Valley Voices

Bobby Kahn: Valley alliance advocates for reliable power

California’s record drought shows we can’t take it for granted that, when we turn on the faucets, water will always flow out.

The same should be true for reliable energy.

Reliable energy may not be something we think about every day in the Valley, but it is essential to our daily lives. Energy cools our homes on triple-digit days, fuels operations for our manufacturers and food processors, provides cold storage for our crops and even lets us cheer on the ’Dogs and Grizzlies at night games.

Energy powers many of the things that make us unique as a region. A consistent supply of power is the backbone of our economy and our quality of life.

Recently, a diverse group of community leaders announced the formation of a coalition to bring attention to this important issue at the Water, Energy and Technology Center at Fresno State. Called the Central Valley Coalition for Reliable Energy, our group includes elected officials and industry leaders in education, business, local government and economic development from throughout the region.

We invite the entire Valley to join us as well.

As coalition members, we understand the importance of regional advocacy and collaboration to ensure we continue to have the electricity we need to flourish as a region. As we further integrate renewable resources onto the grid, the nature of how we use energy is changing, and comprehensive improvements are needed to keep energy reliable while maximizing the delivery of renewable resources in the area. There is a variety of infrastructural improvements that, if built, will help the Valley continue its upward trajectory and excel. We know we must stay at the forefront of the many exciting efforts currently under way. With this in mind, we have joined together to show our support and make our voices heard.

The initial project the coalition is supporting is Central Valley Power Connect (Power Connect), a new transmission line that PG&E, BHE U.S. Transmission and Citizens Energy Corporation have proposed in our area.

Power Connect will help our communities by giving us the 21st century infrastructure we need to ensure the continued delivery of reliable power to homes, farms and businesses in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties. We recognize how important this project is for our region and look forward to actively promoting it in our communities.

The Valley has a resiliency that many places do not possess, since we have a precedent of working together and adapting. Our coalition benefits from the Valley’s trademark innovative spirit as we lead the charge in promoting reliable energy, modernizing our infrastructure and ensuring we have the needed energy for our long-term economic vitality.

With our coalition, Valley residents have a forum through which we can convene and advocate at the local, state and even federal levels for various energy initiatives that will benefit our communities. In addition to the city of Fresno and several retired Fresno County supervisors, our coalition includes representatives from the Fresno County Farm Bureau, Kings County Economic Development Commission, Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, West Hills College in Coalinga, Madera County EDC, Fresno County EDC, Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation, Fresno Chamber of Commerce, Madera Chamber of Commerce, PG&E, Nisei Farmers League and the Building Industry Association.

Anyone is welcome to join our coalition and help promote awareness about this important issue. While we are a newly formed group, we look forward to serving as a unified voice and empowering our region to advocate for the resources we need to maintain and enhance our way of life. This advocacy may take a variety of forms as the coalition progresses, and we look forward to working with our community partners to stand up for the Valley and show our support for this important cause. Now is the time for us to make ourselves heard, and we strongly encourage others to join us as we embark on this vital undertaking.

Bobby Kahn serves as the executive director of the Madera County Economic Development Commission and is a member of the Central Valley Coalition for Reliable Energy. More information on the coalition can be found at