The Sacramento Valley in California is made up by the northern half of the larger Central Valley, the section lying north of the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. The area includes the cities of Redding, Red Bluff, Chico, Yuba City, Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Lakeport, among others. According to the Great Valley Web site, www.greatvalley.org, the population for the Sacramento Valley was 2,425,619 in 2000 and is forecasted to grow to 2,919,652 in 2010.
The terrain of the area is mostly flat grasslands set in between the mountain ranges to the west, the Northern Coast Ranges, the north, Siskiyou Mountains, and to the east, the Sierra Nevada. The Sacramento River and its tributaries wind through the region.
Largely, the economy in the area is reliant on agricultural products. The Central Valley is known as the "fruit basket of the world," and the Sacramento Valley contributes its fair share of citrus and nut orchards as well as cattle ranches and rice fields. The headquarters of Sunsweet Growers Incorporated is located in Yuba City, and the company has more than half the growers in the state.
However, Sacramento is the capital of the state and has used its seat of government to generate an economy outside of agriculture. Mostly responsible for the booming growth of the city, more people have moved to Sacramento from the San Francisco Bay Area in search of more affordable housing and cost of living. Immigrants from areas like Asia and Central America have also added to the expanding population. Currently, 460,000 reside in the city and nearly 1.9 million people live in the metropolitan area, which includes Sacramento and parts of Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties, according to the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In 1848, gold was found 30 miles east of Sacramento, which contributed to the California Gold Rush. The state was founded in 1850 and Sacramento became its capital four years later.
California is the most heavily populated state in the U.S. and is second only to Texas in its total energy demand, according to the Energy Information Administration. However, the state has one of the lowest per capita energy consumption rates due, in part, to its government’s energy-efficiency programs. Transportation is California’s largest energy-consumer, as evident by the state’s top ranking in amount of registered vehicles and longest worker commute times in the country.
Most California motorists are required to use a special motor gasoline blend called California Clean Burning Gasoline (CA CBG). By 2004, California completed a transition from methyl tertiary butyl-ether (MTBE) to ethanol as a gasoline oxygenate additive, making California the largest ethanol fuel market in the United States. There are four ethanol production plants in central and southern California, but most of California’s ethanol supply is transported by rail from corn-based producers in the Midwest. Some supply is also imported from abroad.
There are 10,200 gasoline stations in the state, according to the 2008 NPN Station Count.
The state’s average price per gallon of regular gasoline is $3.139, not including tax, according to the latest EIA information. However, California motorists are vulnerable to short-term gas price spikes, in part, caused by its fuel market’s specific requirements. California refineries operate at full capacity often times, and when an unplanned refinery outage occurs, there are no pipelines that connect the state to other refineries. Thus, replacement supplies have to be brought in by marine tanker, which can take up to six weeks.