Southern California Gas Co. and the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced June 18 that they had completed two joint energy-efficiency projects that will reduce the campus' energy use by roughly 24 percent, saving an estimated $66,000/year or roughly 66,000 therms/year. The projects are part of California's Energy Efficiency Partnership program between state universities and investor-owned utilities, SoCal Gas said. The utility said it has supported more than 184 energy-efficiency projects on California campuses within the last five years that collectively have provided the universities with roughly $6 million in savings and more than $6.3 million in incentives through the state program.
Solar Frontier Americas has changed its name to Idemitsu Renewables, the company said June 22. It is the U.S.-based renewable-energy business of Idemitsu Kosan, a Japanese company created after the 2019 merger of Idemitsu and Showa Shell Sekiyu. The company, which has offices in California and Nevada, is a developer of solar and energy storage projects as well as an independent power producer.
Tritium and EvGateway on June 18 announced completion of a new electric-vehicle charging infrastructure project in Orange County's Buena Park. As part of their goal of expanding DC fast-charging locations throughout urban areas, the companies added four 50-kW-DC fast chargers in a high-traffic shopping center. The project is owned by EVForce, which obtained funding through the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project program.
EV Connect and Trillium on June 23 announced they have added fast-charging and Level 2 charging infrastructure to three Love's Travel Stops on State Highway 99. EV Connect is operating the stations; Trillium is constructing and managing them. These Central Valley locations in Ripon, Madera and Tulare are part of the California Electric Highway and West Coast Electric Highway networks, the latter of which has a goal of installing charging stations every 25 to 50 miles. Funding for the stations was provided through the California Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program.
Lyft is working with Environmental Defense Fund to move its fleet to fully electric and/or zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Vehicles in Lyft's Express Drive rental car program for ride-share drivers, its consumer rental car program and its autonomous-vehicle program will also be subject to the program, as well as its contract drivers' vehicles. The company said in its June 17 announcement that "meeting our commitment is on us, not on drivers." Lyft also released a document in which it acknowledges the transition "won't be an easy task for us because, today, the vast majority of vehicles used on the Lyft platform are personal vehicles owned by people who drive rideshare in their spare time." The company does not explicitly state how it intends to work with those drivers, but said it is developing a policy road map and tools designed "to help drivers electrify."
An advanced electrochemical technology, capable of converting the carbon dioxide found in raw biogas to create pipeline-quality renewable natural gas in a single-step process, has been demonstrated by SoCal Gas, Pacific Gas & Electric and Opus 12, the companies announced June 22. Specifically, they said improvements in the process' catalyst activity "could speed reactions by five times and nearly double conversion efficiency, making the technology commercially competitive with other new biogas upgrading methods." Researchers from the organizations used commercially available electrolyzer hardware to both scale up and test the technology, and intend to test it for longer periods at an existing biogas facility. The work is part of the utilities' development of technologies able to store excess renewable energy.
Sempra Energy on June 23 announced several executive appointments. Kevin Sagara moves from chairman and CEO of San Diego Gas & Electric to group president of Sempra Energy. He will lead the company's California utilities, SDG&E and SoCal Gas. Caroline Winn, who has been chief operating officer of SDG&E since 2017, is now CEO of SDG&E. Scott Drury, who had served as president of SDG&E since 2017, is now CEO of SoCal Gas. Bret Lane, currently CEO of SoCal Gas, is retiring after 38 years with the company. Sempra said the CEO appointments are effective Aug. 1, while Sagara's appointment as group president of Sempra Energy is effective June 27.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on June 22 appointed Tammy Cordova to fill a vacancy on the three-member Public Utilities Commission of Nevada. Cordova currently serves as chief counsel for PUCN regulatory staff. She will join Chair Hayley Williamson and member C.J. Manthe. The commission has been operating with only two members since former Chair Ann Pongracz decided in December not to seek reappointment. Cordova has worked at the commission since 2001. Prior to her employment there, she was an officer in the U.S. Navy. The PUCN has been all-female since 2018.
Sierra Club filed a motion June 19 with the Western District of Texas to halt construction of a natural gas pipeline that would run from the Permian Basin in New Mexico to the Gulf Coast of Texas [1:20-CV-460]. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved construction of the $2-billion, 428-mile Permian Highway Pipeline in February. Sierra Club alleges in its filing that the Corps did not perform the necessary environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The nonprofit Environment America on June 23 launched a new initiative aimed at advocating for a standard requiring solar panels on new residential construction across 10 states, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Environment America plans to propose legislation in all 10 states within the next two years. California in January became the first state to require solar on all new homes under three stories.
Enchant Energy of Farmington, New Mexico, on June 24 signed a deal with Bank of America to arrange 45Q tax-credit financing for Enchant's carbon capture, utilization and sequestration project at the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station. The credits have a value of $50 per ton of permanently sequestered carbon and $35 per ton for carbon used in enhanced oil recovery.