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News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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LAH resident challenges PG&E over solar savings


Photo By: Elle Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Elle Van Houtte/Town Crier

Los Altos Hills resident Mark Brier purchased many different electrical readers to detect the inaccuracies in his PG&E meter.

When Los Altos Hills resident Mark Brier paid $70,000 for a solar energy system in 2007, he figured he would save on his electric bill as well as do his part to help the environment.

Five years down the road, he said his energy savings are minimal. His cautionary tale involves dealing with a parade of technicians and years of troubleshooting only to discover his solar meter wasn’t functioning properly. It was not tracking information that could have been applied to his expected solar energy credits. But even with the problem identified, Brier said he has yet to receive any cash back from PG&E.

Brier has filed a claim against PG&E with the California Public Utilities Commission, seeking payback on energy savings as well as compensation for his time.

Brier said he followed up on his initial 48-panel installation with 21 additional panels when he found that his cost savings “were underwhelming.” After still showing few savings, he purchased three energy-monitoring devices and cut back on energy use.

He said he hired electricians, energy auditors and solar inspectors to address the problem. PG&E consultants recommended converting four panels, dedicated to the pool filter, to solar. They also suggested a monitoring device on the PG&E meter to track consumption. Brier said he had it installed, only to have a PG&E inspector show up and put a hold on his account because of meter tampering.

The frustrating experience left Brier with three questions: Is your SmartMeter working? How do you know? Who owns your house consumption data?

The last question is pivotal, according to Brier, because he said PG&E claims ownership of his energy-consumption data. Brier said he is at the utility company’s mercy in terms of determining what his solar credits should be.

PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles said Brier’s case was the first he had heard about faulty solar meters, and that it could not be a SmartMeter because those were installed after 2007. Boyles said he would look into Brier’s complaints.

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