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Success Stories

Santa Barbara Hydrogen Station

In May 2016 Santa Barbara celebrated at the opening of its first hydrogen fueling station. The True Zero station is co-funded by the California Energy Commission and is a big step toward broadening the reaches of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It is based at a local gas station, and much like a traditional fuel pump can fill a car with 300 miles of range in 3-5 minutes, connecting the Central Coast to the California hydrogen network.

One of the World's Largest Solar Farms Under Construction in San Luis Obispo County

Topaz Solar Farm is a 550 megawatt (MW) solar facility near Carrizo Plains, California. It takes up over ten square miles and is one of the world's largest solar power stations in the world. We got to visit the Topaz project and got a personalized tour by project manager Gary Hood. We'd like to thank MidAmerican Renewables for the tour and for an unprecedented look at one of the largest solar farms in the world! Check out our video below!

By Brandon Jones

Cal Poly Motor Car Assocation Enhacing the Luxury Car Industry

Some may call it legendary, others may call it superfluous, but these Cal Poly students call it, "Learn by Doing." The Cal Poly Motor Car Association (MCA), known locally for its fully functioning electric Porsche, was founded in 2010 by third year Business Marketing student Sam Cates.Electric Porsche Project 2.jpg

Cates, a self-proclaimed automotive enthusiast, founded the club with fellow interested friends two years ago. MCA members share in the enjoyment and passion for driving and fine motor cars which is represented in their goals. These goals also represent the three spokes in the club's steering wheel logo:

  • to share the enjoyment and passion for driving and fine motor cars among Cal Poly students,
  • to establish mutually beneficial relationships with local and national automotive entities,
  • and to explore the potential employment opportunities and careers in the automotive industry.

"What's interesting about the Electric Porsche Project is that it allows for all three of the above goals to flourish concurrently," Cates states. This Electric Porsche Project, which the club has become so famously known for, was developed in 2011 when the vehicle was donated for student use. Mr. Robert Beauchamp of San Diego was the former owner of the 1977 Porsche 911 and selected the MCA "as the new home that would improve the car in terms of range, power, and everyday usability." Beauchamp was the third owner of the vehicle and became interested in how electric vehicles worked, ultimately converting the gas-powered vehicle to electric in 2007. The former owner replaced the Flat-6 gasoline motor with an Advance DC Electric Motor FB1-4001 and installed a Zilla Z1K LV Controller.

The MCA continues to work intently on the project with the goal being to have the vehicle transformed into a classic Porsche 911 race car that also utilizes electric and new sustainable technology. "The exterior of the car, initially, will be relieved of the small door dings and nicks the car presently has, and further along, the car will begin to look like a race car with the introduction of racing graphics, a new paint scheme, and logos of sponsors. We do, however, want to retain the traditional 'Sport-Luxury' feel of Porsches, and have adopted a motto for the project of 'Out to Dinner Saturday Night, On the Race Track Sunday Morning,' which will maintain our focus on balancing the best of both Porsche's racing and touring car heritages," states Doug Blaalid, the Electrical Systems Lead for the project.

Once the project is completed, the students will enter the Porsche to compete in the annual REFUEL race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to showcase the pairing of sustainable electric technology in a sports car application.

The Cal Poly Motor Car Association was just awarded 2nd place for the 2012 Cal Poly Club of the Year. The CPMCA was recently awarded a generous donation of $9,000 from the Collectors Foundation to aid in the fruition of the vehicle, which the club hopes to have completed by 2013. After applying for numerous grants in February, the CPMCA was handpicked by the Collectors Foundation. As stated on the foundation's website, “The Foundation awards scholarships and educational grants to organizations committed to “hands-on education" and making a difference in the lives of young people through the appeal of historic vehicles and vessels - building the next generation of collectors." To read the full article, visit

"My vision for the club as more members graduate and go work for auto companies, is to be the reason that Cal Poly will become the number one college that the auto industry recruits from for positions representing all majors. It's my personal goal to have a business career in the automotive industry and I believe this club, and being involved with it, has allowed me to network with many industry professionals," Cates states.

MCA founder Sam Cates will intern at Porsche Cars North America in Atlanta, Georgia in summer 2012. To find out more information about this student club, or the Electric Porsche Project, please visit

By Natalie Stone

Local Professor Sets Feasible Example to Students

Known locally for his commitment to students, love for public relations, leadership at Hearst Castle, and willingness to speak with anyone, Dr. Dan Eller can also add environmental activist to the list. Dr. Dan Eller, former Director of Communications at Hearst Castle and current public relations professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, is quickly becoming a local celebrity through his personal activism of 'going green.'

Eller recently found stardom when local news station KSBY did a feature story about the professor's daily effort to make a positive change for the environment. “How does he do this?" you might ask. By taking the bus.

The public relations professor first gave up driving his personal vehicle after a fallen tree totaled the car in 2008. Instead of purchasing another vehicle and investing more money into car maintenance and rising gasoline prices, Eller decided to give riding the bus a shot.

Though he made the personal decision to 'go green' just four years ago, Eller has always had a passion for carpooling and transportation. “About 12 years ago, I was on a planning group to complete a natural gas project at Hearst Castle and it took diesel out of the picture up the coast…I have decided to step up and do something on a personal basis and [in my] personal life," Eller said.

The former 60 mile commute to and from his home in Cambria was not formerly bothersome, but after discovering the ease and feasibility that the local SLO County transit offers, Eller currently views driving his car to and from campus as an annoyance.

“[The bus] can be like an office, and it is for many staff, students, and professors on campus. I see people with their laptops and cell phones getting work done. I can grade papers, take phone calls, and manage my checkbook on the bus. It takes a lot of stress out of [the] commute. I see people getting ticketed, but the bus is relaxing and safe. It has given me an opportunity to meet more people at Cal Poly and spread the word about the public relations [program]," Eller said.

Not only does the bus free up time spent on driving and allow him to get work done, but it has also freed up monetary costs and stress. “It is easier to spend more money if I have my car with me. I [now] pack my lunch, drink coffee first at home, but I am not running all over town. It has freed me up. Your life becomes a lot more simple when you go to work and come home. I'm not trying to knock off a bunch of things before getting home," Eller said. The professor calculated that he has saved close to $30,000 by not purchasing another vehicle and paying for its maintenance, gasoline, and parking costs. Overall, though, Eller is making a significantly positive impact on the local environment and air quality.

Eller thinks that everyone has a personal responsibility to take care of the environment and encourages students and staff to take the local transit system because of its feasibility and friendly drivers. Through being a role model to his students, Eller is paving the path of a greener future.

Eller believes, “We don't want pollution for this planet and we want to make a change. It's time to step up to the plate and make a change."

By Natalie Stone

'Idling Gets You Nowhere' Campaign at Earth Day 2012

The 'Idling Gets You Nowhere' campaign launched at Earth Day (April 22) 2012 at El Chorro Regional Park in San Luis Obispo. C5 hosted an alternative fuel car show that showcased local AFV owners and their vehicles. Congresswoman Lois Capps was the first individual to sign/pledge to the 'Idling Gets You Nowhere' campaign. Our goal was/is to get 1,000 local residents to take the pledge to no idling. Check out some pictures from Earth Day 2012- a great success!



The Sustainable Superhero

Hailing from Fresno, CA, Brett Edwards is far more than your everyday college student. Edwards is much more closely related to the likes of Spidermamr_eco.jpgn, the Hulk, Batman, and Captain America. However, unlike these characters, Edwards does not strive to protect the world from a single villain. His goal as an everyday superhero, Mr. Eco, is to promote sustainable practices and reduce our carbon footprint.

Mr. Eco is an environmental, superhero that incorporates sustainable living tips and facts into rap songs and music videos.

The raps include topics such as reusable bags, turning off the lights, reducing air pollution and enjoying the outdoors.

Edwards confided that his inspiration for his sustainable lifestyle and Mr. Eco stems from his Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science class that he took in high school. Prior to that, Edwards admits, he only recycled and did not know more than that.

"I feel very good about what I am doing," said Edwards. "I feel as if I am really making a positive impact and will continue with the more people I reach out to."

mr_eco2.jpgCurrently working on a project with the Clovis Unified School District to promote sustainability in the classroom, Edwards hopes to extend his sustainability promotion to local schools on the Central Coast. In addition, he will be releasing a "Get Green or Die Trying" parody, mix tape for Earth Day in late April 2012.

At Cal Poly, Edwards likes to partake in traditional college activities, in addition to being an intern for the green campus program and a representative for the green campus program at the Empower Poly Coalition. He encourages Cal Poly students to reduce their carbon footprint by utilizing the bike friendly community that we live in. Edwards uses his electric bike to travel to and from school.

"I got pulled over on it once, but only because the guy wanted to know what it was," said Edwards.

He also boasts a new Prius that he received for Christmas and calls Hansel. Edward's parents are proud of his success as Mr. Eco and he reports that they are two of his biggest fans.

By Chelsea Harden

Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering

The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mechanical Engineering Department is making strides towards an alternative fuel and eco-friendly future. Students in the department, who are advised, and overseen by George Leone, are proactively creating and innovating designs to build an energy-efficient environment through the creation and use of alternative fuel transportation. (Please show this first paragraph, but hide rest of article and make it optional to put drop-down option to view rest of article).

George Leone, an electro-mechanical technician, has lived in the San Luis Obispo area for over 30 years and began his career at Cal Poly as a 20-year volunteer for the department. Leone's passion for energy-efficiency was inspired when he owned and operated his own solar company from 1983 to 1994 in San Luis Obispo. When the technician began working closely with faculty and students after moving to the Central Coast, Leone recognized the dual importance of engineering and efficiency. “Good engineering is using the appropriate materials for the project. If we can design things that are light enough we could put electric motors and batteries in them, and reduce energy usage and gasoline," Leone said.

The Cal Poly Human Powered Vehicle Club, which is the oldest club of its kind in the world, works closely with Leone to create human-powered vehicles that travel at high speeds. Inside the composite fairing of the vehicle is a bicycle that is powered solely by human force. Competition rules require that the vehicles utilize no motor or other energy source; riders wear a helmet and have a safe means of stopping the vehicle. The 40-member club participated in Earth Day San Luis Obispo in April 2011 with their human-powered vehicle Atlas. Other Cal Poly Engineering clubs showcased their 2,700 mpg super-mileage vehicle, a 400 mpg urban concept vehicle, an electric powered RX-7 Mazda and a hydrogen fuel-cell powered golf cart.

The innovation of students, coupled with the support of engineering professors, has yielded both successful clubs and a department that are at the forefront of energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The formation of the Cal Poly Human Powered Vehicle Club in 1978 was done in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s. “What I thought was going to happen with energy efficiency in the 1970s is finally starting now. It's exciting to be living in this period of time," Leone said.

To expand and grow the awareness and participation of students throughout the Mechanical Engineering Department, Leone and faculty are seeking to gain scholarship funding for an individual student assistant to train fellow and futuristic peer student assistants for the on-campus mechanical shop. The shop is open to all majors, students and faculty throughout the Cal Poly campus and is seeking donors to financially aid mechanical engineering Student Technicians to increase the participation of students with the mission of energy-efficiency and innovation.

Leone believes that the shop is the foundational support for student success in the workforce and the future of energy-efficient designs. “These students are a very innovative group of people," Leone states. “Engineering is the practice of developing efficiency and is both a rising science and a creative skill set to make things more efficient. The students are a fearless team of engineers and will try things that others won't." The advisor is thoroughly enjoying his career working with innovative students that are taught and prepared for the workforce by Cal Poly's “Learn by Doing" theory.

By Natalie Stone

Grover Beach Mechanic Shop Electric Vehicle

The City of Grover Beach Mechanic Shop was donated a zero-emission, electric vehicle from the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) in April 2011. The mechanic shop, which is responsible for repairing all city vehicles and mechanical tools, applied for a grant to repair the engine of an older Grover Beach vehicle, but APCD instead gifted the electric vehicle when they were informed of the need. (Please show this first paragraph, but hide rest of article and make it optional to put drop-down option to view rest of article).


The San Luis Obispo APCD purchased the electric vehicle with the purpose of promoting the Central Coast Clean Cities Coalition (C5) mission of clean air and utilization of alternative fuels, but encountered restrictions with the 35mph maximum speed battery and determ

ining where to store the vehicle. Jerry Ross, one of two mechanics at the Grover Beach Mechanic Shop, was delighted and surprised at the news of t

he donated vehicle. “The APCD gave it to us to use as they knew we needed a new vehicle," Ross states.

The electric vehicle, a Miles truck, runs just like a typical vehicle does and is beneficial to the city of Grover Beach and its 35mph speed limit. By plugging the electric vehicle into an outlet, the truck recharges overnight and has the vehicle amenities of air conditioning and heating, a stereo system and silence when driving. In the two months of owning the truck, the mechanical shop has driven 300 miles and has saved on numerous tanks of gas. Employee responses to the truck have been nothing but positive and inquisitive. “Everyone at the shop loves the truck," Ross states. “O

nlookers are very inquisitive and we use the vehicle for volunteer work days to show how positive it is for the environment." Initially, Grover Beach decision-makers were hesitant to switch to alternative fuels, a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine or an electric vehicle for the shop to use. “Being given this truck has opened the city's eyes to see that alternative fuel vehicles will work for the city's benefit. It has given them more ideas of what can be used to save on gas when commuting," Ross states.

With the introduction and implementation of the donated electric vehicle, the Grover Beach Mechanic Shop is paving the way for cleaner city air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions to preserve the beautiful central coast.

By Natalie Stone

SLO Car Free

In September 2009, the Air Pollution Control District (APCD) of San Luis Obispo County launched the successful San Luis Obispo (SLO) Car Free coalition. With goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean air along the central coast, the partnership between APCD and SLO Car Free invites both locals and visitors alike to consciously promote clean air quality when traveling. (Please show this first paragraph, but hide rest of article and make it optional to put drop-down option to view rest of article).

SLO Car Free is a partnership with the APCD whose mission is “to preserve clean air, promote community and individual responsibility for air quality, and to promote economic and community well-being through encouraging car-free, care-free transportation to and around the San Luis Obispo area." The SLO Car Free coalition provides visitors with the means to travel in the San Luis Obispo area without the use of their personal vehicle and partners with local restaurants and hotels to offer incentives for participants. Visitors that pledge to travel car-free in the San Luis Obispo area are offered and provided discounts and enticements by local restaurants and hotels that believe in the mission of preserving and promoting clean air. Meghan Field, Air Quality Specialist for the San Luis Obispo APCD, believes that the SLO Car Free coalition is a great success along the central coast in involving both visitors and locals and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “The program reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps both the wallets of visitors to San Luis Obispo as well as the local air quality. This program is a way for the APCD to reach out to the local business community and encourage businesses in SLO County to partner with our mission," Field states. Since launching in 2009, more than 800 registered pledges have been made by visitors that support the clean air mission.

SLO Car Free modeled their partnership with the APCD, Amtrak, SLO Bicycle Coalition and numerous car-free partners after the Santa Barbara Car Free coalition. The success of Santa Barbara Car Free's 1998 launch inspired the San Luis Obispo APCD to provide visitors with the tools to travel car-free by Amtrak to the central coast and feasibly vacation and explore. Spreading the word of the coalition to visitors through press releases and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's “Mustang Daily Open House Edition" has increased the number of involved visiting parents, grandparents and retired travelers. SLO Car Free hopes to gain an increase in pledges from visiting tourists while promoting their mission of clean air and individual responsibility.

By Natalie Stone

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