Resilient Sacramento
The Sacramento Regional Adaptation Collaborative 

Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
April 30, 2014
A biweekly newsletter of the Sacramento Regional Adaptation Collaborative.

Welcome to the fifth issue of the Resilient Sacramento newsletter. This week we focus on the topic of ensuring electricity reliability, as climate change impacts increasingly expose new vulnerabilities in the aging grid infrastructure. Severe storms, flooding, and heat waves have contributed to a dramatic rise in the number of weather-related power outages in the last three decades. Drought and the diminishing Sierra snowpack are additional concerns for the Sacramento region, which relies on hydropower to meet its peak summer demand.

The good news is that solutions exist, and are already being implemented by communities across America. Yolo County and Hoboken, NJ, are demonstrating that strategic solar installations and microgrids can provide reliable sources of power independent of the grid. Innovative financing mechanisms now exist to help local communities invest in clean energy without upfront capital. Taking steps today to protect our electricity systems will, in the long run, save money, protect public health, and ensure the continuity of critical services during emergencies and disasters. 

News and Research

Extreme weather causes 80% of major power outages since 2003. 

As extreme weather events in the U.S. increase in frequency and intensity, so too have major power outages, increasing by 10 times between the mid-1980s and 2012. The average number of weather-related power outages each year has doubled between 2003 and 2012, and they now make up 80% of all major power outages. An average of 15 million customers lost power for at least an hour each year since 2003, with economic costs estimated between $20-55 billion each year. Of the weather-related outages, 59% were caused by severe storms. (Climate Central)

New research strengthens link between California drought and climate change

A new study finds that climate change is responsible for an unusual atmospheric pattern that has driven both 2013-2014's record-breaking California drought and the extended winter weather in the Midwestern and eastern U.S. The study focuses on a high-pressure low-pressure pattern, called a dipole, which has been increasing in intensity since the 1970s. This results in a persistent "blocking pattern" that shifts the jet stream and leads to extremes in precipitation, weather patterns, and temperature. Unfortunately, the dipole pattern is predicted to increase in amplitude, suggesting that California will need to prepare for long-term drought conditions. (Think Progress)

Showtime's "The Years of Living Dangerously" puts a human face on climate change

PHOTO: Showtime

Showtime's long-in-the-works 9 part documentary series depicts climate change in powerful, human terms, with stories ranging from Texas to Syria, California to Indonesia. Those without cable can still watch the first episode online. Not surprising, the series is causing a buzz already. The show is particularly relevant to adaptation, with its tone of urgency and tacit acknowledgment that climate change is already happening all around us.

Case Studies and Examples

How Yolo County became 152% solar-powered and saved money - in the midst of recession recovery

Solar power in Yolo County (Credit: Yolo County)

In 2010, the county government's electric bill was $1.4 million each year. County General Services took a series of bold steps to implement a solar plan - without any capital investments - that now brings in a steady revenue stream. The county produces 152% more solar energy than it uses, thanks in part to aggressive energy efficiency efforts, and the additional energy is sold back on to the grid. This article discusses how Yolo County financed its solar and energy efficiency projects, and how these efforts help to educate the next generation. (Green Biz)

After losing power for 15 days as a result of Hurricane Sandy, Hoboken is now working to build of the U.S.'s largest and most complex microgrids, which can serve as a model for other cities. Designed by Sandia National Laboratory, the microgrid will have underground wires, multiple sources of generation, and local power distribution. About 100 buildings will be wired together, including city hall, emergency services, hospitals, and senior housing facilities. Aside from times of emergency, the microgrid can also run its generators when the conventional grid reaches peak prices - when electricity becomes more expensive to buy than to produce - thus saving money as well. Read the full article for more details about how Hoboken is designing its microgrid. 

Photo Credit: Altergy

While fuel cells have mainly drawn attention in California for their use in transportation, perhaps even more important is their ability to provide stable backup power when the electric grid fails. During Hurricane Sandy, mobile phone towers with fuel cell backup remained operational and kept communication channels open. Fuel cells can also be used for critical disaster infrastructure such as communications centers, water supply systems, and healthcare and hospital facilities. Fuel cells have long run times and can be remotely monitored and operated, ensuring standby readiness and quick response. With Department of Energy support, cell phone networks such as Sprint have been adding fuel cell power to support their arrays. (DoE)

Resources and Tools
5 new innovative solar financing models

You already know about PACE, but what about yieldcos? Learn about five innovative financing models that allows residents and businesses to install solar panels without a large upfront investment. (VERGE)

Funding Opportunities
Federal government announces $15 million for community solar, including for emergency response

The Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity aims to help local, regional, and state entities develop multi-year solar deployment plans that are replicable across the U.S. and help spur solar deployment. One project concept of interest is the incorporation of solar energy into emergency response plans to sustain electricity at critical community response centers, such as hospitals and fire stations. Other sample ideas include innovative financing mechanisms and shared solar programs. Mandatory concept letters are due 5/28/2014. Read more or view application information

Georgetown launches $5 million dollar energy efficiency competition for local governments

The Georgetown University Energy Prize is challenging small- to medium-size communities (pop. 5,000 to 250,000) to improve energy efficiency. Local governments, residents, and utilities will work together to develop and implement plans for innovative, replicable, scalable, and continual reductions in per capita energy consumed from natural gas and electric utilities. Participating communities will be asked to develop a long-term energy efficiency plan and to demonstrate initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. The application period closes June 2014. (More information)

Upcoming Events
Climate Action Team: Public Health Workgroup

May 1, 1-4pm. Sierra Room, 2nd floor, Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I St., Sacramento

The quarterly meeting of the Public Health Climate Action Team will focus on "Finding Opportunities for Action within Local Health Departments." There will be speakers from the Public Health Institute, and the county public health departments of Contra Costa, Los Angeles, and Santa Clara. View the agenda, including call-in and webcast information.

Environmental Goals and Policy Report (EGPR) Workshop

May 5, 10:30am-12pm. Klamath Room, Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I St., Sacramento

The Office of Planning and Research is hosting this workshop to learn about the work of agencies, cities and nonprofits in the Sacramento region as related to the EGPR, and how the state can support these efforts. This EGPR evaluates the programs and policies necessary to meet the state's overarching environmental goals, which include building climate resilience into all policies and investments, and supporting sustainable regions and healthy communities. Local agencies, governments, and community groups are highly welcome to attend to participate. (OPR)

Webinar Series: Water for Energy and Energy for Water: Challenges and Opportunities for Utilities

May 8, 11am-12pm.

The first of three webinars focuses on an overview of water/energy issues from national and federal perspectives. The Department of Energy will present findings from their water/energy nexus report, including key issues and opportunities for water and electric utilities and future energy-water technology. Dr. Kristen Averyt will present research on current and future water-energy challenges. Learn more and register here

Climate Change: Challenges to California's Agriculture and Natural Resources

May 19, 2014, The California Museum, 1020 O Street, Sacramento

The University of California's Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics is an economics research foundation focusing on issues related to agriculture and California's natural resources. The Foundation is sponsoring a one-day conference that will bring together leading economists, analysts, scientists, and policy makers from the UC, the state government, non-profits, and the private sector to discuss the potential impacts of climate change and the associated challenges to California agriculture and natural resources.Program and registration.

California Urban Forestry Conference

June 25-27, San Diego

Presentations will discuss urban forestry and its impact on carbon emissions, water, health, and cap and trade; strategies and case studies; and other critical issues. A limited number of scholarships are available for government and non-profit attendees, as well as students. (Link)

About Resilient Sacramento

Resilient Sacramento is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Sacramento Region.  


Resilient Sacramento's current members include: UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy; Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District; Sacramento Area Council of Governments; Greenwise Joint Ventures; Sacramento Municipal Utility District; Pacific Gas & Electric Company; and the Local Government Commission. If you are interested in learning more about Resilient Sacramento, joining the Collaborative, or being added to the list serv, please contact Jenny Woods.

Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.
This newsletter is intended for general educational and informational purposes only. 
It does not necessarily reflect the views of individual Resilient Sacramento members.