Posted on Sunday, October 9th, 2011 by Renata Brillinger

Governor Brown signed SB 489, the Renewable Energy Equity Act!

On October 8, SB 489 became law in California. This CalCAN-sponsored bill will make it easier for farmers and ranchers to develop innovation renewable energy projects by allowing them to easily and effectively get those projects connect to the grid. The Renewable Energy Equity Act will help California produce homegrown clean, renewable energy and reduce our state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

We are deeply grateful for the leadership of the author, Senator Lois Wolk, and her very capable staff for understanding the importance of this bill for California farmers and for the state’s renewable energy goals. Two other leaders on the issue are Russ Lester and Jenny Lester-Moffitt at Dixon Ridge Farms who have led the field with innovations in producing heat and electricity by gasifying walnut shells. Justin Malan (Ecoconsult) and Karen Mills (California Farm Bureau) also made this victory possible.

Two examples of the type of agriculture renewable energy projects that will benefit from the Renewable Energy Equity Act:

1. Russ Lester at Dixon Ridge Farms, producer and processor of organic walnuts near Winters, uses walnut shells as the feedstock to produce electricity to power his freezers (used to keep the walnuts fresh and kill insect pests) and heat from the gasification process to dry the walnuts. Dixon Ridge has not been able to get their small-scale bioenergy project connected to the grid and credited for the energy they produce. Under SB 489, Dixon Ridge Farms will be credited on the farm’s utility bill for the renewable energy produced. See:

2. Straus Family Dairy in Marin County installed a methane biodigester that produces electricity to power the dairy operation and their electric vehicles. SB 489 would enable these kinds of small-scale biogas projects to tie into the grid. Here is a short video about Straus Dairy’s renewable energy project:

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