The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today approved applications for nearly $500 million in clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) funding to provide benefits to California utility customers. The funding approval was for the 2015-17 Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which funds clean energy research, demonstration and deployment projects that support California's energy policy goals and promote greater electricity reliability, lower costs, and increased safety.
Key areas of research are energy efficiency, renewables and advanced generation, storage and transmission, and energy-related environmental research. EPIC funds will be used to support advances in zero-net-energy residential homes and commercial buildings, high-efficient businesses, low-carbon localized generation, sustainable bioenergy systems, electrification of the transportation system, and improvements to the State's distribution and transmission networks.
Clean energy RD&D is important because it supports innovation that fuels the economy and helps protect the environment. The benefits to California are considerable.
- California consumers will save an estimated $10 billion from just 19 efficiency R&D projects that led to upgrades in California's efficiency codes. (energy innovation, moving toward a clean energy future)
- A recent project identified cost-effective strategies for home renovation that can reduce annual air conditioning electricity use by up to 73 percent per home. (2014 annual report)
- The EPIC program supports California's entrepreneurs and leading edge businesses. Funding opportunities are available in a wide range of areas, including energy storage and advanced grid infrastructure. Funding is competitive to ensure that we get top value for each dollar invested.
- EPIC provides opportunities for students to bolster their education by getting hands-on experience in applied research and engineering. And today's students are the scientists and engineers of tomorrow who will help to build a prosperous and clean future.
The CPUC established the EPIC program in December 2011 and set initial funding levels at $162 million per year. Approximately 80% of the funding is administered by the California Energy Commission. The remainder of the funding is focused on technology demonstration projects and is administered by the state's three large private electric utilities - Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric.
The EPIC program extends California's commitment clean energy RD&D, which is a critical component of the state's overall clean energy initiative. EPIC supersedes the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program which was established by the California legislature in 1996.