Wednesday, October 8, 2008

California City Takes First Step Towards Renewable Energy

The Tracy (California) City Council voted 4-1 last night (Tuesday, October 8, 2008) to put a solar or other renewable energy generation facility on 200 acres it owns in its southwest corner of city limits. The city originally acquired the property when the General Services Administration sold 50 acres to them, but then the GSA also released the rest of the land on the condition that it be used for recreation or education. One power company, GWF Power Systems, is already discussing whether it can build a solar farm on the land to supplement the local power plant.

The city was originally going to put sports fields on the land, but then they discovered that there were underground high-pressure natural gas pipelines and heavy industry (including the current power plant) in the same area. So the sports-field idea was squelched.

To be able to build the solar energy facilities, the city must now negotiate changes to the Federal requirement about "recreation or education".

Of course, they might be able to get around this by not negotiating with the Feds, but to use the solar or alternate energy facility as a teaching center and model for students and teachers (whether for elementary, secondary, or college studies). That would satisfy the requirement for "educational purposes".

There would have to be some coordination between the engineering and power company building the facility and educational representatives, but that could probably be worked out a lot more effectively than fooling around with negotiating with the Feds (the Feds seem to have a lot of other problems on their plates to fool with this little matter).

I, of course, being an ex-science teacher and having taken many alternate energy classes myself, propose to be one of their "educational representatives" to create educational materials for different grade-level audiences for all the students and teachers coming to take tours of the facility.

These resources would consist of coloring pamphlets and short and simple energy lessons for the younger crowd and more complex booklets for the older and more advanced students. Since I've taught elementary kids, junior high kids, and high-school level kids basic science (and I was a teaching assistant when I was in Grad School at the University of Guam), I feel that I have the qualifications to develop these materials. And, of course, it would be great to get "sponsorship" from PG&E, BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and other energy-companies in addition to that from ZomeWorks, SolarPower, Aram Solar, Bloom Energy, and Solyndra.


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