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Great Valley Center News Blog

Monday, April 29, 2013

AgEE program offers energy efficiency resources Merced County farmers

Agriculture is a huge economic engine for the San Joaquin Valley, with annual gross production values in excess of $25 billion dollars. As with all industries, to be sustainable and remain economically profitable, it is becoming increasingly important for farming operations to find ways to reduce energy consumption, costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The new Agricultural Energy Efficiency (AgEE) Internship Program will provide a strategic energy resource for agricultural operations in Merced County. 

Intern Andrew Yenni listens to PG&E representative Pete Mendez.
The program, which kicked off in April, is offered through a partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the Great Valley Center (GVC).

The goal of the initiative is to provide information and technical assistance to local farmers on energy efficient solutions that may help to reduce energy costs, improve sustainable practices, and build capacity within Central Valley communities.

Five college interns have been hired – four are University of California, Merced students and one is a student from Merced College. The interns are being trained to augment the work being performed by PG&E’s Energy Solutions and Service  team.  Duties will include building relationships with agricultural customers while matching available resources with each customer's operational needs.

Interns Catherine Chase of MCC (left) and William Torrez of UCM (center) discuss the training program with their PG&E mentor Sarah Faridi.
Major objectives of the program include promoting energy efficiency, building local presence, workforce development, and fostering a long term relationship between the utility and its customers.

“In order for energy efficiency and climate action to take shape on a regional scale, a broad cross section of community stakeholders must be involved in crafting solutions to preserve the Central Valley,” said Bryce Dias, the program manager who oversees the AgEE program and GVC’s other energy and climate initiatives.

AgEE is just one of the energy and climate strategies on which GVC is working.

Green Communities, another collaborative effort implemented by PG&E, ICLEI and the GVC, provides GHG emissions inventories for budget-strapped local governments, assisting them to quantify and address GHG emissions. The Great Valley Center will soon be hiring seven additional college interns for a third round of Green Communities this spring. The program, dedicated to providing innovative energy efficiency and climate change solutions for governments and communities, has completed 25 projects to date in the San Joaquin Valley.

These programs are funded by California utility customers and administered by PG&E under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Click here for more information on GVC's Energy and Climate Initiatives.