Saturday, 25 June 2022

Regional

At its Feb. 8 board meeting, Turlock Irrigation District, or TID, announced Project Nexus, a pilot project to build solar panel canopies over a portion of TID’s existing canals to operate and research a truly innovative, multi-benefit, water-energy nexus project that can further California’s push toward water and climate resiliency.

Project Nexus, a public-private-academic partnership among TID, the Department of Water Resources, Solar AquaGrid, and the University of California, Merced, could contribute to a more water resilient future for California and position the State to meet its ambitious clean energy goals.

The first-ever solar panel over canal development in the United States, the Project will assess reduction of water evaporation resulting from midday shade and wind mitigation; improvements to water quality through reduced vegetative growth; reduction in canal maintenance through reduced vegetative growth; and generation of renewable electricity.

Groundbreaking on Project Nexus is scheduled for this fall, with project completion expected in 2024 at multiple locations throughout the TID service territory in California’s Central Valley.

The project will use existing TID infrastructure on already-disturbed land to keep costs low and efficiency high while supporting the region’s sustainable farming tradition.

Additionally, energy storage will be installed to study how storage facilities can support the local electric grid when solar generation is suboptimal due to cloud cover.

The $20 million project is funded by the state of California.

“In our 135-year history, we’ve always pursued innovative projects that benefit TID water and power customers,” said TID Board President Michael Frantz. “There will always be reasons to say ‘no’ to projects like this, but as the first public irrigation district in California, we aren’t afraid to chart a new path with pilot projects that have potential to meet our water and energy sustainability goals.”

While Project Nexus, especially if expanded beyond a demonstration project, offers benefits to TID, the project is seen as a template with potential to be replicated elsewhere in the state to help California achieve its water and energy goals. The inspiration for Project Nexus comes from the concept presented in a recent University of California study, published last March in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The UC study illustrated that covering all of the approximately 4,000 miles of California canals could show a savings of 63 billion gallons of water annually, comparable to the amount needed to irrigate 50,000 acres of farmland or meet the residential water needs of more than 2 million people.

According to the study, the 13 gigawatts of solar power the solar panels would generate each year would equal about one sixth of the state’s current installed capacity.

“The Solar AquaGrid model provides a combined, integrated response to addressing our water-energy nexus,” said UC Merced Professor Roger Bales. “It helps address California’s underlying vulnerabilities while meeting both state and federal level commitments to produce renewable energy, preserve natural lands, lower greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.”

DWR will oversee administration of the project, will provide technical assistance, as well as serve as a research partner.

“We are excited to explore new efforts to advance the integration of renewable energy into our water supply delivery system,” said Karla Nemeth, director of DWR. “The project offers great potential, and we look forward to collaborating with our local and academic partners to advance these types of multi-benefit projects.”

Turlock Irrigation District has retained Bay Area development firm Solar AquaGrid as project developers and program managers for TID and Project Nexus. The two agencies have been collaborating since the project’s inception.

Solar AquaGrid originated the project after commissioning the UC Merced Study in 2015 and has facilitated collaboration among the various parties to bring Project Nexus to fruition.

“Research and common sense tell us that in an age of intensifying drought, it’s time to put a lid on evaporation,” said Jordan Harris, CEO of Solar AquaGrid. “We are excited to partner with Turlock Irrigation District, DWR, and UC Merced to develop this first-in-the-nation pilot project and bring needed innovation to the Central Valley. Our initial study revealed mounting solar panels over open canals can result in significant water, energy, and cost savings when compared to ground-mounted solar systems, including added efficiency resulting from an exponential shading/cooling effect. Now is the chance to put that learning to the test.”

The California Transportation Commission, or CTC, this week allocated $589 million for projects to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state.

Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, accounts for $302 million – more than half of the funding.

“This investment follows our ‘fix-it-first’ commitment to repair California’s aging infrastructure, while at the same time increasing transit and active transportation options,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “These projects will make our transportation system safer and more convenient for all users and create thousands of good paying jobs in the process.”

Projects approved this week include:

• Approximately $1.3 million toward pavement, guardrail, and retaining wall upgrades on U.S. 101 near Crescent City in Humboldt County.
• Approximately $11.7 million toward improvements at Pudding Creek Bridge No.10-0158 on Route 1 in Mendocino County.
• Approximately $1.1 million toward pavement, and guardrail upgrades on Route 1 from Philo Greenwood Road to north of Little Lake Road near Mendocino.
• Approximately $859,000 toward pavement and guardrail upgrades on Route 1 from north of Rockport Street to U.S. 101 near Leggett in Mendocino County.
• Approximately $4.1 million toward a multipurpose paved trail along Route 162 in Covelo in Mendocino County.

Caltrans also presented the CTC with the draft 2022 State Highway Operation and Protection Program, or SHOPP, at this week’s meeting.

Aimed at preserving the condition of the highway system, the draft 2022 SHOPP accounts for $17.3 billion in funding over a four-year period and includes projects for safety, restoration, road and bridge preservation, and other highway-related facilities.

The CTC will host a public hearing in February to receive comments on the draft SHOPP. All the comments will be considered in the final version that goes before the CTC for adoption at its March meeting.

All 2022 SHOPP projects are available on the Caltrans’ Ten-Year Project Book website.

SB 1 provides $5 billion in transportation funding annually split between the state and local agencies. Road projects progress through construction phases more quickly based on the availability of SB 1 funds, including projects that are partially funded by SB 1.

For more information about transportation projects funded by SB 1, visit www.RebuildingCA.ca.gov.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — Sen. Mike McGuire’s legislation to stop one of the largest environmental threats the North Coast has seen in decades — a proposal from a secret, clandestine operation that wants to ship millions of tons of coal through Northern California — passed with bipartisan support in the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

“The proposed toxic coal train is an environmental disaster in the making. The midwest coal would travel through the Sierras, across the Golden State through the heart of our thriving communities, ancient redwoods, and directly along the banks of the Eel and Russian rivers which are the main drinking water source for nearly one million residents,” McGuire said on Tuesday after the vote. “It is crucial we stop this dangerous proposal – it transcends politics, and I am grateful for the bipartisan support today.”

SB 307 will protect California by preventing all state funding from initiating improvements on the now defunct North Coast rail line north of the City of Willits.

Further, it bans state money from being spent on the buildout of any new potential bulk coal terminal facilities at the Port of Humboldt.

The bill passed in the Senate Transportation Committee with an 11-0 bipartisan vote.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for approval.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)’s H.R. 735, a bill to rename the Cotati Post Office in honor of Arturo L. Ibleto, the Pasta King.

The city of Cotati passed a resolution requesting that Congressman Thompson introduce this bill to honor Art’s life and legacy.

“Art Ibleto was the embodiment of the American Dream. Born in Italy, Art immigrated to Sonoma County after World War II where he met his wife, Vicki, and created a successful local restaurant and catering business,” said Thompson. “The Spaghetti Palace became an institutional landmark and local residents affectionately started to refer to him as the Pasta King. He raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable causes and his philanthropy knew no bounds. I was honored to know him and call him my friend — and it was my immense pleasure to make this tribute possible with my bill.”

The bill now heads to the Senate where it will be considered and then it will be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

The Hyatt Powerplant at Oroville Dam in Butte County, California. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources.

OROVILLE, Calif. — The Department of Water Resources announced Tuesday that hydropower generation has resumed at the Hyatt Powerplant at Oroville Dam in Butte County.

The power plant was taken offline Aug. 5 due to historic low lake levels driven by the state’s ongoing severe drought conditions. Recent storms have boosted lake levels and provided colder water in the reservoir to allow operations to resume.

Currently, the powerplant is utilizing one generating unit to produce electricity and supply it to the state’s electrical grid managed by the California Independent System Operator. Outflows from the plant and generation will initially remain low due to reduced agricultural demands and improved delta salinity conditions. DWR anticipates an average outflow of about 900 cubic feet per second which will generate approximately 30 megawatts of power. As lake levels rise and demands increase, additional units will be brought back online.

“This is a significant milestone as California sees some relief from drought conditions,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Providing clean hydropower to the state energy grid allows DWR to assist in meeting the state’s clean energy goals.”

DWR completed major maintenance activities while the powerplant was offline to ensure the plant maintains its reliability and is available for water deliveries and power generation. DWR continues to manage Lake Oroville to balance storage needs with requirements for Delta outflows, water quality, and public health and safety requirements in an effort to conserve as much storage as possible in the event of another dry year.

To learn more about DWR’s power production operations, visit https://water.ca.gov/What-We-Do/Power.

Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin is urging motorists to avoid nonessential mountain travel until weather conditions improve.

Caltrans has closed 45 state highways since December 24 due to record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada.

While Caltrans has reopened 29 highways — including Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50, the main gateways to Lake Tahoe — roadway conditions remain challenging with extensive delays and chain controls in effect.

“The safety of the traveling public is always Caltrans’ top priority,” said Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin. “Please avoid traveling to the Sierra unless absolutely necessary. If you must travel, make sure you’re prepared.”

Under the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, or CalOES, has activated the State Operations Center to monitor storm conditions and coordinate all necessary assistance.

Caltrans is coordinating with CalOES, the California Highway Patrol, local law enforcement, the Nevada Department of Transportation and the National Weather Service to respond to changing conditions and keep roadways safe for travel.

In response to the record snowfall, Caltrans has redirected all available crews into the mountains to reopen roadways, bringing operators from as far away as the Bay Area to assist.

The department has 1,350 field staff clearing mountain highways, working 24/7 in 12-hour shifts, and has deployed more than 600 snowplows statewide.

Caltrans has recorded more than $22 million in storm damage to state highways during the current winter storm, not including snow and fallen tree removal costs. Hundreds of trees have fallen onto highways, slowing the snow removal process.

Caltrans shared the following safety tips for motorists who must travel to the mountains:

• Before heading out, check Caltrans QuickMap for the latest road closure and chain control information.
• Carry chains and be ready for winter driving conditions.
• Make sure your vehicle is in good working order by checking your brakes, wipers, antifreeze, heaters, and exhaust systems before you leave.
• Do not try to go around highway closures by using secondary roads.

And when you’re on the road, please remember:

• Slow down and Be Work Zone Alert as Caltrans crews, California Highway Patrol officers, and other emergency responders are out trying to help control traffic and clear the roads.
• “Don’t Crowd the Plow” — tailgating or trying to go around snow plows can result in potentially dangerous situations.
• Have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, water, food, a shovel, gloves, a flashlight, and sand or kitty litter to provide traction in case your vehicle becomes stuck.
• Bring cash in case power is unavailable for credit card transactions.
• Keep your phone charged in case you need it in an emergency.

Upcoming Calendar

27Jun
06.27.2022 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Scotts Valley Advisory Council
28Jun
06.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
28Jun
06.28.2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Rotary Club of Clear Lake
30Jun
06.30.2022 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
2Jul
2Jul
07.02.2022 9:00 am - 11:00 am
Junior Ranger Program: Lake ecology
2Jul
07.02.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
2Jul
07.02.2022 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
64th annual Redbud Parade and Festival
4Jul
07.04.2022
Independence Day

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.