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Kings County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Craig Pedersen says he met with officials from Semitropic Water Storage District including general manager Jason Gianquinto in October to discuss the Kern agency plan to build a water storage and transfer facility in Kings County.

Kings County opposes the plan and has vowed to fight the issue in court if need be. Kings has collected a number of allies in the battle including both Fresno and Tulare counties who each depend on the Kings River.

Looking to see if there was any common ground, Pedersen says after the meeting “we agreed to disagree” over the proposal to build a 12,000-acre reservoir that would tap the “unallocated floodwaters” of the Kings River and ship some of it 25 miles to the south.

Kings County and allies respond that the Kings River is considered “fully appropriated” by the State Water Resources Control Board. Semitropic is not only applying for permission from the state board to do the project - it also seeks public funding to help build it, also opposed by Kings County.

Lemoore charged up over charging stations

The ChargePoint company says they are helping more people choose to drive electric. The company was recently awarded a California Energy Commission grant to develop, own and operate high-speed EV charging stations along key highway corridors in California.

Now they want to install a station in Lemoore the City Council heard about at a study session last month. Staff says an agreement with the company is expected in coming weeks.

Within the next two to five years, the number of EV drivers in the community will increase rapidly, believe both the company and the state. At no cost to the city of Lemoore, ChargePoint plans to install and maintain 10 total parking spaces with the initial installation of two to four high-speed EV chargers and one dual port Level 2 charger. It serves drivers wanting to make a 30 minute to an hour stop; compatible with all electric vehicles. Level2 charging ports charge time is between one to three hours.

The development is expected to make Lemoore a popular stop along Highway 41 and increase visitation to Downtown Lemoore. ChargePoint would own, operate and maintain the station at its own expense over a 15-year term (option to auto-renew).

The current proposal would be to use a city parking lot on E Street, near the depot.

Challenge Dairy refrigerated truck uses solar to keep cool

Challenge Dairy Products is working with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in Fresno to test a solar-powered, zero-emissions commercial Transport Refrigeration Unit, powered by a new technology called Rayfridgeration.

Instead of using particulate laden diesel fuel, the truck stores and refrigerates dairy products on delivery routes, using roof-mounted solar panels in the daytime and an auxiliary battery that is charged at night. As a back-up, the electrical system is also capable of charging the battery while the vehicle is running. Challenge Dairy has been testing the Rayfridgeration truck since April and it is exceeding expectations so far, they report.

Challenge expects to fit its entire fleet with the new, cleaner technology.

Over 100 California dairies employ solar

More than 100 dairy farms across the state are using solar energy panels, with a total energy capacity of more than 77 megawatts (MW). Many of these dairy farms have a solar energy capacity of 1 MW or more says DairyCares.

Milk powder prices fall

Central Valley dairies produce tons of milk powder for export. But this month prices are down for nonfat dry milk with spot prices down to 72 cents per pound, the lowest value in 18 months say market analysts. One of our biggest destinations is Mexico but both Europe and Canada are grabbing some of the U.S. market shares south of the border. U.S. NDM exports in September dropped to 88.7 million pounds, down 19.5 percent from a year ago and the lowest monthly volume since February 2015.

Raisin farmers cheer better price

Last month the Raisin Bargaining Association and the Central Valley's major packers agreed to a 2017 price of $1,800 per ton for natural seedless raisins. That is up from $1,100 per ton they got in 2016. Helping to boost prices is what appears to be a low yield for this year's crop, down about a third.

Union Pacific eastbound produce trains now five days a week

Union Pacific announced earlier this year it had acquired most of the RailEx business including the terminal in Delano that has 225,000 square feet of refrigerated space. The firm transports fruits, vegetables and other temperature-sensitive cargo across the United States.

Now UP has announced the refrigerated train's departure eastbound to New York will increase to five a week, Tuesday through Saturday beginning Nov. 1. The rail company formerly shipped three days a week from Delano. With refrigerated truckloads costing more - UP expects to be competitive with this increase. "Loads have doubled since the announcement” says Delano UP market rep Lee Brown.

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John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at

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