News Release: Energy Commission adopts research investment plan

For Immediate Release: April 27, 2017

Energy Commission adopts Research Investment Plan

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission today adopted a three-year strategic investment plan for its clean energy research and development program.

The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) 2018-2020 Triennial Investment Plan is a proposed strategy for administering research and development funds. The Energy Commission invests more than $120 million annually through EPIC for innovations and concepts that help California meet its energy and climate goals.

The plan includes strategies to accelerate the evolution of the state’s electrical system, remove market barriers to the wider deployment of distributed energy resources, create a market for energy storage, increase the cost-competiveness of renewable generation, and advance solutions for continued energy savings in buildings. It also emphasizes the Energy Commission’s commitment to increase the diversity of awardees receiving research funds.

EPIC was established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2011. The plan, which is the third since the program’s inception, will be submitted to the CPUC for adoption.

The Energy Commission also approved the 2016 EPIC Annual Report, which highlights projects funded last year. In 2016, the Commission approved 111 projects totaling more than $216 million. Funding addressed a number of critical clean energy issues including California’s susceptibility to drought, expanding demand response strategies, establishing commercial opportunities for microgrids and building successful energy-related military partnerships.

At the business meeting, three EPIC grants totaling more than $3.7 million were awarded. Grants included:

  • $1.5 million to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., which will partner with Gridscape Solutions and Flex Power Control, Inc., to develop an advanced energy management system that integrates solar energy generation, battery storage and electric plug-in vehicle charging. This will create a distributed energy source that supports residential customers.
  • $1.4 million to the UC San Diego Campus Scripps Institution of Oceanography to develop regional climate modeling that takes into account California’s unique topography and focuses on weather and climate phenomena that can impact supply and demand in the renewable energy sectors
  • $825,000 to Greenlots to develop software that will reduce stress on the grid by monitoring and managing the high electrical demand caused when multiple direct current fast chargers power plug-in electric vehicles.

Other actions taken at the business meeting:

  • Approved a $3.6 million grant to SJV Biodiesel, LLC to build a biodiesel plant integrated into an existing ethanol plant in Pixley. The project will process fatty acid feedstocks, such as brown grease. This project is funded through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which invests in alternative and renewable fuels and advanced vehicle technologies.
  • Approved a more than $3.7 million grant to New Leaf Biofuel, LLC to upgrade and expand existing production of ultra-low carbon biodiesel at its San Diego facility. The project will help the plant expand production, process fatty acid feedstocks and reduce the plant’s overall wastewater and operating costs. This program is funded through the ARFVTP.
  • Approved local building energy efficiency ordinances for the cities of Fremont, Mill Valley and Novato that go beyond the requirements of the Energy Commission’s 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. The ordinances will require new single and multi-family homes to use less energy.

For additional details on actions taken today see the business meeting agenda.

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The California Energy Commission is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. The agency was established by the California Legislature through the Warren-Alquist Act in 1974. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation and preparing for energy emergencies.