Borrego Sun - Since 1949

ABDNHA Desert Energy Project


Last updated 3/9/2018 at 11:34am

If there are Borregans who doubt the possibility of members of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and the private sector all working together in harmonious synchronization towards a common public goal, they should have attended the kick-off meeting of our Desert Energy Project March 1, held at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, a Project participant and co-sponsor of the event. Also present were reps from SDG&E and the California Energy Commission, the two other participants in the Project.

“The Project,” according to their mission statement, “is an educational and community outreach program to inform the public and stimulate discussion on the subjects of energy generation and use, as well as the relationships between energy, climate, and the natural world.”

Speakers at the event demonstrated how Borregans are concerned with showing effective pathways to a viable solar-based electrical future for Borrego Springs residents and visitors. Of special emphasis were the combination of an overall educational experience and professional career employment opportunities for our kids.

Betsy Knaak, Executive Director of ABDNHA, introduced the guest speakers involved in the Project. The first was Jim Wilson, ABDNHA Board Chairman and Honorary Mayor for the past two years.

Wilson laid out the genesis of ABDNHA facilities expansion and the Project, with all work done by volunteers. “We have work to do,” he said, adding that ABDNHA’s partnership in the Project has already attracted visitors to the community, with more to come, along with other benefits.

ABDNHA Education Director Mike McElhatton then summarized Project components in furtherance of community educational goals using compact yet highly informative interpretive displays: Our electrical energy system and flow, including the new Microgrid, a test model being looked at across the country; how climate is being affected by energy production; and school programs, including energy conservation discussions and career opportunities in the energy sector.

Next came Jamie Patterson, an electrical engineer from the California Energy Commission, based in Sacramento. He spoke eloquently and passionately of “practical projects that make a difference in peoples’ lives,” and in Borrego with the Microgrid as a prime example, about folks working hard to address local energy and environmental concerns.

He takes his Borrego Desert Energy Project message to his “fellow bureaucrats” in Sacramento so they have a better understanding of what communities like ours are doing on the ground. “We have people interested,” he tells his colleagues. “Let’s do some work!”

SDG&E electrical engineer Tom Bialek has worked with ABDNHA for over 10 years in our community, his duties including working with kids for career opportunities. He has also been involved with the Borrego Microgrid from its inception, and SDG&E included funding for community outreach in its budget; Communications Manager Helen Gao, also in attendance, came to Borrego last year specifically to give this reporter a full tour of the Borrego Microgrid facility for a Sun article.

SDG&E currently has over 130,000 Solar photovoltaic rooftop systems installed in the County, generating 860 megawatts of power. Bialek wants kids to be interested in science and how they can become involved in the industry, particularly with regards to professional career opportunities in Solar generation.

A reception after the presentation included conversations with the speakers over lemonade and some very delicious appetizers and mini-desserts. Folks were able to walk through the botanical gardens.

Next time the Desert Energy Project has an event, consider attending.

Meanwhile, contact ABDNHA to go on a self-guided tour of the sustainable projects in Borrego Valley.

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