project by 2023, as long as inflated labor and product shortages don’t interfere. There is not yet a public hearing date scheduled for the project. “I think there has been very little new apartment development in the city of Turlock, so it’s an opportunity for us to bring on a fairly large-sized project of apartments into the community,” Hawke said.

Delhi Unified unveils plans for $15M Career Technical Education building, plus new school

Delhi Unified School District students can look forward to more vocational training opportunities, as the district moves forward to develop its new Career and Technical Education building. District officials say the 15,000 square-foot building, with a projected cost of $15 million, will be geared toward offering real-world technical skills in agriculture, welding, metal work, fabrication, and computer-aid design, to name a few.

The building will be located along Schendel Avenue and Shanks Road, on an area of Delhi High that’s currently occupied by basketball courts. “It really opens a whole new world of opportunities,” said Adolfo Melara, Delhi Unified superintendent. “This provides students a high school experience where they can learn many skills, and explore different venues for the future. We see this as an enhancement of our academic program to our students.”

In addition, classes will be held for middle school students in the new building, plus residents will have access to welding and manufacturing classes. The district first contemplated the idea for a new technical education building six years ago as parents expressed a desire for more vocational education training for students. In 2016, the board passed Measure W, a bond measure that authorized the district to use $12 million for the career technical education building. While the board unanimously voted to approve of the building project in 2016, it wasn’t until recently the district began executing plans for the building, Melara said. The district applied for a competitive state grant for construction, and was awarded $3 million, aiding in the $15 million cost for the entire project.

The building is expected to break ground either in the summer or fall next year, and open in mid 2023. New school in the works Aside from the technical building, Delhi Unified is working with Maracor Development to secure 30 acres for a new school near Bradbury Road. The district wants another school to accommodate more families who choose to enroll their children as more than 940 homes are being planned at the corner of Vincent and Bradbury Road in Delhi. Melara said the board hasn’t approved of the project just yet, as the district is still working on the details of the cost, where the district could get the money, when construction could begin, and if the school will either be a middle school or elementary school. “These are very exciting times for Delhi Unified School District,” Melara said. “We’ve had very hardworking people, wonderful parents and students and these are resources our community really needs and we will make the best investment of these resources on behalf of our children.” “I’m very excited and positive and happy for the benefits both of these projects will bring to the Delhi community,” he added.

AgLand Renewables Receives California Competes Tax Credit

AgLand Renewables LLC (AgLand), the California subsidiary of Maryland-based CleanBay Renewables Inc., has been selected by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to receive $1.7 million in tax credit from the highly competitive California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) program. With this support from the Governor’s office, AgLand can begin development of multiple bioconversion facilities in California that will directly support the state’s economic and environmental goals. “Attracting a company like AgLand Renewables to California is exactly why the CalCompetes program was created,” said Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to the Governor and Director of GO-Biz. “Not only will AgLand Renewables create well-paying jobs and economic opportunity across the Central Valley, but its solution will help us reach California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals while simultaneously supporting the Governor’s healthy soils initiative.”

AgLand will deploy at least two facilities in the Central Valley, home of California’s vast poultry production industry, over the next five years. The facilities will use anerobic digestion and fertilizer formation technology to sustainably convert poultry litter into renewable natural gas (RNG) and organic, controlled-release fertilizers. “These state-of-the-art facilities will help grow California’s leadership in climate smart agriculture, scale-up healthy soils, recycle important nutrients in agriculture, and invest hundreds of millions within hard hit agricultural communities,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “More than half a million tons of poultry litter is produced in the Central Valley each year, which, if uncontrolled, can release significant greenhouse gases and other emissions that negatively affect the local air, soil and water quality,” said Thomas Spangler, CleanBay Renewables Inc.’s Executive Chairman. “Our sustainable alternative use for poultry litter provides an immediate opportunity to enhance the economic value of the Central Valley’s agricultural industry while simultaneously helping the state meet its low carbon fuel standards and emissions reduction goals.”

By converting more than 150,000 tons of chicken litter annually, each facility can generate more than 750,000 MMBtus of renewable natural gas, 100,000 tons of organic, controlled-release fertilizer, and an estimated 500,000 tons of CO2 equivalent emission abatement that will be available for purchase in carbon markets. “The projects will provide a long-term, sustainable source of renewable transportation fuels and organic fertilizers that will provide a substantial reduction in climate pollutants and improve soil health in California,” said Donal Buckley, CleanBay Renewables Inc.’s CEO. “Further, our direct investment of over $1 billion will provide much needed economic benefits to the Central Valley, creating dozens of new well-paying full-time jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs through construction and supply-chain needs.”

The proposed site locations in Kings and Merced Counties, were identified with support from the GO-Biz Business Investment Services team. Both facilities are projected to be fully operational by 2024. AgLand is exploring other measures to further reduce its carbon footprint, including co-located solar power fields and microgrid technologies as well as the production of alternative fuels such as green hydrogen.

Council clears the way for modern logistics center on Grant Line Road

Plans for a large industrial building on 86 acres along the south side of Grant Line Road were cleared by the Tracy City Council on Tuesday. The project applicant was Prologis, developer of much of the land in the 870-acre Northeast Industrial Area as well as the International Park of Commerce on the west side of town. No mention was made during the council’s discussion of the potential user of the building, which is referred to as “Project Big Bird.”

In order to clear the project for development the Tracy City Council needed to approve an amendment to the Northeast Industrial Area Specific Plan, allowing buildings in the area to be as high as 125 feet, more than twice the height now allowed under that plan, provided the building is at least 250 feet from any property line. The council approved that amendment on a unanimous vote. The council also unanimously approved the development review for the building, which will be between Skylark Way and Chrisman Road, with the developer building a realigned Paradise Road at the south side of the project.

The footprint of 823,522 square feet includes 55,808 square feet of office space on the north side of the building and 767,714 square feet of warehouse space on the ground floor. Four levels of 133,024-square-foot robotics-occupied sorting floors above the ground floor bring it to a height of 99 feet with 1,355,618 square feet of space. In addition, each of the upper floors has 532,466 square feet of robotic storage platforms, accounting for another 2.1 million square feet of storage space. The project also includes a parking lot for more than 1,800 cars and more than 230 trailers between the building and Grant Line Road. All 40 loading dock bays would be on the south side of the building.

Representatives of Prologis’ San Francisco office would not identify the potential user, citing client confidentiality. Plans included with the city staff report include a drawing that depicts signage for Amazon, and another shows an Amazon logo on the side of the building. A representative of Amazon would not confirm if Amazon is the user, noting that the company does not comment on its future plans. Amazon has three major centers in town, including its OAK4 fulfillment center, opened in 2013, just south of the new building. Two more, including one that opened this week, are located in the Prologis International Park of Commerce on the west side of town. Ali Harandi, investment officer with Prologis, described Project Big Bird to the city council, without naming the user, as the type of facility that defines modern logistics. “The building is impressive. It represents the future of logistics in fulfillment real estate,” Harandi told the council. “Upon completion in 2022 the building is going to be the flagship of our client’s portfolio. It will retain over 700 city of Tracy jobs, good-paying jobs, while adding an additional 300 manufacturing jobs for the neighboring facility that they occupy. These are higher-paying managerial logistics jobs with heavy engineering and robotics inside of the building. “Also, it will probably generate hundreds of construction jobs, and these aren’t really short-term construction jobs. Based on the sophistication of this build this is going to be a 14- to 18-month construction duration.”

During the public comment part of the hearing several representatives of labor groups endorsed the project and recommended approval, citing the local jobs that such a large construction project would bring to Tracy and San Joaquin County. The council’s discussion about the project focused in part on what the new height limit would mean for the city, with fire protection a primary concern. South San Joaquin County Fire Authority Chief Randall Bradley told the council that after meeting with city staff and representatives of Prologis he is supportive of the project. The challenge for the fire department is that at 99 feet, Project Big Bird is about 40 to 50 feet taller than neighboring buildings, such as Crate and Barrel and Amazon’s OAK4. “While we’re supportive of the project, I do want to go on record as saying that this building is a very tall building, and once you exceed 75 feet it really changes from a suburban fire protection model to an urban fire protection model,” Bradley said.

Council members also cited the local jobs in voicing their support. “I think this is an incredible project,” said Councilman Dan Arriola. “As a council we so often depend on our economic development team to bring in new jobs into the city. This is one of those few opportunities we have as a council to enact policy which itself creates jobs which are those middle class prevailing-wage jobs, and really enhances and builds up that middle class.” The only issue where the council had a split vote was on a resolution that identified a $4 million community benefit that Prologis would provide. The language of the resolution cited a multi-purpose gymnasium “or similar recreational amenity,” but council members Rhodesia Ransom and Nancy Young dissented, stating that they expected a commitment to having the gymnasium as that benefit.

Investing in the Port of Stockton, Building a natural American Soda Ash Terminal

Denmar U.S. is proposing to build and operate a new, state-of-the-art export facility for American natural soda ash at the Port of Stockton, California. This facility will represent a robust and lasting investment in Stockton and San Joaquin County, helping the Port grow the local economy while ensuring Denmar can help meet the global demand for a domestically-produced, naturally occurring product.

Soda ash is an essential raw material used most frequently in the manufacturing of glass, as well as detergents, electric car batteries, and other household products. Used in manufacturing for more than 5,000 years, Denmar’s American natural soda ash is derived from Green River, WY in the largest natural deposit of soda ash in the world.

Our goal is to build a modern, safe and reliable export facility to help meet the growing global demand for American natural soda ash. Ideally located to reach global markets, the Port of Stockton offers existing infrastructure that will allow us to operate a facility with enough capacity to meet the demand for this important domestic commodity. To ensure the project moves forward supporting local jobs, Denmar U.S. entered into a Letter-Of-Intent with the San Joaquin Building Trades Council for construction and will hire locally from Stockton’s strong workforce.