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CHAPTER 12
Energy and Two Valleys
C
alifornia has always been a place where people take big chances. This
willingness for risk taking harks back to the heady gold-rush days, an
adventurous period of midnineteenth-century American history when
people from around the world readily endured great hardships traveling to
the Golden State for the promise of quick riches. In the 1970s, 1980s, and
1990s, Silicon Valley opened up a new gold rush, the high-tech explosion.
Again, people came from around the globe to participate in the exciting new
creation of wealth, and many of them found bigger fortunes than they ever
could have made in the original gold-rush bonanza. Today, the daring to take
a chance with new energy technology is moving to the forefront of people’s
imagination. The massive windfalls that Californias citizens will potentially
receive from this growing movement could well prove to be even more lucra-
tive than any quest for California gold or high tech.
When it comes to seeing real progress in energy innovation, we should
look at two specific locations in California. Although we can never be certain
where exactly any innovative development might eventually lead, Califor-
nias Silicon Valley and the San Joaquin Valley can be credited with at least
generating optimism for a better energy future. And unlike the forty-niners
of old, todays risk takers dont need to rely on hope and hunches of where
gold might be found. Instead, they know that developing new technologies
and implementing more efficient management of our energy resources will
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AMERICA’S ENERGY FUTURE
unquestionably lead to economic bounty. Lets take a closer look at the grow-
ing industries and energy infrastructures that Californias two famous valley
regions are developing for their future. No doubt, they can provide some
inspiring ideas that will goad other urban and agricultural regions of our
nation to go for the gold when it comes to building energy freedom in the
coming decades.
SILICON VALLEY
Surrounding the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay, Silicon Valley
has been the world’s hotbed for high-tech ideas since post–World War II
days. This region has built its amazing prosperity from companies working
on the processing and distribution of digital information. Its computer and
telecom industry has made multimillionaires and billionaires of many busi-
nesspeople. Now the region is focusing its attention on the planets energy
needs, developing many groundbreaking technologies and initiating local
government programs that will allow people to harvest greater quantities of
fuel from sustainable sources.
City of San Jo
With about 1 million residents, San José is the juggernaut of Silicon Valley mu-
nicipalities. And in 2007, Mayor Chuck Reed set the city on a path to becoming
what he called the World Center of Clean-Tech Innovation. Reed gave the city
a fifteen-year target to reduce its per-capita fossil-fuel consumption by 50 per-
cent by integrating more energy efficiency and renewable sources of power into
its overall infrastructure. To achieve this ambitious “green vision” goal, Reed
proposed that during the next two decades, San José change its utility require-
ments to receive 100 percent of its electrical power from renewable sources, use
100 percent of its landfill waste for energy production, and recycle or reuse 100
percent of the city’s wastewater (about 100 million gallons daily). He also called
for the city to make all of the vehicles in its public fleet run on renewable fuels
and to build or retrofit at least 50 million square feet of its buildings to make
them greener. Under Reed’s plan, the city will replace all of its streetlights with

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