Category Archives: Renewable energy

Meeting Reflections – February 8, 2022

General Membership Meeting, Tuesday, February 8

Panel on Biofuels and Expanding PDB Membership

Our February monthly meeting was held on February 8th.

We learned a lot from our distinguished panelists, discussing biofuels, including two projects proposed by refineries in the Bay Area.

Two oil companies, Marathon and Phillips 66, propose to convert their refineries from processing crude oil to possibly vegetable oil, animal fats, or used cooking oil to create biofuels—what the industry refers to as renewable diesel. The proponents of the projects describe these projects as part of California’s plan to transition from fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But local activists and environmental organizations are voicing reservations as Contra Costa County officials consider whether they should grant permits in the coming months. In addition, a local Benicia company has partnered with a Wyoming-based renewable fuels company which converts organic waste to clean hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

Our panelists for this discussion, which was moderated by Kari Birdseye:

A Q&A session followed the presentation by our panelists.

In advance of the meeting, members were encouraged to read DEIR Comments by Jay Gunkelman, submitted for the Phillips 66 proposed biofuels conversion in Rodeo. Jay Gunkelman is our highly respected community expert on refineries and toxic emissions. Of note is Mr. Gunkelman’s second paragraph where he compares Phillips 66 to other refineries including Valero Benicia, with regard to required fence line detection limits to operate a 5 parts-per-billion. Note that Valero’s detection is significantly above that parameter for Xylene.

The second part of our program was open to PDB voting members only.  We concluded our previous discussions on expanding PDB membership, voting on two motions:

  • The first motion passed almost unanimously: to appoint an ad hoc committee to plan how to expand diversity within PDB and unite with other Democrats.
  • The second motion failed by a large  margin: to change the name of the club to “Benicia Democrats.”  We remain the Progressive Democrats of Benicia.

Take these timely actions!

Take these timely actions in just a few minutes’ time to help save affordable rooftop solar and to stop drilling oil and gas wells next to homes, schools, and hospitals.

Save Rooftop Solar in California! Sign the Petition by November 30

Our investor-owned utilities are again lobbying for a change in rules that would make rooftop solar prohibitively expensive. This time they’re trying it at the Public Utilities Commission. Sign the petition to stop them!

Setback rules for oil and gas wells

Stand up for environmental justice in California! On December 1 at 5:00 pm CalGEM is holding the first of two workshops to collect public comments. Once you register for the workshop you can speak for up to two minutes to the regulators who have written draft proposed setback rules for oil and gas wells. Provide your comments on why you think the 3200′ setback rule proposed is critical and why it must be for all drilling and not just new wells. Your public comments in support of the health and safety of frontline communities will make an impact!

Big Oil pays workers to call in and drown out our voice. Let’s show up in force! Please join the workshop, provide your brief comments, and show your support!

Learn about expected sea level rises throughout the Bay Area

Sea Level Rise and Shoreline Contamination Workshop, December 8 and 9. What will the coming rise in sea level – and ground water – do to the San Francisco Bay Area, and what can we do about it? Learn more at this community/government workshop.  Learn more about the workshop and  RSVP here!

ALERT! Please contact Senator Dodd before January 15

Vote No / Oppose SB 386

Members and friends,

We need your help in protecting California’s Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) program and the state’s goal for 100% electricity generation from renewable energy sources.

Senator Bill Dodd will be voting on a bill January 15 – SB 386 – and he should oppose the bill and VOTE NO.  He needs to hear from his constituents!  We vote, too!

SB 386 allows two utilities (Turlock and Modesto Irrigation Districts) to include large hydropower as a renewable resource and count toward their RPS requirements. California currently excludes large hydropower for RPS because the primary purpose of the Renewable Portfolio Standards program is to reduce the use of fossil fuel energy through the use of clean, renewable energy. This SB 386 would allow the utilities to reduce their commitments to new clean and renewable resources.

Please CALL Sen. Dodd’s office at (916) 651-4003 before this Wednesday, Jan. 15, which is when the Senate Energy Committee will vote on SB 386.  Ask Sen. Dodd to vote NO on the bill.  Last year he voted yes on this bill, which stalled in the 2019 session and has come back before the Committee this year. So, it’s important he hear from his constituents – which is YOU!!!

Some TALKING POINTS on why SB 386 should be OPPOSED:

  • SB 386 would undermine the clean energy targets enacted by the Legislature in SB 350 and SB 100 by removing the need for these utilities to invest in new clean and renewable resources.
  • SB 386 would weaken the RPS program by allowing other utilities to demand similar treatment under RPS, thereby overturning the Legislature’s intent in establishing the RPS program (2002).
  • SB 386 would result in vast quantities of existing large out-of-state hydropower generation to substitute for development of CA-based, new clean energy resources in these two utility service areas.
  • The relief sought by the two utilities is unnecessary. Under existing RPS rules, utilities can adopt cost limitations if RPS compliance creates excessive rate impacts.

Please contact Sen. Dodd’s office NOW
Phone: (916) 651-4003
Twitter: @SenBillDodd
Web mail: