Innovation at Silicon Valley Clean Energy
This newsletter offers updates on how Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) is working with our communities and partners to drive new and innovative solutions for carbon reduction.
Innovation Impact Report
Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) was formed to help the communities we serve fight climate change and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. To effectively address barriers to decarbonization, we must innovate and collaborate to achieve our goals. Over the past few years, we have invested more than $1 million in local cleantech solutions, supported hackathons, and worked to expand customer awareness and demand for advanced electric technologies in our region and beyond.
SVCE recently published its first Innovation Impact Report highlighting accomplishments achieved through local innovation partnerships. The Innovation Impact Report features outcomes and testimonials of 13 partnerships and 12 pilot programs.
GridShift: EV Charging Pilot Becomes Full-Scale Program
GridShift: EV Charging was a telematics-based, managed electric vehicle (EV) charging services pilot, funded through the Fall 2019 Innovation Onramp cohort and delivered in partnership with Palo Alto-based firm ev.energy. The GridShift app offers automatic optimization of EV charging schedules based on several dynamic variables including renewable energy generation, energy costs, grid constraints, and customer preference.
Since the GridShift app can connect to vehicle telematics, customers with an eligible EV do not need any additional hardware to participate. Around 80 vehicles participated in the pilot, and participants on a Time-of-Use or EV rate saw average annualized savings of $100.
In addition, participants also had the opportunity to earn bill credits by participating in ‘low-carbon events’, in which their EV charging was automatically shifted to off-peak hours where average grid emissions were the lowest. The pilot resulted in approximately 6,000 lbs of CO2 avoided during the six-month pilot period. More information on the effects of the low-carbon events can be found in this white paper.
In June, SVCE scaled the GridShift pilot into a full program, available for free to all SVCE customers. SVCE also introduced Critical GridShift Hours, events that encourage energy conservation when grid conditions are congested, such as during heat waves, and rewarded users for their participation.
Reducing Emissions Through Active Transportation and Mode Shifting with E-Bikes
Transportation accounts for more than half of Silicon Valley’s carbon emissions. The pilot project, City Chrysalis, focuses on reducing local emissions from vehicles by increasing use and accessibility to safe, alternative transportation. The pilot was funded through the Spring 2020 Innovation Onramp cohort.
The pilot equipped four income-qualified Gilroy residents with electric bikes (e-bikes). Pilot partner, Outthink, coordinated with the City of Gilroy to implement quick-build streetscape modifications, known as Tactical Urbanism, that aims to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Outthink submitted a list of recommendations for street improvements to the City of Gilroy, and within a week the city was able to add a new bike lane and expand an existing bike lane to two of the most impacted streets within the city.
After the first four months with their e-bikes, the pilot participants:
- Reduced carbon emissions by approximately 1,900 lbs. and avoided nearly $1,000 in fuel costs (*according to Boomerang GPS service)
- Used their e-bikes about once per day per person (3.94X for the group) and averaged more than 7 miles per day
- Biked over 3,700 miles
In addition to the positive environmental impacts, participants also reported personal benefits:
- Improved health metrics: decreased resting heart rate, significant blood pressure improvements, lowered blood glucose levels
- Increase in energy, stamina and muscle mass
- Increased family outing time
Community impacts from the pilot include:
- New bike lane on Monterey Rd. North and Farrell Ave., allowing residents safe access to Las Animas Park and south Gilroy
- New bike racks at local grocer
- Raised city awareness about multiple problematic intersections that will be included in future planned improvements
Watch a participant testimonial here.
In addition to the benefits listed above, the pilot also provided insight into barriers residents face when using alternative transportation, such as bike storage complications for multi-level apartment residents. The City Chrysalis pilot will conclude in September 2021.
New Pilot Programs Aim to Advance Home Electrification
The Spring 2021 Innovation Onramp call for applications focused on seed funding for building decarbonization solutions. Two electrification-focused projects received grant funding.
The NeoCharge Smart Splitter is a low-cost technology advancing home electrification by helping people access EV charging and add large electric appliances without requiring expensive electrical panel upgrades, a solution that is particularly relevant to renters or owners of older homes. The pilot aims to understand the impact and scale the Smart Splitter can have on electrification in the SVCE and other CCA/utility territories.
XeroHome is an app that supports home electrification by customizing appliance recommendations, predicting utility bill impacts, and connecting users directly to contractors, all in the app. This pilot will use feedback from SVCE customers to develop an optimized design for a mobile app to engage homeowners to understand their emissions and pursue decarbonization initiatives.
Want to participate? XeroHome is looking for app testers to provide feedback on the pilot mobile app – they want to know what gets you excited about clean energy! If you qualify and successfully complete the testing, you will be automatically entered for a chance to win one of four $500 Amazon e-gift cards!
Qualified SVCE customers may sign up here.
*No purchase necessary. Giveaway is hosted by XeroHome™. For qualification criteria and other sweepstake rules please read the terms and conditions. Silicon Valley Clean Energy is not an administrator of the XeroHome Sweepstakes.
About Silicon Valley Clean Energy
Established in 2016, SVCE is a community choice energy agency serving thirteen communities in Santa Clara County. The SVCE mission is to address climate change by providing clean, carbon-free electricity at competitive rates – and in the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley, through bold new decarbonization and electrification programs. To date, the SVCE Board of Directors has committed over $1B to new renewable energy projects and more than $25M for innovative programs that reinvest in the community while helping to achieve local climate goals.
For more information on how SVCE is driving innovation to address the climate crisis, please see the following strategic plans.