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RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A group of 70 Riverside high school students recently participated in several days of intensive, hands-on training with the Riverside Public Utilities Department to learn about potential careers in the utilities industry.
The week, facilitated by the Science and Technology Education Partnership (STEP), provided students with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training through experiential learning and gave them the opportunity to apply those skills in the Riverside Public Utilities Learning Lab (PULL).
"When the students got up and presented their projects, I was floored with how knowledgeable they were in such a short period of time and the amount of effort and out-of-the-box thinking the projects entailed," said Jo Lynne Russo-Pereyra, Chair of the Board of Public Utilities. "Their parents were in the audience, and they’re learning not only about RPU, but also infrastructure needs through the eyes of their children. It really shows the value of a public utility to the community."
Employees of the various divisions of Riverside Public Utilities provided the curriculum for STEM PULL, which included: Lineman Demonstrations with bucket trucks and equipment; the role STEM plays in the utility industry; field trips to the Riverside Energy Resource Center (RERC), Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Customer Service Locations; Team Skills Development; 3D Computer Design and Printing; Laser Cutting and Engraving; Welding and Woodworking; Electronics and Soldering; Engineering and Water Reuse Processes and Water Quality Testing; Brick Pi Robots; Advanced Utility Technologies; IT: Cyber Security; Public Benefits, Community Engagement and Crisis Communication Workshops.
At the end of the week, students developed and presented their innovative STEM PULL projects during the design challenge competition. Riverside Public Utilities Board members attended the presentations and judging.
"The students did a great job, and I want to applaud the students and RPU and the City for supporting the program and education," Utilities Board Member Gil Oceguera said.
Twelve teams of 4-5 students presented their concepts to a panel of judges. The top three teams won scholarships of $1000, $750 and $500. Even more valuable however, they are able to participate in a year-long mentorship opportunity with Gordon Bourns, Bourns, Inc. and graduate students from both the UCR and CBU Bourn’s College of Engineering.
Through this mentorship, students will have the opportunity to continue to work on their projects, further refining their ideas. At the end of the mentorship, some teams may even be on their way to having a marketable project and/or a patent on their idea. Students in the mentorship will also have many opportunities to participate in community activities, such as presenting at a City Council meeting or other events.
The top three teams from the first year of STEM PULL included:
1st place – For their project "Line Down", an app that would detect problems with utility poles and utilize GIS technology to locate the exact location of the faulty poles.
Samuel Green – Martin Luther King High School
Jordan Whiting – Martin Luther King High School
Brett Hile – Martin Luther King High School
Leonardo Acosta – STEM Academy High School
2nd place – For their project "Leak Master," a sensor that would be placed on all new pipes as they are installed, which would notify RPU of pipe leaks that are too small to be detected from above ground
Isaac Garcia – Woodcrest Christian High School
Caleb VanHaster Woodcrest Christian High School
Iliana Lazaro – Arlington High School
Leslie Zamora – Arlington High School
Jose Ibarra – Arlington High School
3rd place – For their project P.A.T. (Public Alert technology), a sensor that would be used with GIS technology to immediately identify and specifically locate outages and problems in transmission lines
Molly Dewitt– Arlington High School
Shevani Patel – Arlington High School
Shahnawaz Lateef – La Sierra High School
David Polach – La Sierra High School
Angela Figueroa – La Sierra High School
President Harry S. Truman was finishing his first term when Magnolia Substation came to life
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Riverside Public Utilities, which has been delivering water and power to the city for more than a century, recently shut down its oldest electric substation, ending the service of an aging facility that came to life shortly after World War II.
The Magnolia Substation, wedged between the Central Avenue off-ramp of the eastbound Highway 91 and the nearby railroad tracks to the east, was the oldest substation in the RPU grid, providing power to RPU customers for 69 years.
"It’s a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of RPU employees that this piece of electrical infrastructure was able to provide reliable power to about 1,000 Riverside residents for so many decades," said Board of Public Utilities Chair Jo Lynne Russo-Pereyra. "That longevity also says a lot about how much emphasis RPU puts into maintaining its equipment."
The substation was placed into service in November, 1949, just as President Harry S. Truman was completing his first term. It pre-dated the Riverside Freeway (State Route 91) by about 15 years.
The Magnolia substation property will be cleared of all above-grade equipment and structures, and most of the underground sub-structures. Customers served by the now-closed substation now receive power through the new transformer bank at the Plaza Substation, near Elizabeth Street and Magnolia Avenue, which was brought into service in August, 2016.
This new transformer provides more reliable service and increased electric capacity to meet the demand from RPU customers. The increased capacity will assist in managing the energy needs of electric vehicles and other technologies.
"The utility industry is always growing and changing, and RPU works hard to stay abreast of those changes with new infrastructure and strong customer service," Interim General Manager Todd Jorgenson said. "Ratepayers can rest assured, knowing their water and power needs are being met, now and in the future."
For information on this and other electric and water utility projects, visit RiversidePublicUtilities.com/projects.
Programs can help residents and businesses save hundreds of dollars each year.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Riverside residents and business owners can take advantage of eight energy-efficiency programs that help reduce power usage and cut hundreds of dollars off utility bills each year.
The City Council recently approved the programs tailored to meet the specific needs of commercial and residential customers. The programs, funded through the state-mandated public benefits charge, help Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) customers lower their utility bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"These programs demonstrate RPU’s commitment to helping its customers be as energy efficient as possible," Mayor Rusty Bailey said. "Improving energy efficiency is an effective method to minimize the impacts of recently-approved utility rate increases."
The Small Business Direct Installation Program is designed for small business owners and operators who are interested in energy efficiency, but do not know where to begin. Customers who participate in this program receive up to $2,000 worth of energy efficiency improvements for their business, through a city-approved vendor, at no cost. The estimated average savings could be as much as $300 per year.
The approval from City Council also allows RPU to continue to offer the Multifamily Direct Installation Program to customers who live in apartment and mobile home communities. Customers will receive as much as $1,000 worth of energy efficiency upgrades, such as air conditioning tune-ups and LED lighting, for their homes by an RPU-approved contractor at no cost. The estimated average savings could be as much as $150 per year.
"Having a locally-owned utility is one of the great advantages of locating a business in Riverside," Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur said. "Our rates are lower than in surrounding communities, and RPU’s account representatives know the challenges facing our business community, so they are able to tailor programs to help our businesses retain a competitive edge in the marketplace."
RPU will begin offering a new direct installation program for medium and large utility customers who have substantial outdoor lighting at their locations. The newly-approved Business Outdoor Lighting Direct Installation Program allows an approved RPU vendor to convert a business’ existing energy-intensive outdoor lighting to new, energy-efficient, LED lighting to create substantial savings.
All of these programs are made possible through RPU’s participation in the Southern California Public Power Association (SCPPA). SCPPA is a joint powers agency formed in 1980 by 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district around Southern California to work together for the betterment of ratepayers through increased efficiency and improved economies of scale.
Because SCPPA has so many member utilities, which combined deliver power to more than two million customers, it is able to procure significant savings for member agencies through economies-of-scale pricing. RPU, for example, saves about $500,000 each year through its participation in SCPPA. More information about SCPPA can be found at www.SCPPA.org.
"RPU is always trying to enhance its ability to meet the needs of the community it serves," said Todd Jorgenson, Interim General Manager. "We continually evaluate our programs to find new opportunities for energy efficiency programs, while also making adjustments to existing programs to encourage as many customers to participate as possible."
For additional information on how to participate in Riverside’s energy efficiency programs visit RiversidePublicUtilities.com or call 311 and ask about the enrollment process.
Information specific to residential rebates can be found at RiversidePublicUtilities.com/residents/rebates.asp.
Information specific to business rebates can be found at RiversidePublicUtilities.com/businesses/rebates.asp.
Board of Public Utilities names task force; 15 months of meeting scheduled to start April 26
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Board of Public Utilities has appointed a task force that will begin meeting on April 26 and spend the next 15 months studying the city’s agricultural water rates to determine if changes are merited. In the meantime, the WA-3 and WA-9 rates will be frozen at current levels.
The Riverside City Council recommended the establishment of such a task force back in November, when the Council was discussing potential increases to water and electric rates. The rate increases that were recommended from that process will be heard by the City Council on May 22, but the agricultural rates will not be affected, pending the recommendations of the agricultural water rate task force.
"Riverside has always embraced agriculture, first through citrus and most recently through the GrowRIVERSIDE movement," Mayor Rusty Bailey said. "That history and the potential for nurturing more farm-based businesses make this the right time to review these rates."
The Board of Public Utilities approved the formation of the task force at its March 29 meeting. Utilities Board Member Andrew Walcker will be the chairman and Seth Wilson of the Riverside Food Systems Alliance will be the vice-chairman. Recommendations to the City Council are expected in July, 2019.
"Riverside Public Utilities prides itself on being a community resource, so it is important to ensure that these rates are current and reflect the needs of the community," Interim General Manager Todd Jorgenson said. "We are fortunate to have such a knowledgeable group of task force members."
In addition to Walcker and Wilson, task force members will include: Rose Mayes, Jason Hunter, Gilberto Esquivel, Patricia Lock-Dawson, John Gless, Darleen DeMason, Michelle Sheehe, Dale Sexton, Tom Evans, Ed Adkison, Scott Andrews, Steven Robillard, and two additional members yet to be named.
Topics the task force will examine include: policy, legal and City initiative considerations; the City’s agricultural and citrus heritage; the Gage Canal; the existing rate structure; and the Water Utility Cost of Service Study.
"Water has always been a key to Riverside’s growth and prosperity, and that is especially true in the Arlington Heights Greenbelt," Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur said. "I’m glad to see the task force is going to take the time to really delve into the issues facing resident farmers and growers who embrace agriculture in our city."
The task force will seek to recommend a fair and equitable distribution and pricing of water that promotes local agriculture and is consistent with the legal mandates of voter-approved Prop. R (1979) and Measure C (1987), as well as the goals of the GrowRIVERSIDE movement.
"Riverside Public Utilities takes very seriously its commitment to Riverside residents and business owners," said Board Chairperson Jo Lynne Russo-Pereyra. "The Board looks forward to receiving the task force’s findings as it further examines this issue of great importance to our city."
The task force is expected to meet each month in the Mayor’s Ceremonial Room on the 7th floor of Riverside City Hall, 3900 Main Street. The first meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 26; meeting dates, times, and materials will be posted at EngageRiverside.com under the heading "Council/Board Meetings." Meetings will be conducted in accordance with the Brown Act, are expected to last about two hours, and will be available for viewing on the City’s website and at watchriverside.com. More information can be found at: http://riversidepublicutilities.com/rateplan/default-pop-agricultural.asp
Riverside, Calif. – Electric vehicle owners have another reason to charge up while visiting downtown Riverside.
As part of the City of Riverside’s continued commitment to sustainability and vehicle electrification, 24 new Superchargers are available near City Hall. Tesla provided the chargers as one of their latest additions to the growing Supercharger Network.
These state-of-the-art, electric vehicle chargers can quickly re-charge Tesla vehicles so that commuters and road trippers can get back on the road. The addition means Riverside now has two downtown charging stations – one for Teslas and another for other vehicles.
"This next generation of charging stations is a great addition to Riverside's green portfolio," Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur said. "The ability to quickly charge even more electric vehicles will further enhance Riverside's reputation as a home for residents and businesses who care deeply about sustainability."
The city already had a charging station downtown on the west side of the City Hall parking lot near 9th Street. That station has two type of plugs to accommodate different vehicle charging systems and can provide a charge of up to 80 percent of the battery in just 30 minutes. That gives electric vehicle owners the option of recharging their vehicles while dining at one of Riverside’s downtown eateries or checking out a museum or two.
The 24 new chargers for Teslas are located on the top level of the Mission Square parking garage located on the corner of 9th and Market streets, across from White Park. That location and the location near City Hall can be found on the mobile application Plugshare, which provides information about locations of chargers throughout the area.
"Riverside Public Utilities embraces sustainability and actively works to promote sustainable practices," Interim General Manager Todd Jorgenson said. "These Tesla chargers will enable people working downtown, or visiting us for the day, to travel with confidence, knowing they will be able to re-charge their vehicles while enjoying our downtown."
For additional information on electric vehicles in Riverside visit GreenRiverside.com.
Riverside, Calif. – Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) is urging customers to avoid contact with consumer scammers who give the impression they are calling from a city phone number, then claim the customer has a faulty meter and demand payment for repairs via a toll-free number.
RPU contacts its customers only through paper billing statements, online billing emails, late payment reminders, and green "48-hour notification" tags placed at the customer’s address. RPU does not call customers to demand payment. RPU personnel who work out in the community drive clearly marked RPU vehicles, wear City uniforms, and display proper photo identification.
"High-quality customer service is a top priority for us. Customers should be aware of suspicious calls and remain vigilant," says RPU General Manager Girish Balachandran.
Customers who have any questions about suspicious calls are encouraged to report possible fraudulent actions by dialing the City’s Call Center (from a landline) at 311, or (951) 826-5311. Customers can also file a report with the Riverside Police Department at (951) 354-2007.