Thinking About Buying an EV? Here’s All You Need to Know About Programs and Tax Breaks.

Panorama of EVs

In the City of Santa Clara, we love electric vehicles (EVs). But we know that for first time buyers, navigating the available EV tax breaks and programs can be a head scratcher. Here are a few resources to tell you everything you need to know:

Federal: A nationwide EV tax credit is available for up to $7,500 if you purchase an EV. The tax credit amount varies based on the type of EV and its battery size. Federal EV credits will expire separately for each manufacturer after it sells 200,000 qualified vehicles, and some makes and models will also decrease in credit value over time before hitting this cap. The Department of Energy maintains a list so you can easily see what credits are available for the vehicle you choose to purchase.

California: Through the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, California residents are eligible to save up to $7,000 on an EV purchase. Unlike other states, California takes income into consideration with its tax credit, so low‑income residents are eligible for an increased rebate. Simply submit an application within 18 months of purchasing or leasing your EV to qualify.

Santa Clara: Once you have finalized the purchase of your EV, you can look to us for rebates on Level 2 EV chargers. We offer rebates of up to $750 per charger to help residents fund their EV charging equipment purchase. Rebates are available for residential homes, multifamily housing, schools and nonprofits. Visit our EV Charging Station Rebate page to learn more about the rebate and submit an application.

If you are thinking about buying or leasing an EV, we encourage you to purchase as soon as you can in order to receive the maximum tax credits and rebates possible. Visit our EV page to learn more about EVs, read our EV FAQs and view a map of EV charging stations throughout the city.

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A Faster, Electric Commute

At Silicon Valley Power, we support projects that help the environment, grow the local economy and make our residents’ lives easier. Our most recent effort is the Caltrain Electrification Project, in partnership with Caltrain. This project will introduce new, electric trains to replace some of the current fossil fuel‑consuming trains that run between the San Francisco Fourth and King Street Station and the San Jose Tamien Station.

Not only will the new electric trains be more environmentally friendly, but they will also be faster, more reliable and quieter. Caltrain predicts that electric trains will lead to a 21 percent increase in ridership by 2040, with a corresponding reduction in the number of cars on the road, leading to a whopping 619,000 vehicle miles of reduced traffic congestion and 176,000 metric tons of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Electrification will undoubtedly be a giant leap forward for a commuter train system that started in 1863 and has undergone several evolutions before becoming the Caltrain that we know today in the 1980s.

According to Caltrain, the project is expected to generate $2.5 million in regional economic benefits, and the work is expected to be completed in 2022. As part of this project, our crews will be working near Santa Clara Caltrain tracks on the west side of the City through May 2019. Residents and businesses will be notified in advance of planned outages in their neighborhoods. Our current expectation is that we may need to access a small number of properties during these planned outages to complete the work. If this is the case, affected residents will receive notice ahead of time.

If you have questions about the Caltrain Electrification Project, visit calmod.org/resources, email Caltrain at calmod@caltrain.com or call them at 650-399-9659.

There’s No Place Like Home

While Ted Salazar’s previous jobs took him around the world to Europe and China, his Ted Salazar with SVP Logo Signfavorite place is Santa Clara, California. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Ted settled down in Santa Clara with his wife in 1998. He always wanted to work for Silicon Valley Power, and was ecstatic to join our team in 2018.

Working here at SVP is an ideal job for Ted because supporting the electric grid is a dream come true for him. As an SVP electric program manager, Ted works together with his fellow team members to maintain and update Santa Clara’s electric utility system. He loves that his job enables him to learn something new from his coworkers every day, who he considers experts in their respective fields.

Although Ted is new to the utility sector, his background in electrical engineering and electric systems makes him an asset to our team. “I have designed and managed hardware, software and firmware product systems my entire career,” explained Ted. He has led cross‑functional industrial product system design teams for the majority of his career, both in the United States and abroad. His past team together designed the future technology solutions that companies needed for next‑generation products, like distinctive water and electric meters, unique firewalls and the world’s smallest programmable logic controllers and sensors. These products are similar to the type of equipment utilities use every day.

Ted is a self‑proclaimed “geeky athlete”. He played baseball throughout his childhood and was even invited to try out for the Colorado Rockies. And today, when Ted is not at work, he loves to take advantage of the great activities his backyard has to offer. He enjoys making an annual 5.3‑mile, 2,490‑foot‑elevation biking trip up Montebello Road in Cupertino with coworkers, friends, and family bold enough to tackle the ride.

At the end of the day, Ted is a family man. When sharing some of his favorite moments with his family, Ted included, “my wedding day, the day my son first beat me in a running race, my middle daughter having the courage to drive the car and my youngest daughter teaching herself how to solve the Rubik’s Cube.” He appreciates that his role here at SVP allows him to spend as much time as possible with his family.

Show Your Home Some Love This Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, remember to extend some love to your home! You can easily giveIMG_0106 your heating system a break by sealing any air leaks, helping to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Fixing air leaks is an inexpensive and simple DIY project – your wallet will send its love right back to you!

If you feel a cold draft flowing through your home this winter, start by checking these common locations where air infiltration can occur:

  • Doors – Do you notice any light coming from around or under your doors? If so, you probably have an air leak. Replace your door’s weather-stripping or door shoe threshold.
  • Light switches and outlets – Switches and outlets on exterior walls can let cold air in. Apply foam gaskets around switches and outlets to provide insulation.
  • Attic access hatches – Attic access hatches are seldom weather‑stripped. Install foam gaskets around the edge of the attic opening to stop heat from leaking out of your home and into your attic.
  • Plumbing locations – Wherever a pipe protrudes through a wall, air can flow. Spray foam sealant between the drywall and the pipe to help prevent air leakage.
  • Windows – While most windows are weather-stripped or caulked, the original stripping or caulking could be getting old and losing its effect. Apply new caulking and weather‑stripping so no drafts come from your windows.

Once you have identified where your draft is coming from, you can read step‑by‑step instructions on how to weatherproof your house by viewing our Weatherization Tips or Air Sealing Basics fact sheets. You can also learn about other DIY home upgrades by viewing our Energy-Savings Tips fact sheets.

What Are Those Big Nets?

Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed large nets hanging over street PG&E Nets Across Montague Expyintersections north of the Bayshore freeway. While these nets may look like flying trapeze safety nets, unfortunately you will not see any acrobats flying through the Santa Clara skies.

The nets are actually being used as a safety precaution for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) crew members. PG&E is currently upgrading some of its existing transmission lines, conductors, and insulators in order to meet growing customer load needs. Large nets are installed during these upgrades as a safety precaution for line workers on the job. In addition to the nets, you may also see PG&E trucks and crews working in your neighborhood as a part of the upgrades.

The project is scheduled to be completed in April 2019. If you have any questions or want any more information about the upgrades, please email ElectricReliability@pge.com.

Visit our Projects page on our website to stay up to date on all of our current projects throughout the city.

A routine inspection is anything but routine

While doing a routine inspection of a manhole to locate empty conduits for a construction project, our crews found something unexpected. A skunk was trapped inside the manhole. It appears that it accessed the manhole by crawling into an empty conduit and following it to the manhole, but then did not know how to get back out. Luckily for the skunk, our crews came along and were able to rescue it. With the help of Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA), they lowered a cage into the manhole and enticed the hungry skunk into the cage with a can of cat food. Once secure in the cage, the skunk was lifted out of the manhole and SVACA staff released the skunk nearby. We hope it learned its lesson and won’t be exploring any more empty conduits.

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Protect Yourself from Utility Scam Artists

Scammers can target anyone. You may receive a call from someone requesting protect yourself from scamsfraudulent payments for your utility bills. The best way to identify scammers is to familiarize yourself with commonly used utility scam tricks.

We have identified a few red flags and tips to help you identify scams:

  • We will never ask you to pay your utility bill with a prepaid card or gift card.
  • Caller ID can be falsified – scam callers may fake a Silicon Valley Power or City of Santa Clara phone number.
  • We will never ask you to make your utility payment at a grocery or convenience store.
  • If a caller asks for personal information or a payment, do not provide it.

If you receive a suspicious utility call, hang up immediately and report the crime to the Santa Clara Police Department nonemergency number at (408) 615-5580 or report the crime on the City of Santa Clara website.

If you are concerned about your account status, call the City of Santa Clara Municipal Services Department (Utility Billing) at (408) 615-2300.

Keeping It in the Family: Growing A Career and a Community Network at SVP

Working in the utility sector runs in Shreya Kodnadu’s family. Growing up, Shreya machu picchu - shreya solovisited substations and generation facilities in Bangalore, India, where her father worked. She took this passion with her to her undergraduate studies in Bangalore and then to Washington State University in 2010, where she received her master’s degree. Then, after more than three years as a protection engineer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Washington, and a stint at Pennsylvania Power and Light, Shreya joined SVP in 2016 as a protection electrical engineer.

At SVP, Shreya works on programming and testing protective relays and analyzing power outage data. In her daily role, Shreya performs power system studies, compiles data to makes complex calculations and analyses, and troubleshoots problems with utility equipment and facilities. She loves that her job focuses on safety, reliability and helping the community. Shreya explained, “My favorite part of the job is working for the community. I can make a difference and see how my work directly affects Santa Clara residents and businesses.”

With the strong relationships Shreya has built at SVP, she is happy to be a part of the SVP family. “Not only is SVP serving Santa Clara residents and businesses, but I really enjoy the tight‑knit community at work. I continue to learn from and enjoy the company of my amazing colleagues. Collectively we work toward the same mission. That is why I love coming to work every day.”

When Shreya is not at work, she enjoys traveling and exploring the great outdoors. Shreya shared, “I love taking advantage of the outdoors, both locally and abroad. In 2015, my husband and I went on a six‑day backpacking trip to Machu Picchu, Peru, and I loved every moment. We look forward to our next backpacking adventure in Patagonia this winter.”

May Your Holidays Be Efficient and Bright

2017 tree with LEDs

It’s that time of the year again! As you spend the holidays with friends and family, remember to be aware of your energy usage to avoid a higher than average bill. Energy consumption can easily sneak up on anyone during the holiday season. Here are a few tips to help make your holidays efficient and bright.

Lighting up the night sky.

If you choose to hang up lights this holiday season, consider purchasing ENERGY STAR® certified LED light strings. They brighten up your home without leaving you with a high energy bill. Not only do ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs, they are also brighter, more durable and last up to 10 times longer than other light strings.

LED lights are safer than traditional incandescent bulbs because they run at a lower temperature, but remember to check each string for frayed wires or damage before plugging them in. It is also important to turn lights off before going to bed or leaving your house. Consider purchasing a timer to automatically schedule when your lights turn off.

For additional tips on LED lights, read our Holiday LED Guide.

Staying warm and cozy.

Warming up next to a roaring fire is a favorite winter activity, but make sure to keep your flue damper closed when your fireplace is not in use – it should only be opened when a fire is burning. Eighty to ninety percent of the heat produced by a wood‑burning fireplace can be released through your chimney if the flue damper is incorrectly used.

Visit our Fireplace Efficiency Guide for more information. Always be sure to double‑check Spare the Air to make sure it is legal to use your fireplace on any given day.

Preparing your holiday feast.

Cooking a holiday meal can be stressful. Don’t let energy waste add to that stress. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has suggestions on how to save energy in your kitchen. Did you know that you should match the size of your stovetop burner to the size of the pan you cook with? For example, up to 40 percent of heat is wasted if you put a six‑inch pan on an eight‑inch burner. Choosing a microwave oven, slow cooker or electric skillet over your stovetop or oven is also an easy way to reduce your energy consumption.

To learn about additional ways to save energy year‑round, visit our 12 Easy Ways to Save Energy guide.

Does Energy Storage Make Sense for Your Home?

If you have ever thought about adding solar to your home, you have probably wondered, “How can I save my solar power to use when the sun is not shining?” Or maybe the last time you experienced a power outage, you thought, “What can I do the next time the power goes out?” Over the past few years, battery storage systems have become a more popular solution for these situations. In Santa Clara, residents can benefit from using battery storage systems in the following ways.

Backup Power

Battery storage provides backup power to keep day‑to‑day conveniences and necessities running. For example, battery storage allows your refrigerator to maintain its temperature during a power outage. This can prevent food from going bad. In emergencies there are various uses for battery storage, such as to provide uninterrupted power for the lights to stay on to keep household members safe. Lessening power downtime can also help prevent disruption for people, such as the elderly, who may depend on electricity for life support and mobility in their homes.

Solar System Pairing

Battery storage can help you maximize your solar system. Batteries are able to store the power your solar panels generate during the day for your home to use later at night. Without a battery, your home will need electricity from the grid when you use power in the evening. Pairing your solar system with a battery is the best way for your home to utilize all of the energy your solar system generates.

Battery Storage Power Options

Power for battery storage does not only have to come from solar. Battery storage can also be charged by the grid. Similar to solar‑powered battery storage, a battery that is charged with power from the grid can be used to provide electricity during a power outage. The concept is similar to that of a portable battery to charge your mobile phone. Whether the source is solar power or the grid, battery storage can provide the same convenience for your home.

Santa Clara residents should carefully evaluate their energy needs and interests when considering battery storage for their homes. For more information, view our previous blog post on the basics of battery storage.