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(Almost) 50 shades of green
Manteca has gone green to save green for years
Recycling is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the City of Mantecas green effort. - photo by DENNIS WYATT


Come this summer you’ll be able to charge an all-electric vehicle downtown and do so from power generated from the sun and not the PG&E grid.

That’s because the Manteca Transit Center now under construction on South Main Street at Moffat Boulevard will not only include solar panels over about half of the parking shade structures but it will have electric car charging stations as well.

“It (the transit center) is going to not only be an impressive community focal point with a clock tower and (community) rooms but it’ll also generate part of the power it needs to operate,” noted Manteca City Councilman Vince Hernandez.

Hernandez over the years has earned the reputation as Mr. Green on the City Council. It’s not because he drives a Prius hybrid and the fact his son now drives a Honda hybrid as well. It’s due to his constant push for green initiatives and not simply for the sake of being green.

Hernandez has advocated various initiatives that have ended up saving the city significant money. He’s particularly proud of the city staff’s initiative that secured the first two hybrid refuse trucks of their genre on the West Coast. They will end up costing less to operate per mile due to increased mileage and longer brake life. They also pollute significantly less with the added bonus that one of the two sounds about as loud as a golf cart as it goes about tipping Toters.

As the world marks the 33rd annual Earth Day today, Manteca has some of the most solid municipal green credentials in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. There is a list of just under 40 bona fide green initiatives that Manteca has put in place over the past 14 years.

“We don’t want to rest on our laurels,” Hernandez said.

Next up on the city’s list is a consultant study of the municipal wastewater treatment plant in a bid to determine how best to reduce the $1.1 million plus electric bill it costs each year to operate the facility.

So as not to encumber land that could be used for other purposes, the proposal will look at erecting parking lot shade structures over the entire Big League Dreams sports complex parking lot and placing solar panels on top of them.

Manteca’s first major foray into green that resulted in big energy savings was the 18-point Viron energy savings plan in 2000. Its goal was to save Manteca $2.8 million by avoiding electrical costs over a 15-year period. The city borrowed money to implement the improvements. The first year’s savings reached $487,741 before the loan payment was taken into account. By the time the loan is paid off Manteca will actually have avoided in excess of $2.8 million in power costs since electricity costs have increased higher than originally projected in the Viron pro forma.

 A partial listing of other Manteca’s municipal green initiatives is as follows:

• solar lighting in various park locations.

• solar irrigation controllers used in various locations.

• mower decks that recycle grass clippings.

• chipped tree trimmings that reduce green waste to landfill.

• the citywide municipal recycling program.

• a massive solar farm installed in partnership with Tracy and Lathrop to power water treatment at the South County Surface Water Treatment Plant.

• variable cycle pumps municipal wells to reduce power uses.

• increasing the number of irrigation wells tapping into non-potable water for city parks to reduce the use of more expensive treated water that consumer significantly more electricity.

• changing city street lights to induction bulbs to save at least $150,000 a year in energy costs.

• switching all traffic signals to LED lights

• GEM-style electric vehicles for city workers who do a lot of stop and go driving such as reading water meters or spraying weed killer.

• hybrid vehicles for the Manteca police community service officers.

• rebates to city residents for high efficiency washers.

• rebates for city residents for low flush toilets.

• free low flow shower head kits.

• extensive recycling education in city schools through the use of the Michael Recycle robot.

• extensive tree plantings.

• 55 plus parks aimed at putting one within a half mile walking distance of every resident.

• more than five miles of separated bicycle trails using the Tidewater as the major backbone. The system is designed to tie neighborhoods to retail, parks, amenities such as the library and employment centers.

• the deployment of roundabouts to reduce air pollution by keeping traffic moving.

• free shredding and free compost days.

• procuring Segways for Manteca Police.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail