EDD says the unemployment rate in the Kings County was 7.5 percent in September 2017, down from a revised 8.5 percent in August 2017, and below the year-ago estimate of 8.2 percent.

Figures show the county has 800 more non-farm jobs than a year ago while farm jobs remain flat. Construction jobs are up 11 percent year-over-year. The 7.5 percent jobless rate is the best September number in Kings County since 2007, before the recession.

Hanford dairyman pioneers electric feed mixing

The San Joaquin Valley Air District recently approved $4 million in incentive funding for new pilot Dairy Feed Mixing Electrification Program, seeking to expand the installation of electric feed mixing equipment and reduce diesel emissions from tractors and other mobile equipment used on Valley dairies.

The approval of this program has been four years in the making, dating back to a demonstration project by Hanford dairy farmer Philip Verwey.

Verwey’s demonstration project on his Kings County dairy replaced diesel tractor-powered feed mixing and delivery equipment with an electric feed mixing station and delivery system. The results were more than impressive following two years of operation.

Feed mixing time was reduced from 22 hours per day to less than six, the quality of the feed mixture was significantly improved and diesel fuel consumption was cut nearly in half. According to the Air District, the project is achieving more than 21 tons of NOx reductions on an annual basis.

The Electrification Program covers up to 75 percent of costs for new projects.

Tulare conference to hear green plans 

The South San Joaquin Valley Industrial Summit, an all-day affair Oct. 26, at the Tulare SCE Education Center, 4175 S. Laspina St., will hear from some of the Valley’s newest and most innovative companies including Hanford’s electric car maker Faraday Futures and Porterville’s electric bus maker Green Power Motors.

On the agenda is Leonel Leal, the senior manager in manufacturing engineering for Faraday Future, who guides the company’s manufacturing strategy. Leal is a former senior manufacturing engineer at Tesla Motors. Four other Faraday Futures staffers will speak as well. The company is remodeling the old Pirelli tire plant in Hanford to open next year.

Also watch for a talk on the Present and Future of the Green Transportation on Industry featuring Brendan Riley, president of GreenPower Co, who is building a new bus plant in Porterville.

Rack’M Up in Lemoore

Lemoore will get a 15,000 square-foot billiard hall - Kings County Billiards - at the Gateway Plaza at the northeast corner of Hanford Armona Road and 18th Avenue. Improvements to the space that used to be Sprouse Ritz are underway but could take a few months, says Rick Amerine with Commercial Retail Associates. Also in the same center are In-Shape and Dollar General - taking over the Family Dollar space.

Walnut prices remain under $1

USDA says the total California 2016 walnut crop purchased from producers reached 649,183 tons at an average price of 92.7 cents per pound. That price per pound compares to double that in 2013 but up slightly from 2015.

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at sierra2thesea@gmail.com