Belovida Santa Clara lights up senior housing with solar energy

Belovida Santa Clara, a part of Charities Housing’s management portfolio, is a 27 unitSolar panels on top of the roof senior housing development that opened in 2009 on approximately half an acre of land in Santa Clara. With a facility of that size, energy costs were high for Belovida Santa Clara. The non-profit organization wanted to install solar to lower its energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint, but didn’t have the funding.

Through our Neighborhood Solar Program we were able to award Belovida with a grant of $80,000 to install a solar system. Belovida selected Solar Technologies to install its 32kW solar system, which was completed in May 2019. The system now offsets the energy consumption of the building by about 66% per year!

Tony Rodriguez, Charities Housing facilities manager says, “Our mission is to develop, preserve and manage high quality affordable housing for low-income individuals and their families while creating developments that contribute positively to communities. With the extra savings from the solar system, it will allow us to continue our mission.” We are excited to have been able to play a part in helping the staff at Belovida significantly reduce its energy bill so that the savings can be reinvested in the community.

If you’re interested in learning about some of the other solar systems installed under this program, check out our blog post on the Pacific Autistic Center for Education and YMCA of Silicon Valley.

Keeping up with the PACE of solar energy

When Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE) bought its building in 2007, the staff Kurt Ohlfs, Pacific Autism Center for Education executive director standing next to solar panels on their facility's roofknew right away it was a perfect place for solar panels. But knowing the cost of a solar system, they also knew they weren’t going to be able to afford it on their own.

In the summer months, PACE worked to save energy and money by adjusting their thermostat. As part of their program to enhance the lives of people impacted with autism, students learn how to adjust to the sensory environment in the building. Because of this, PACE staff had to make sure the air conditioner was comfortable for the students.

After PACE learned it was nominated for our Neighborhood Solar Program, the staff were excited that they might receive a solar system. Neighborhood Solar Program participants who pay into the program vote on the nominated organizations to decide where we spend the money. After the votes were counted and the recipients were selected, we contacted PACE to deliver the good news.  Under the program, the organization received an $80,000 grant to install solar at its facility. PACE was able to provide an additional $50,000 to install a much larger system. The grant brought their investment in a solar system down to just 3 years, making it a good investment of their money. PACE selected Solar Technologies to install their 47kW solar system, which was complete in May 2019. Without receiving the grant to assist with their big purchase, PACE would have never considered installing a system.

Kurt Ohlfs, Pacific Autism Center for Education executive director says, “It’s a real heart felt thank you to the folks at Silicon Valley Power who made this program happen, which opened up this incredible opportunity to non-profit programs. It’s a real full circle community effort.”

With the savings on its electric bill, PACE can reinvest back into its programs while doing its part to help the environment by using renewable energy.

If you’re interested in learning about some of the other solar systems installed under this program, check out our blog post on the YMCA of Silicon Valley.

learned it was nominated for our Neighborhood Solar Program, the staff were excited that they might receive a solar system. Neighborhood Solar Program participants who pay into the program vote on the nominated organizations to decide where we spend the money. After the votes were counted and the recipients were selected, we contacted PACE to deliver the good news.  Under the program, the organization received an $80,000 grant to install solar at its facility. PACE was able to provide an additional $50,000 to install a much larger system. The grant brought their investment in a solar system down to just 3 years, making it a good investment of their money. PACE selected Solar Technologies to install their 47kW solar system, which was complete in May 2019. Without receiving the grant to assist with their big purchase, PACE would have never considered installing a system.

Kurt Ohlfs, Pacific Autism Center for Education executive director says, “It’s a real heart felt thank you to the folks at Silicon Valley Power who made this program happen, which opened up this incredible opportunity to non-profit programs. It’s a real full circle community effort.”

With the savings on its electric bill, PACE can reinvest back into its programs while doing its part to help the environment by using renewable energy.

If you’re interested in learning about some of the other solar systems installed under this program, check out our blog post on the YMCA of Silicon Valley.

Solar for everyone – what’s the right fit for you?

There’s no doubt you’ve heard a lot of buzz around solar energy in our sunny state of Solar Panels Close UpCalifornia. Solar panels have become a popular way to produce carbon-free energy with minimal impact on the environment. Whether you own or rent, there are options for you to “go solar”.

Option 1: Purchase and install solar panels onto your home

Installing solar panels on your roof is a great way to offset your home’s electricity use in real time. Solar panels can reduce your monthly energy bill since the more energy your system produces, the less energy you have to purchase from us. Plus, if your solar system produces more electricity than your home needs, we will buy the excess electricity from you through a process called Net Metering. Unfortunately, purchasing and installing solar panels on your home can have a few barriers.

Finding a licensed solar contractor and sifting through cost estimates can seem daunting. Rooftop solar panels also have a high initial cost and are limited to homeowners who have the right orientation of roof and enough space to cover the amount of electricity they need. If you want to go solar, we have a variety of resources on our website to help you through the process, including a guide on what to look for when considering a solar system.

Option 2: Make your electricity bill greener

You can support renewable energy initiatives and pay for green energy without installing anything at your home. Our Santa Clara Green Power option allows renters and homeowners to match their monthly electricity usage with 100% solar energy without any installation of equipment or contract commitments. Whether you own or rent, you can choose to source your power from new solar systems from right here in California. When you enroll in Santa Clara Green Power you’re not only reducing your environmental impact but you’re also encouraging new solar energy on the grid.

Whichever option you choose, we are here to support you!

Empowering YMCA to save money with new solar system!

For more than 15 years, we have been assisting non-profits with installing solar systemsYMCA of Silicon Valley solar dashboard shows how it tracks its energy production in real-time. The graphic shows lifetime solar energy generated is 28,301 kWh, the impact of the production, which is equivalent to 48,922 miles in a car will not be driven, 2,251 gallons of gasoline will not be used, 333 mature trees will have grown, 21,868 pounds will not be burned and 15,370 pounds of garbage will be recycled. The solar system size is 30 kW.Image shows the current weather at 69 degrees Fahrenheit on August 21, 2019, the sunrise at 6:29 a.m., the sunset at 7:53 p.m., the local time at 10:09 a.m., the time at the site at 10:09 a.m. and it shows that the online dashboard was developed by SunPower. on their facilities through our Neighborhood Solar Program. Participating Santa Clara residents and businesses voluntarily donated $5-10 per month respectively through a charge on their electric bill. A small percentage of Santa Clara Green Power purchases were also donated. All funds were matched by our Public Benefits Program, allowing us to award more than $1 million dollars in grants to 13 non-profit organizations in Santa Clara. These grants enable the recipients to reduce their energy costs and use those savings to reinvest in the community.

Neighborhood Solar Program participants nominate potential recipients and then have the opportunity to vote on who receives a system. YMCA of Silicon Valley (YMCA) was selected, which turned out to be a “win” for the organization. Installing a solar system on its roof was always a goal for YMCA, but the organization was never able to justify the expense, as its first priority is to use its funding to benefit the community. With pure excitement and appreciation, YMCA was awarded $80,000 to install a solar system.

YMCA selected Solar Technologies to install a 30.5 kW DC solar system, and since the installation in March 2019, they have seen a 20 percent reduction on their energy bill. By tracking their production through an online tool powered by SunPower, YMCA can see real-time statistics such as how much power is being generated on a daily basis, the lifetime solar energy generated by the system and their impact to the greater environmental good.

David Fisch, YMCA of Silicon Valley vice president of property says, “YMCA of Silicon Valley really appreciates Silicon Valley Power’s assistance and the support provided along the way to install a solar system at no cost. It’s a great investment for the community, as those savings go back to programs for kids and adults who otherwise couldn’t afford to participate.”

YMCA has always prided itself with being an environmental steward and its building is a LEED gold certified green building. With their overall environmental efforts and the incredible savings from their new solar system, we were excited to partner with YMCA of Silicon Valley to reduce its carbon footprint and energy bill so it can use the savings to reinvest in health and wellness programs and educational and enrichment classes for the community.

From the Azores to Santa Clara

Paulo Apolinario holding a soccer ball with his son and daughter standign next to him on a soccer fieldLess than 1,000 miles off the coast of Europe lie the Azores, a small, Portuguese island chain known for its beautiful landscapes, relaxed lifestyle and delicious cuisine. These islands are paradise for any visitor, but they hold a special place in Paulo Apolinario’s heart.

“The Azores are my favorite place in the world,” explained Paulo. “My family is from the Azores – my dad is from São Jorge Island. Whenever I go to the Azores, I feel a strong connection to the land and my family. They are isolated islands in the middle of the ocean, so you are able to escape from the rest of the world and live life at a slower pace.”

Back home, Paulo lives in San Jose with his wife and two kids. He has always lived in the Bay Area, even attending Santa Clara University. After college, Paulo pursued a career in the health care industry, working for Kaiser Permanente in San Jose. But when a job opportunity working for us at SVP presented itself, Paulo jumped at the chance to join our team. He felt that our utility was the perfect place for him to apply his educational background in economics to his career, while working where he is constantly learning from his peers, growing professionally and contributing to California’s energy future.

Paulo originally joined our team as a power system scheduler and trader. In this position, he learned how the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) power markets and the electrical grid operated. He was responsible for forecasting, scheduling, purchasing, selling and managing electric resources in the hour-ahead and real-time markets. Today, Paulo works on a small team as a senior resource analyst, working on energy resource planning and procurement. He makes sure that future potential resources work well with the mission, vision and values laid out in our Strategic Plan.

“My job is really interesting because I am able to evaluate potential new resources to see if they would be a good fit for the utility. It is thrilling to be a part of something that contributes to the future of the utility – it keeps my job exciting!”

Outside of work, Paulo can be found spending time with his two children. They bond over sports – his son is a competitive soccer player, while his daughter enjoys taking swimming classes. This past summer, Paulo was able to take his children to the Azores for the first time. “They had never been before, so I was excited to be able to show them around and let them connect with their heritage.”

Drive electric with a rebate of $3,500

The American Public Power Association has teamed up with Nissan to offer rebates to Nissan-LEAF-Rebate - August 2019public power communities on the all-electric 2019 Nissan LEAF.

As a public power community, Silicon Valley Power customers are eligible for the Nissan rebate of up to $3,500 when purchasing the LEAF standard edition, and $2,500 when buying the ePlus vehicle. But you must hurry, as the offer ends September 30, 2019!

For more program information and to download the flyer, visit the American Public Power Association’s website. Bring the flyer, proof of eligible residency, and the most current copy of your Silicon Valley Power electric bill to your local Nissan dealer. You can find a dealer by visiting the Nissan website.

On average, it costs less than a third as much to drive an EV, compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline. EVs produce zero direct emissions, which improves air quality, enhances public health, and reduces environmental impact. To learn more about the benefits of EVs, visit our website. You can find information to help determine if driving an EV is right for you, locate public charging stations, and get information on our EV charging station rebates.

Here comes the sun – is your home prepared?

Summer has arrived and we are here to help keep both your house temperature and Fanutility bills down. Here are a few ways you can prepare your home for the summer heat:

Turn off your air conditioner. It’s easy for your summer energy bill to add up when you use an air conditioner. There are other ways to keep your home cool, like drawing window shades during the day to keep the sun from heating up your home, or sleeping with your windows open at night to let cool air in. Fans can also help people feel up to four degrees cooler indoors. Consider installing a ceiling fan, and take advantage of our $35 rebate.

Steer clear of heat‑producing appliances. Your home can produce heat in unexpected ways. For example, 85‑90 percent of the electricity consumed by incandescent lights is turned into heat. You can combat this by upgrading to energy‑efficient lighting or by turning your lights off as much as possible. Ovens can also quickly add unwanted heat to kitchens. Instead, think about cooking with your stove or microwave when possible. Finally, air‑drying clothing outdoors instead of using a clothes dryer will both reduce excess in‑home heat and help to save on energy costs.

Insulate and seal your home. Once your house is nice and cool, you will want to keep that cool air in and the hot air out. One easy way to do this is to seal any air leaks or cracks found in walls, ceilings or floors. You can typically seal these air leaks by weather‑stripping doors, installing foam gaskets or applying spray foam or caulking. Installing or increasing attic insulation can also prevent cold air from seeping out through your attic. We offer an attic insulation rebate of 10 cents per square foot of insulation installed.

Check out our Energy‑Saving Tips to learn more ways you can make your home as cool and efficient as possible this summer. We also offer free home energy audits to our customers looking to reduce energy consumption, improve in-home comfort and reduce energy bills.

Students learn to build electric circuits

We recently had the opportunity to partner with the Santa Clara Unified School District on its first annual STEAM Expo, which was held on May 18th at Mission College in Santa Clara. Our staff worked with Santa Clara students who were all excited to be learning new things and trying hands-on activities. Due to the poor weather, attendance was much higher than anticipated and the entire event had to be moved indoors, but everyone was prepared to handle the large crowd.

Over the course of the day, we were able to teach over 300 students how to build simple circuits to make a small holiday LED light bulb light up. We worked with the students to demonstrate, instruct, and brainstorm creative ways to make the simple circuits come to life. Occasionally when students ran into problems such as the copper tape ripping, they had the opportunity to learn how to splice it together, just like lineworkers splice wires in the field. The activity taught students about how electric systems work and we were excited to see them gain a new appreciation for what it takes to turn on a light bulb. We are proud to have sponsored this event and look forward to the STEAM Expo 2020.

A job that was meant to be

Craig Lindquist has always enjoyed hands‑on work. He spent his early life dreaming of aCraig Lindquist photo skiing career that would both allow him to work outdoors and give him a sense of excitement. One day, some friends from his volunteer firefighting team told him about their jobs working as lineworkers. Craig was immediately intrigued and knew that this was what he was meant to do.

He began his tenure in the utility industry at PG&E working in its gas department, but he soon switched over to the electric side of the business to pursue his dream of becoming a lineworker. Once his mentor left PG&E for a job with us at Silicon Valley Power, he started to research our organization.

Craig loved what he found – he was amazed that we are able to provide a significant amount of electricity to major Silicon Valley companies while maintaining the feel of a small, family‑owned business. “Silicon Valley Power is the type of family environment I was looking for in a job,” reflected Craig. “I wanted to do the job that I loved while working for an organization that still feels like a ‘mom and pop shop’.” It was obvious to Craig that joining our team would be his next career move.

Craig has now been a part of our utility for 16 years. He currently works as a crew foreman, traveling to major job sites to coordinate with contractors and our crews to keep projects running smoothly and efficiently. In this role, Craig is also responsible for overseeing the safety of 30 lineworkers each day. He appreciates the fact that his job lets him serve as a leader and mentor to the younger team members, but occasionally still elects to climb electric poles himself to feel that same sense of excitement he was looking for when he first joined the industry.

Craig’s adventurous, outdoorsy tendencies extend outside of work. “I love to golf, go to the beach and ski. I also ride motorcycles – I am in the process of building a motorcycle that is going to be in a show, and I hope to take it to race at the Bonneville Salt Flats Race Track [in Utah].” His sense of adventure has also taken him around the world to South America and Europe, with Japan and New Zealand next on his travel bucket list.

Silicon Valley Power recognized as a top utility in reliability

Safety and reliability are always our highest priorities. Our success in these two key RP3 Award 2019areas was recently recognized when we were designated as a Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) at the Gold Level by the American Public Power Association during the Association’s annual Engineering & Operations Conference. This designation, which lasts for three years, acknowledges public power utilities that excel in four major areas of operation: reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement. It is a high honor that reflects our continued commitment to our customers and employees, as well as our leadership in the Santa Clara community.

We are proud to have earned our place as a top-tier public power utility. We will continue to strive for the same standard of excellence in all areas of our organization. To further this mission, we recently developed our 2018 Strategic Plan. With help from our community, customers, City Council and City executive leadership, we outlined our objectives for the next 10 years. The plan paves the way for our team to continue providing safe, reliable service to our customers. It will also guide us as we develop innovative and sustainable solutions to any challenges we may face. Our Strategic Plan will enable the growth we need to continue standing out as a top-tier public power entity.