FEATURE // STAying gREEn Luning Solar Energy Center (Liberty Utilities) is significantly paid down, kilowatt-hour costs will drop each year for the next 25 years, given solar energy’s cheap operational costs. Luning Solar is the first solar energy generating facility owned by Liberty, but the company is already planning for an additional 10 MW to be added by another facility in 2018. These solar facilities, along with the pursuit of other renewable-energy sources, help Liberty meet California’s current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 27 percent of its total power mix, and will help it meet this ever-increasing mandate in the future. 3. Reducing fleet vehicle carbon emissions It’s no surprise that transportation is now the largest contributor of carbon emission in the U.S. for the first time in 40 years. While Liberty Utilities’ fleet is relatively small (67 vehicles to date), it is important to replace gasoline-fueled vehicles with alternative-fuel vehicles whenever possible, given carbon Western Energy / Fall 2017 / westernenergy.org/we emissions’ impact on Lake Tahoe’s air. Currently, 30 percent of Liberty’s fleet vehicles are alternative-fuel or hybrids. The utility has plans for high-performance, renewable diesel vehicles by the end of the year, which will help meet its corporate goal of 80 percent alternative-fuel fleet vehicles by 2018. 4. Electric vehicle (EV) incentives In early 2017, Liberty received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to offer time-of-use electric vehicle rates to residential and small commercial customers who wish to charge their electric vehicles during off-peak periods. While customers can sign up for these discounted energy rates now, Liberty has filed an application with the CPUC asking for permission to offer additional EV incentives, including rebates for customers who install home and small business charging stations. The company’s proposal would offer a $1,500 rebate for residential customers and a $2,500 rebate to small business customers. The utility recently hosted an EV summit in pursuit of electric vehicle use around the Lake Tahoe region. It was attended by a small-but-mighty group of governmental agencies, vendors, ski resorts, environmentalists and customers. The utility is working with the local bi-state, federal planning agency to identify potential charging station locations. It is also coordinating with the local transportation district to help them meet their charging needs for new all-electric buses they may purchase. Once the CPUC approves Liberty’s plan, it is anticipated that a dozen or more charging stations would be installed at key locations, enabling EV drivers to complete trips around Lake Tahoe’s 71-mile shoreline. The company has electric charging stations at its two office locations in Tahoe Vista and South Lake Tahoe, which are available at no charge to customers on a first-come, first-serve basis. As solar and other renewable energies become more competitive and feasible (and technology advances are made to extend the range of electric vehicles), Liberty Utilities will continue to pursue these energy options to be both environmentally responsible and responsive to its customers’ needs. 12 (Liberty Utilities) TRaviS JohnSon is vice president of operations at Liberty Utilities. He has nearly 25 years’ experience in the utility business. He joined Liberty Utilities in 2014 coming from NV Energy, and has a passion for the environment.