Grants from the California Energy Commission

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Grants from the California Energy Commission

The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) was founded in 2012 to promote and drive innovation in clean energy. The Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program was established in 1996 with an aim of supporting energy innovation and development. The requested information about the programs is presented below.

The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC)

  • The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) was established in 2012 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The core purpose of EPIC is to promote and drive innovation and entrepreneurship in clean energy through provision of funding for research aimed at accelerating the realization of generating 100% clean energy in California by 2014.
  • EPIC has four administrators, including California Energy Commission (CEC), San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).
  • CEC administers 80% of the EPIC funds while PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E administer 10%, 8.2%, and 1.8%, respectively.
  • EPIC’s annual budget of $162 million comes from electric utility bills paid by customers and is collected by the four administrators at levels of 50.1% by PG&E, 41.1% by SCE, and 8.8% by SDG&E.
  • EPIC has three program areas namely applied research and development, market facilitation, and technology demonstration and deployment.
  • Applied research and development program area focuses on funding applied energy science and technology projects with potential benefits to the public. These projects should not have current deployment of private capital.
  • Market facilitation program area focuses on funding market research, workforce deployment, and regulatory permitting and streamlining activities with the objective of dealing with non-price barriers to the adoption of clean technology.
  • Technology demonstration and deployment program area focuses on providing funding support for technology demonstrations in real-world conditions and at real-world scales as a way of displaying emerging innovations and boosting technology commercialization.
  • Between 2012 and 2018, EPIC had provided funding support to over 303 projects totaling to $649,954,922.
  • There is no list of awardees/beneficiaries of EPIC funding. However, one of the funding opportunities for the EPIC program is CalSEED. The attached spreadsheet provides a list of awardees/beneficiaries of the CalSEED grant.
  • CalSEED is a small grant program of $24 million whose objective is to help early-stage startups, individuals, and entrepreneurs in California to introduce clean energy concepts into the market.

Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Grant

  • The Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program was established in 1996 following a restructuring of the electricity industry in California. Specifically, the PIER program emanated from the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 1890 in 1996. The bill provided funding for energy-related public interest projects in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D).
  • Moreover, the AB 1890 authorized the collection of at least $62.5 million every year from investor-owned utility rate-payers that would ensure continued funding support for public-good RD&D projects within the state.
  • Following the establishment of PIER program, the California Energy Commission (CEC) was selected to manage the program.
  • The PIER program is a state grant program meant to support innovation and development in energy. It also seeks to improve the quality of life in the state through availing reliable, affordable, and environmentally safe energy products and services to the marketplace.
  • PIER grant is available to both public and private entities, research organizations, educational facilities, and national laboratories. After soliciting for the grant, solicitors can be awarded different amounts of funds depending on their solicitation. Moreover, the amount awarded also depends on the amount of funds available, which is approximately $21 million annually.
  • To date, PIER grant has been awarded to hundreds of entities. The list of proposed awards and selections for PIER grant funding for the current period is provided on the CEC's website under funding.
  • However, the real names and identities of the awardees/beneficiaries are not provided. Instead, they are identified by some unique codes such as GFO-19-307, GFO-19-305, and GFO-19-303.
  • The PIER grant is expected to benefit the people of California, including individuals and organizations. Therefore, the success of the program’s funded projects on this goal is based on four considerations.
  • These are increased public safety of the energy system in California, enhanced energy affordability in the state, reduction in environment impacts related to the energy supply and distribution system in the state, and improved reliability of the state’s energy system.

Research Strategy

The research team could not find information on the specific amount of funds awarded to each PIER program awardee/beneficiary. The initial research first focused on the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) project website. However, a search through the available annual reports did not yield any information on specific names and amount given to each awardee. The search then widened to include other publications on the EPIC website but still could not find the needed information. Only the coded names of awardees were available on most of the publications reviewed. Thus, the team could not identify the specific names of the awardees/beneficiaries, the respective amounts of grant funding each received, and their contact information.