San Diego, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] The San Diego Regional Energy Office (SDREO) and San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce (SDRCC) announced the winners of the first San Diego “Excellence in Energy” (SANDEE) Awards at the Chamber’s annual dinner. Solar projects were a key reasons for some of the major achievements honored at the event.Among those recognized were the County of San Diego, University of California San Diego (UCSD), City of Chula Vista, Tom Blair (City of San Diego), Qualcomm and the IBEW/NECA San Diego Electrical Training Trust. The SANDEE Awards are presented annually to outstanding business, government and institutional projects, persons or activities that save energy and/or contribute to the success of the “San Diego Regional Energy Strategy 2030” in the areas of transportation, infrastructure and buildings. The awards program is a joint project between SDREO and SDRCC and is cosponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and NRG Energy. The County of San Diego took top honors in the Government Project of the Year for its North County and South Bay Regional Centers by adopting mechanical and solar power technologies to reduce the operating costs of two sites as part of one capital improvement project. The central chiller plants were converted to an all-variable speed system controlled by the “Hartman Loop” technology, which lowered plant electricity usage by 45 percent. With the addition of 200 kW of photovoltaic (PV) systems installed between both facilities — the net result was over 2 million kWh/yr and $250,000/yr in savings. This equates to a 4.3 year payback, 24 percent ROI and $2.69 million life cycle savings. Due to the success of this project, the County has since implemented variable speed technology at six additional facilities. The City of Chula Vista took the Outstanding Organization Achievement award in Government. The city went above and beyond to support and adopt emerging technologies that protect the environment. Acting on recommendations in their recently adopted CO2 Reduction Plan — designed to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations — the city constructed a Municipal Clean Fuel Demonstration Project to showcase clean fuel technologies in real world applications. This included the world’s first zinc-powered fuel cell car, followed by the region’s first hydrogen fueling station open to the public. In November, Chula Vista became one of three U.S. cities selected to demonstrate a Honda FCX fuel cell car. The city concluded that replacing Chula Vista’s entire vehicle fleet would avoid approximately 8,000 tons/yr of CO2 emissions and conserve about 105 million Btu/yr of diesel, gasoline and natural gas.