Bakersfield entrepreneur Stan Ellis has launched a new company -- GridCOM Technologies Inc. -- with the goal of protecting the nation's power grid from the threat of cyber attack.

A company news release said GridCOM is working on a "future-proof" encryption system that would detect any attempts at outside manipulation. The technology, based on light particles traveling through optical fibers, would be accessible over the Internet.

Ellis serves as the privately held venture's president and CEO. He provided seed funding through his company Ellis Energy Investments.

Southern California Edison has signed two 20-year power purchase agreements with the developers of a pair of photovoltaic solar power projects in western Kern County.

The 160-acre, 40-megawatt projects are known as Pumpjack Solar I LLC and Wildwood Solar I LLC. The owners are Austin, Texas-based Pioneer Green Energy and an Australian company, Infigen Energy. Construction is to begin next year, with operations beginning before 2015.

The Kern County Taxpayers Educational Fund is accepting applications for its community leadership training program.

The purpose of the fund's Kern Leaders Academy is to develop politicians "who recognize that a healthy business climate is necessary for a strong economy, and a strong economy is necessary for a vibrant community," according to a news release by the fund.

The academy is sponsored by Paramount Farming Co., San Joaquin Community Hospital, Verizon Wireless, WZI Inc., Heise Media Group, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison.

Information about the program and application forms are available online at Applications are due by 5 p.m. June 28.

Low-interest, federal disaster loans are available to small, nonfarm businesses in Kern County that were impacted by the Jan. 15-March 11 drought in Kings County.

Offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration, the loans of up to $2 million each carry an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.875 percent for private nonprofits; the maximum term is 30 years.

The deadline to apply for a loan is Nov. 13. Applications are being accepted online at Information is available by calling 800-659-2955, or by email:

Young's Commercial Transfer has won a prestigious safety award for the third consecutive year.

Young's, based in Porterville with seasonal operations in Buttonwillow, won first place in its category at the California Trucking Association's Fleet Safety Awards Banquet April 4 in Sacramento.

The company has a staff of 100 and 78 years of experience in the Central Valley.