Amy Bolten is public information officer for the Energy Resources Group of Sonoma County Water Agency. The organization supplies drinking water to more than 600,000 residents in parts of the county and northern Marin as well as treating wastewater, guarding against flooding and promoting resource conservation.
That latter goal brought Ms. Bolten to the water agency (www.scwa.ca.gov) five years ago to help develop programs and projects that would meet an agency goal of delivering "carbon-free water" by 2015. That means all energy used to extract and move water would be offset by generation of energy without emissions deemed environmentally equivalent to carbon dioxide.
One such program is the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP, sonomacountyenergy.org), originally developed by the water agency in March 2009 and now operated by the county of Sonoma. A new endeavor is the Sonoma Clean Power (sonomacleanpower.org), a proposed community-choice aggregation program for renewable energy produced by individual property owners.
Ms. Bolten also is deputy director of Applied Solutions (appliedsolutions.org), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit coalition of local governments collaborating on cutting-edge technology and financing for clean energy and water-efficient projects.
Before the water agency, she headed community relations and promoted green-building standards for her parents' company, Christopherson Homes. With a master's degrees in chemistry and business administration from University of San Francisco, she worked as a brewer, wine analyst and chemical company researcher.
Ms. Bolten is set to speak on projects related to the water agency and the proposed Sonoma Clean Power program at Construction Conference 2013, hosted by the Business Journal in Santa Rosa on May 15. She and SCEIP manager Jane Elias, a 14-year veteran of green building and energy, spoke with the Journal about construction activity generated by these agencies and programs.What projects are coming up for the water agency and Sonoma Clean Power?
[caption id="attachment_73075" align="alignleft" width="200"] Amy Bolten[/caption]
Amy Bolten: There are two likely modes of project development for Sonoma Clean Power -- public development through the water agency and private project development.
The water agency is working on a number of solar photovoltaic projects that could supply electricity to Sonoma Clean Power. The furthest along is a 20-megawatt solar project at the Charles M. Schultz--Sonoma County Airport. Three other solar projects are in the planning stages in other areas of the county.
In addition, the water agency is evaluating biomass as a means to utilize agricultural and poultry waste to produce electricity.
For private business, landowners and residents, Sonoma Clean Power would also provide a stable off-taker for renewable electricity produced by local projects which could incentivize project development.What public and private progress is being made toward increasing the supply of local electricity generation and water supply needed for projected population and job increases?
Ms. Bolten: Electricity generation and water supply are two distinct issues with different infrastructure and political drivers. The water agency can only speak to progress in the public sphere, as we do not monitor the activities of private developers.
With respect to increasing the supply of local electricity generation, both energy-efficiency and building generation facilities are means to increase the supply of local electricity capacity. The water agency has facilitated two significant programs to spur reductions in energy use.
Initially, the water agency helped form and launch the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program, which has funded $62 million in energy efficiency projects as well as install 8.5-megawatt solar generation in Sonoma County. The county has been the sole operator of SCEIP since 2009.