Saint-Gobain Invests $32 Million to Upgrade Equipment in Chowchilla, California, Increasing Insulation Production Capacity by 13% and Reducing Carbon Footprint

Saint-Gobain, through its building products subsidiary CertainTeed LLC, is investing $32 million to upgrade equipment at its insulation plant in Chowchilla, California, allowing the facility to expand its production capacity by 13%. The new oven, new furnace and additional new equipment installed at the plant will consume less natural gas and electricity, ultimately reducing the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 4,000 metric tons per year.

The investments in Chowchilla were first announced in November as part of a broader $400 Million expansion of Saint-Gobain’s manufacturing facilities in the United States, and come only months after the company announced its global Grow and Impact strategy, which includes increasing its presence in key high-growth markets while reducing its environmental footprint. The furnace in Chowchilla is used to melt recycled glass and sand into molten glass which is eventually fiberized. The oven is used to cure binding material which holds the fibers together, allowing the insulation to assume its final shape and dimensions. The new equipment is more energy efficient than the plant’s current equipment.

As part of the expansion project, the plant has also installed a new oxygen generation unit which consumes 30% less electricity than the older equipment it replaces. Oxygen is mixed with natural gas and used at the plant to heat the furnace. “Our strategic investments in Chowchilla represent a major commitment to our customers on the West Coast for decades to come, ensuring that we will meet the need for our industry-leading fiberglass insulation at a time of unprecedented demand growth, all while reducing the plant’s carbon footprint,” said Andrew Goldberg, Vice President and General Manager of CertainTeed Insulation Product Group. “We will continue to strive to maximize our positive impact, for our customers and the communities where we do business, while minimizing our environmental footprint. We are grateful for the support we’ve received from our customers and the community, along with the hard work of the incredible team at our plant, as we begin this new chapter of our history in Chowchilla.”

A team of approximately 20 Saint-Gobain engineers and project management professionals worked for several years to plan the equipment upgrades in Chowchilla. An additional team of approximately 300 contract workers were brought on site to install the new equipment starting in January. The new equipment is expected to come online in February and March. This is the largest capital investment CertainTeed has made in Chowchilla since the plant began operations in 1978. Today the facility is home to 180 employees and is looking to hire additional colleagues in the coming weeks. Open positions include roles in controls, engineering, health and safety management, instrumentation, packaging and production management. A current list of job openings can be found on the company’s careers website. Dating back to 2009, the CertainTeed plant in Chowchilla has operated safely for more than four million worker hours without a lost time incident.

About CertainTeed
Through the responsible development of innovative and sustainable building products, CertainTeed, headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, has helped shape the building products industry for more than 115 years. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Manufacturing Company, the firm’s slogan “Quality Made Certain, Satisfaction Guaranteed,” inspired the name CertainTeed. Today, CertainTeed is a leading North American brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, solar, fence, railing, trim, insulation, drywall and ceilings. www.certainteed.com.

About Saint-Gobain
Worldwide leader in light and sustainable construction, Saint-Gobain designs, manufactures and distributes materials and services for the construction and industrial markets. Its integrated solutions for the renovation of public and private buildings, light construction and the decarbonization of construction and industry are developed through a continuous innovation process and provide sustainability and performance. The group’s commitment is guided by its purpose, “MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER HOME.”

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220215005271/en/Saint-Gobain-Invests-32-Million-to-Upgrade-Equipment-in-Chowchilla-California-Increasing-Insulation-Production-Capacity-by-13-and-Reducing-Carbon-Footprint

chevron launches carbon capture and storage project in san joaquin valley

Chevron U.S.A. Inc., through its Chevron New Energies division, announced it is launching a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of its operations in San Joaquin Valley, California. Chevron aims to reduce its carbon intensity – the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per unit of energy produced – by installing CO2 post-combustion capture equipment, capturing the CO2 and then safely storing it thousands of feet underground. This CCS initiative would begin at Chevron’s Kern River Eastridge cogeneration plant in Kern County, California. “At Chevron, we believe the future of energy is lower carbon. Reducing the carbon intensity of the energy people rely on day-in and day-out is well-aligned with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” said Chris Powers, vice president of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) for Chevron New Energies. “We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate and progress this CCS initiative in San Joaquin Valley, a region where we have lived and worked for over a century.”

Chevron has applied to obtain a Conditional Use Permit with the Planning and Natural Resources Department of Kern County and will continue to work with appropriate regulators throughout the process. In addition to the Eastridge cogeneration project, Chevron is currently evaluating and deploying multiple carbon capture technology demonstrations to mature more efficient and cost-effective capture solutions, potentially enabling future projects, not only for Chevron, but for other industries. “As Chevron advances to a lower carbon future, we’re identifying ways to advance our operations as well, so we can continue to provide local jobs, support the local economy, and generate local government revenue that supports critical community services,” said Molly Laegeler, vice president, San Joaquin Valley (SJV), Chevron. “We are excited about this Chevron New Energies project and fostering continued collaboration with local regulators throughout this process, not only to position the region to benefit from these lower carbon solutions, but that we continue to protect people and the environment. We believe this project has the potential to benefit the region on many levels and that Kern County is an ideal location for carbon capture and storage.”

An August 2020 report by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that highlighted opportunities for California to become carbon neutral noted, “there are various options for geologic storage sites in the state, but we have identified the most promising first candidates in San Joaquin County and in Kern County,” due to the regions’ geologic and subsurface characteristics, as well as the existing oil and natural gas production.Chevron is also actively exploring additional opportunities to lower the carbon intensity of its SJV operations, including the blending of hydrogen with natural gas in combustion, and the potential use of other emerging lower carbon technologies, such as geothermal.

Project Support:
Kern Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Richard Chapman: “We have a long history of working with Chevron and have appreciated their significant involvement in our community and the role they have played in Kern County. We are excited to see their commitment to lowering the carbon footprint of their local operations and look forward to seeing the innovation and technology they plan to deploy. These efforts aim to ensure job security and workforce development opportunities and maintain the quality of life we enjoy here.”

State Building & Construction Trades Council of California President Andrew Meredith: “Energy transition efforts such as this project have the potential to create a significant number of good-paying jobs. There are also a number of skills in oil and gas jobs that are transferable to new energies, especially CCUS. We appreciate Chevron’s continued commitment to California and our workers.”

CA State Sen. Anna Caballero: “As we enter our hottest time of the year, we need to be sure we have enough energy to prevent brownouts and blackouts. This project is designed to serve a dual purpose: ensure we have electricity when we need it and help provide climate action for our Central Valley and California.”

https://www.chevron.com/newsroom/2022/q2/chevron-launches-carbon-capture-and-storage-project-in-san-joaquin-valley

CSUB in line for $83 million for energy innovation center in governor’s proposed budget

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his new proposed 2022-23 budget Monday morning, and it contains a nice plum for Bakersfield – a plum that could be worth a third of a billion dollars.

What’s the purpose of this seeming windfall? Addressing climate change and the vulnerable Kern County economy. The Kern County oil industry has faced unprecedented challenges over the past two-plus years as Sacramento has worked toward ambitious climate change goals.The number and severity of recently imposed restrictions on petroleum extraction by the state make it clear where this is all headed. That of course prompts the question  – where does that leave the Kern County economy, which relies so heavily on the oil industry? We got an important part of the answer Monday when Newsom – in revealing his proposed 2022-23 state budget –  announced his intention to give $83 million to CSU Bakersfield to research new directions in energy development as the state reduces its use of fossil fuels.  “$537 million will be going to the CSU [system] with the support of the legislature,” Newsom said.  “[Of that] $304 million [is] ongoing, and then new dollars [would be coming] as part of the budget…. On- time money, including a Bakersfield innovation center. Bakersfield, in Kern County, [is] at the center of this transition to low carbon, green growth. (It’s a) remarkable CSU [campus]. …. $83 million investment there.”

CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said the innovation center will help chart the energy future of the state – and the nation. “We are here in the epicenter of energy for the state, for the nation,” she said. “This the right place for that work to happen. So what we’ve proposed was actually a building that will be at the center of research and development for energy innovation. I really do appreciate his trust in moving this forward. He has also given us money for additional faculty that will come to be part of this research center.”

Fourty-four new faculty, to be exact, taking up residency in the California Energy Research center – 74,000 square feet on three levels, with 17 laboratory spaces, including a fabrication lab. No groundbreaking date has been set. The funding is not assured. The governor said higher education will play a crucial part of the state’s plan to address climate change. “We’re very mindful,” Newsom said, “that if we’re going to sprint in this transition we’ve got to support a thoughtful framework.”

The governor’s proposed budget would also add $250 million to help workers train for and find new jobs outside the oil extraction industries. Zelezny says she expects that several institutions of higher learning will participate in that aspect of the plan. All together, that’s a third of a billion dollars that’s being directed toward helping Kern County move away from something that’s been part of its economy and its culture for more than 125 years.

https://www.kget.com/news/local-news/csub-in-line-for-83-million-for-energy-innovation-center-in-governors-proposed-budget/

CIM Group’s Aquamarine, 250-megawatt Solar Photovoltaic Project at Westlands Solar Park, Set to Be Fully Operational by Fall 2021

LOS ANGELES–CIM Group announced today that its Aquamarine, 250-megawatt solar photovoltaic project, part of the first phase of its Westlands Solar Park (WSP), will be fully operational by fall 2021 and is on track to meet its contracted delivery of 50-megawatts of capacity to Valley Clean Energy Alliance. Valley Clean Energy Alliance, which executed a contract with WSP in early 2020, 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.”

CIM Group recently marked a significant milestone for the Aquamarine project, closing on debt and tax equity financing. Deutsche Bank was the lead arranger of the debt financing. “Deutsche Bank is excited to support CIM Group in its construction and operation of this first phase of the Westlands Solar Park. This is an important step towards our institutions’ shared goal to invest in sustainable and socially responsible projects. We look forward to continue working alongside CIM as they develop WSP and other projects beneficial to the energy transition,” says Jeremy Eisman, Head of Infrastructure & Energy Financing for Deutsche Bank in the Americas.

WSP has the opportunity to contribute to economic development in Central Valley communities by diversifying the region beyond agriculture and creating over 400 clean energy jobs, for both construction and operations, under a union labor agreement governing the entire project. WSP is also poised to generate direct and indirect revenue such as local taxes, purchasing and ancillary spending. “Recently, we completed a new power purchase agreement with Silicon Valley Power which serves the City of Santa Clara. 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,” noted Shemesh.

Aquamarine recently entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the City of Santa Clara, CA (Silicon Valley Power) to sell renewable energy credits (REC) associated with 75 megawatts of capacity, joining other off-takers at WSP including Anaheim Public Utility, and is currently negotiating additional PPAs with other potential counterparties. Silicon Valley Power is the not-for-profit electric municipal utility of the City of Santa Clara.

WSP is one of the largest permitted solar parks in the world, with the capacity to grow to more than 2,700-megawatts (2.7 gigawatts) of renewable energy at full buildout and with the potential to provide clean energy to more than 1,200,000 homes. The master-planned energy park encompasses more than 20,000 acres in California’s San Joaquin Valley in western Fresno and Kings Counties and is designed to open in phases to meet the needs of public and private utilities and other energy consumers. WSP has a completed and certified programmatic environmental impact report for the entire project and WSP is one of the few renewable energy zones identified as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) thru the Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETI) process.

CIM Group actively looks for opportunities to apply sustainable principles across its real asset portfolios, and at WSP, CIM is repurposing selenium-contaminated and drainage impaired farmland for the development of clean energy. In addition, WSP seeks to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley as the solar park doesn’t generate fine particular pollution which is a major contributor to the area’s historic poor air quality. WSP has garnered strong support from environmental communities including the Sierra Club, NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The goal of CIM’s clean energy projects is to provide solutions to multiple policy objectives for the state of California’s renewable energy mandate including greenhouse gas reduction and carbon free energy.

Since its inception in 1994, CIM has focused on investing in real estate and infrastructure projects located in or serving densely-populated communities throughout the Americas. WSP, located in a designated Opportunity Zone as defined under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is an example of CIM’s commitment to investing in sustainable assets across communities as well as investing in Opportunity Zones. CIM is a UNPRI signatory and its infrastructure projects have been recognized for sustainability by the California Organized Investment Network (COIN), a division of the California Department of Insurance.

https://www.cimgroup.com/press-releases/cim-groups-aquamarine-250-megawatt-solar-photovoltaic-project-westlands-solar-park

Compressed-air energy proposal in east Kern comes up for state review

State review is officially underway on a major energy-storage project near Rosamond that would use compressed air, thermal engineering and hydrostatic force to even out delivery of renewable power and make the state’s electrical grid more resilient. At a cost estimated at $975 million, the 500-megawatt, 4,000-megawatt-hour proposal would take electrons from renewable energy sources nearby to power air compression and underwater injection. When energy is needed later, air would be released upward to run a turbine generator. Heat would be removed early then returned later in the process.

Named the Gem Energy Storage Center, the Canadian-led project would be one of the largest of its kind on the planet, a new-generation infrastructure investment to help meet California’s huge need for large-scale energy storage. “Gem’s quick-starting, flexible and dispatchable long-duration energy supply will have the ability to ramp-up and down through a wide range of electrical output,” Toronto-based Hydrostor said in a Dec. 1 news release announcing its local subsidiary had filed an application for certification from the California Energy Commission. Added CEO Curtis VanWalleghem: “We look forward to working closely with the citizens of Kern County to earn their trust and support on our way to becoming a valued member of the community.” Besides widening Kern’s already diverse energy portfolio, Hydrostor said, the project would create 30 to 40 good-paying, full-time jobs, plus 700 construction jobs, all without emissions.

Gem is slated to open in early 2026 after a four-year construction period, and thereafter generate property tax revenues and $500 million in regional economic benefits over its 50-year lifespan. The project has a little longer discharge capacity than a similar energy-storage proposal in San Luis Obispo that Hydrostor recently brought before the energy commission.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/compressed-air-energy-proposal-in-east-kern-comes-up-for-state-review/article_576b63ae-547f-11ec-88cd-7f4089f7bd01.html

MENDOTA TO HOST LARGEST GREEN HYDROGEN PLANT ON WEST COAST

Energy production is nothing new to the Central Valley. Oil production in the San Joaquin Valley boomed after the discovery of “black gold” on the Kern River in 1899. In 2018, the City of Fresno was recognized in a report by the Environment California Research & Policy Center as the U.S. city with the second-highest solar power generating capacity per person. According to the report, the city’s total solar power generation capacity ranked fourth among the state’s big cities ahead of Sacramento, San Francisco and Riverside.

Around 10 years ago, there were proposals from a French company — partnered with California businessmen and farmers — to build a nuclear power plant in Fresno. Those plans eventually fell through. An innovative energy company has announced it will expand to the West Coast with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art hydrogen production facility in Fresno County. Plug Power Inc., headquartered in New York, is a provider of hydrogen fuel cell turnkey solutions. Plug Power plans to build the largest green hydrogen production plant on the West Coast in Mendota.

The facility will use a 300-megawatt, zero-carbon solar farm to power equipment that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen through an electro-chemical process. When fully built, the plant will produce 30 metric tons of liquid green hydrogen, able to service customers from San Diego to Vancouver. In a press release from Plug Power released in late September, local officials including Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco and Lee Ann Eager, president and CEO of Fresno County Economic Development Corporation, praised Plug Power’s expansion to the area. “Green hydrogen represents the energy of the future and with this major announcement, Fresno County will soon plant its flag as the strategic center for California’s hydrogen economy,” Eager said. “This project is poetic justice for our region, which has struggled with persistent poor air quality, and will produce the zero-emission fuel needed to support the state’s renewable energy goals.”

Andy Marsh, president and CEO of Plug Power, joined the company in 2008 and is a prominent voice in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry. Marsh said the company made a commitment to be the first company to build a green hydrogen generation network across the U.S., and with California having one of the highest populations in the state — and with its aggressive environmental policies — it made sense to build here.

Plug Power’s California plant will join the company’s network of plants in New York, Tennessee and Georgia that will supply 500 tons per day of liquid green hydrogen by 2025. The plant in Mendota will cover about 20 acres. The plant will eventually expand beyond those 20 acres. “The solar farms want the plants to use their solar, and in an area like California there is going to be a lot of solar farms,” Marsh said. “In an area like the Central Valley with lots of solar, we are not going to be the only company to wants to come in and build a hydrogen plant. There will be other companies that follow us.”

Once the plant is constructed, Marsh said the company will be looking to provide hydrogen for trucks, fuel cells for forklift trucks, industrial applications, and putting hydrogen into natural gas pipelines. While there is discussion for the application of hydrogen fuel in the ag industry, Marsh said the technology is not as applicable in that arena yet. Currently, Marsh said places such as distribution centers, airports, seaports and other places where there a lot of vehicles going back and forth will be using a lot of hydrogen.

The environmental review for the plant is expected to be approved by the early 2023, with construction starting then. It is expected to be up and running in early 2024. The project will include construction of a new tertiary wastewater treatment plant in the City of Mendota, providing water for the community and supplying the full needs of the hydrogen plant.

Once in operations, there will be around 60 to 75 employees to start with, with those numbers eventually ramping up. Some of the jobs will include a plant manager, engineers, facility technicians, and truck drivers. “Hydrogen is part of California’s and the world’s efforts to reduce Co2 emissions, Plug Power has been doing it for 25 years and we are building out the first green hydrogen network for the United States and we are thrilled to be in the Central Valley,” Marsh said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/mendota-to-host-largest-green-hydrogen-plant-on-west-coast/

California’s first electric truck stop in the works

A California startup company has announced plans to build the state’s first solar-powered truck stop for heavy-duty, Class 8 electric trucks. WattEV Inc. said it is slated to receive a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build the facility in Bakersfield, California. Additionally, the company said it has raised $6 million in private equity seed funding led by Canon Equity. Groundbreaking is expected in late October.

The announcement was made at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo 2021 in Long Beach, California, on Aug. 30. WattEV, based in El Segundo, California, said the CEC should approve the grant Sept. 8 at its monthly business meeting. “Our successful private-equity seed funding, in addition to the grant awarded for this project, are important milestones in our effort to deploy 12,000 electric heavy-duty trucks on the road by 2030,” said Salim Youssefzadeh, CEO of WattEV. “The electric truck stop in Bakersfield is the first step toward our commitment to help build the charging infrastructure network necessary to accelerate the heavy-duty trucking sector’s transition to electric drive,” he added. Partners joining WattEV and the CEC on the Bakersfield electric truck stop project include the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the Central California Asthma Collaborative, Greenlots, Power Electronics and several others.

In addition to the Bakersfield project, WattEV is in the planning stages for similar projects in San Bernardino and Gardena in Southern California. Both electric truck stops will serve the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, as well as the warehouses fed by goods coming through the ports. WattEV has also secured purchase incentive vouchers through the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, and plans to initially buy six VNR Electric Class 8 trucks from Volvo Group. WattEV has has applied for 24 more electric truck HVIP vouchers for future purchases. All told, WattEV plans to run its own fleet of 30 heavy-duty electric trucks by the end of 2022. The fleet will be deployed under contract with several Southern California fleet customers.

The first fleet partnership is with Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI), which serves the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and has a presence in Bakersfield. TTSI will be offering electric transport freight services to shippers in Southern California on routes served by WattEV’s platform. To help accelerate the transition to electric goods movement, WattEV is developing an advanced software platform — trucks-as-a-service, or TaaS — designed specifically for the use of electric trucks within its network of charging stations on designated routes. The TaaS platform will offer an all-inclusive, charge-per-mile formula that will enable a transporter to use an electric truck to move goods normally handled with diesel trucks on the routes selected by shippers.

https://www.thetrucker.com/trucking-news/equipment-tech/charging-solutions-californias-first-electric-truck-stop-in-the-works

Fresno County lands what reportedly will be West Coast’s largest green hydrogen plant

Fresno County will be home to what a New York company says will be the largest green hydrogen production facility on the West Coast. Officials with Plug Power, headquartered in Latham, New York, said in their Monday announcement that the plant — near Mendota — is expected to produce 30 metric tons of liquid green hydrogen daily within about four years.

The facility will use a new 300 megawatt zero-carbon solar farm to power 120 megawatts of Plug Power’s state-of-the-art PEM electrolyzers, which split water into hydrogen and oxygen through an electro-chemical process, the announcement stated. The California plant would join the company’s growing national network of facilities in New York, Tennessee and Georgia that officials say will supply 500 tons per day of liquid green hydrogen by 2025 — replacing, the company states, 4.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and 1,000 tons per day globally by 2028.

Work will include construction of a new tertiary wastewater treatment plant in Mendota that will provide recycled water for residents and supply the full needs of the plant. The company hopes to break ground in early 2023 and complete commissioning in early 2024. The company announcement did not specify where the hydrogen plant will be built nor how many people might be hired locally. “The project is a huge win for the city of Mendota, and we are very happy to see this significant investment in clean energy in our community,” Mendota Mayor Rolando Castro said. “This green-hydrogen plant will provide full-time, high-paying jobs for our people. The city will also get a new wastewater treatment plant to provide recycled water for the city and all the needs of the hydrogen plant.”

https://energycentral.com/news/fresno-county-lands-what-reportedly-will-be-west-coasts-largest-green-hydrogen-plant

Major energy storage project proposed near Lebec along California Aqueduct

California’s energy future keeps pointing to Kern. The latest 10-figure energy storage proposal in the county is a damlike “pumped hydro” project connected to the California Aqueduct that would store and release 3,500 gigawatt-hours of power per year on or near Tejon Ranch.

There’s no money yet for it or a similar proposal the same Los Angeles County engineering and development group disclosed in December that would be located next to Isabella Lake. But the latter has attracted interest from one of the world’s largest oil producers, the developer’s managing director said. “The market is very active right now,” Victor Rojas at Walnut-based Premium Energy Holdings LLC said. “There is a lot of storage activity investment and the oil companies are very active, too, and they are seizing now, moving into this energy transmission business.” He declined to identify the oil company his firm is talking with but noted the U.S. Department of Energy is interested, too.

Both of Premium’s pumped-storage proposals are engaged in a federal application process that will succeed only if they can secure big investments — probably a mix of public and private money repaid in time by utility ratepayers — for the kind of infrastructure critical to California’s aggressive transition to renewable energy.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/major-energy-storage-project-proposed-near-lebec-along-california-aqueduct/article_fd846a78-1db7-11ec-949b-0b62703c0410.html

Bakersfield looks to add 30 electric vehicle charging stations throughout city

The Bakersfield City Council is poised to dramatically expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations available on public property. At Wednesday’s meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on an agreement that would add 30 ChargePoint charging stations to six city-owned areas of Bakersfield, including the 18th Street and Eye Street parking structure. That’s a big jump from the four city-operated charging stations currently operating out of the Amtrak Station downtown.

There are 71 charging locations throughout Kern County, with 42 in Bakersfield, meaning the six proposed locations would increase the total by around 15 percent. However, those locations are in places like hospital parking lots and car dealerships, potentially unavailable to the general public. If approved, the new charging stations would be installed at The Park at Riverwalk, the parking lot across the street from Cal State Bakersfield on Stockdale Highway, City Hall South, Mechanics Bank Arena, McMurtrey Aquatic Center, and the downtown parking structure.

Unlike the Amtrak electric vehicle charging stations downtown, the new additions will be Level 2 chargers, which charge faster than Level 1. The city is taking advantage of funds provided by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the California Energy Commission to complete the proposal. The $266,000 combined will fund around 80 percent of the project. The funding is just one part of a state plan to put more electric vehicles on the road. California has a goal of 5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2030 and 250,000 charging stations by 2025.

As more and more funding becomes available for zero transmission projects, these proposed charging stations could be just the beginning. “It’s going to really expand. We are talking with different privately-owned gas stations that are interested in putting them in,” said Linda Urata, a regional planner for Kern Council of Governments who focuses on electric vehicles. “You’re going to see huge growth in the next two years.”

Lately, charging options have increased for electric vehicle owners. In January, the state Department of Transportation opened nine new stations throughout the Central Valley, including one at the Tejon Pass and in Delano and the city of McFarland recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new station. More are planned for cities such as Arvin, Wasco and Shafter. But questions remain about how popular the charging stations will be. Kern COG Executive Director Ahron Hakimi described demand for the products as a “chicken and egg” scenario. Consumers may be more liable to buy an electric vehicle if more charging stations were available, but more charging stations might not be built without the purchase of more vehicles. “In the three years that I owned the Chevy Volt, I think I charged it, other than home, less than five times. That gives you an example of how many chargers are out there,” he said. “If we want as a society more EVs, than we absolutely have to invest in more places to charge.”

The city plans to watch how often each charging station is used to determine if more are necessary. “It’s a trial project,” said Assistant Public Works Director Stuart Patteson. “I’m sure they will get used. The intent is for them to be entered into whatever databases exist that direct people to EV charging stations, but until we have them in place for a while, it’s hard to say how well they will be utilized.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bakersfield-looks-to-add-30-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-throughout-city/article_b4a0cdb4-a22a-11eb-9cf4-c73267a32dd6.html