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California Energy Commission awards $5.1M to 3 alt-fuels projects; increased biodiesel production and more fast chargers

The California Energy Commission approved more than $5.1 million in grants to Community Fuels, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to support their alternative fuels programs.

The grants were provided through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports the development and use of alternative and renewable fuel projects and advanced transportation technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels.

  • Community Fuels: Received more than $4 million to increase the efficiency and production rate at its biodiesel facility in Stockton. The plant converts waste grease, agricultural waste, and other low-grade feedstock into biodiesel fuel.

    The specific goal of the grant is to add an acid-catalyzed esterification system for processing high-FFA (free fatty acids) feedstocks. This will allow the facility to process additional waste feedstock streams which will maximize product yields, reduce the amount of chemicals and energy required for product purification, and increase the overall supply of biodiesel to California.

  • Sacramento Area Council of Governments: Received nearly $500,000 to install electric vehicle three fast chargers in three grocery store parking lots—one at each. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District will own, operate and maintain the charging stations.

    The chargers will meet three needs: publicly accessible charging, charging along major corridors in the region, and charging located near MUD (multi-unit dwellings) developments. If successful, this pilot will act as a model for future TakeCharge plan (plug-in electric vehicle infrastructure and readiness plan) implementation by existing and future property holders, businesses, and public agencies.

  • South Coast Air Quality Management District: Received approval of an amendment providing $420,000 to an existing $300,000 grant the district received in 2013 to install electric vehicle direct current fast charging stations. The additional funds will be used to install more versatile stations that can charge a wider variety of electric vehicles.

During the monthly business meeting, the five-member Commission also approved more than $6.7 million in no-interest loans for the Tulare City School District, Kern Community College District, and Yuba Community College District to install energy-efficient upgrades at their facilities.

Loans were provided through the Energy Conservation Assistance Act-Education (ECAA-Ed) program, which provides no-interest loans to community colleges and K-12 schools. The loans are funded by the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39). Funds must be used for energy projects and are paid back within 20 years of the loan date using energy cost savings.

  • Tulare City School District: Received a $3-million loan to install solar panels at its eight schools. The loan will be paid back in about 18 years and will save about $160,000 annually in utility costs.

  • Kern Community College District: Received a $3-million loan to install solar panels in its Porterville College parking lot. The loan will be paid back in about 19 years and will save about $150,000 annually in utility costs.

  • Yuba Community College District: Received $710,000 loan to install energy management systems for a well pump. The loan will be paid back in about nine years and will save about $75,000 annually in energy costs.

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