Clean Energy, Water Conservation Help Victor Valley, CA Economy
Learn how innovative energy and conservation projects help position Victor Valley as a national leader in business development, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.
As the world’s largest recipient of solar radiation, second only to the Sahara Desert, the Mojave Desert is ground zero for solar energy innovation. Victor Valley businesses and residents have been tapping the power of the sun for decades, and the region was chosen in the 1980s for one of the first solar thermal energy plants. In 2010, Walmart opened its distribution center in Apple Valley and installed more than 5,000 solar panels to help power it. More recently, the Terra Verde Group announced plans to build more than 15,600 homes in the master-planned Tapestry community in Hesperia — each of which will feature solar panel installations. Homeowners across Victor Valley are taking advantage of programs such as the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO), which offers affordable financing for energy efficient upgrades.
Clean Air Champs
“Energy efficiency is also a form of pollution prevention, which focuses industry, government, and public attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation and raw materials use. Moreover, reduced emissions and costs can lead to an improved quality of life,” says Brad Poiriez, executive director of the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD).
The MDAQMD monitors air pollution in compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act and California’s air pollution laws. While the agency works to attain and maintain a healthy environment, Poiriez says, it also is invested in supporting sustainable economic growth. He says the MDAQMD proactively supports and encourages the creation and recognition of emission reductions credits, offers some of the lowest permit and application fees and has some of the most expedient permit processing times in the state. While California’s air quality regulations have a reputation for being among the most challenging in the nation, Poirez notes his agency’s work with applicants to cut through red tape instead of adding another layer, which encourages investment and job creation in the region.
“The MDAQMD is truly California’s final frontier for businesses seeking to locate or remain in the Golden State, based largely on the legendary working relationship we have cultivated with our regulated industry,” he says.
Poiriez stresses that the relationship with businesses has helped make the agency’s work successful. Each year, the MDAQMD names recipients of its Exemplar Award, which recognizes businesses, agencies, organizations and educational institutions that have made significant contributions to the prevention and control of air pollution. Past recipients include Advance Disposal Co., Duffy Electric Boat Co., Victor Valley College and CEMEX.
In 2013, CEMEX, a global building materials company, commissioned four General Electric wind turbines at its cement plant in Victorville. The power generated from the wind turbines could power 1,500 average-sized households. The turbines, which have zero emissions, will prevent more than 11,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
“Progress towards a more sustainable, energy-efficient and cost-effective future is a top priority for CEMEX. We understand the value of using renewable energy for reducing the carbon footprint of our operations and is a successful model of its application in the industry,” says Walker Robinson, external communications manager for CEMEX. “This project demonstrates CEMEX’s commitment to find creative ways to save costs and comply with increasingly stringent air quality regulations in California.”
Water conservation also plays a role in the region’s economic development efforts. The Mojave Water Agency is charged with managing the region’s water resources. The agency monitors groundwater supplies, imports water from the State Water Project, develops plans and programs to ensure a sustainable water supply and builds infrastructure such as pipelines and ground recharge projects. The agency also promotes conservation through grants and programs, such as Large Scale Cash for Grass, which pays businesses and schools to remove grass and replace it with desert friendly landscaping.
Yvonne Hester, Community Liaison Officer for the Mojave Water Agency, says companies, such as the Nutro Co. in Victorville, have embraced water conservation. The company uses recycled water from plant production, which cuts its water use by nearly 50 percent.
“Without a sustainable and quality water supply, new businesses cannot locate to Victorville and current businesses cannot expand. That is why conservation is so important. A growing business community creates jobs, and these jobs in turn provide citizens with the incomes that can enable them to buy homes, support the local soccer club or other community efforts, and enjoy a high quality of life,” Hester says.