Public Interest Energy Research
Projects Receive $18.3 Million In Funding
The California Energy Commission recently approved $18.3 million in funding for 20 public interest research projects with the potential to make electricity safer, more affordable, reliable and environmentally sound for Californians. Matching funds, to be provided by organizations submitting the winning proposals, total $48 million.
The projects selected range from a study of how to mitigate golden eagle deaths in wind turbine farms to the development of a marketable photovoltaic roof tile. Finalists were selected from 180 proposals submitted by the research, development and demonstration (RD&D) community in response to the first general solicitation of the Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program.
In California's restructured electricity market, the PIER program took over most of the public interest RD&D responsibilities once held by electric utilities. The program makes certain that ratepayers continue to reap RD&D benefits in the new competitive marketplace. PIER will make available about $62 million annually through the year 2001 for public interest research projects that advance energy science or technology not adequately provided by regulated and competitive markets.
"I was amazed by the diversity and quality of the proposals," said Energy Commission Vice Chair David A. Rohy. "It was tough to draw the line as to how many projects would receive funding. I encourage firms who were not succesful to try again."
Dr. Rohy, who chairs the Commission's RD&D Committee, said finalists were selected after each proposal underwent a thorough review and scoring process. Decisions were based on technical and policy evaluation criteria as well as the program's goals to: make electricity more affordable; keep the production of the commodity cleaner and safer; and improve its reliability, quality and distribution for the benefit of California consumers.
Proposals for the first general solicitation were sought in the areas of environmental research, advanced generation and renewable energy technology. Because of the merits of the proposals, the Committee recommended and the Commission decided to increase the $15 million alloted by another $3.3 million.
In the area of environmental research, these organizations were funded:
Funded in the area of advanced generation were:
- University of California, Santa Cruz, $675,121 to study the effects of wind-energy mitigation measures on golden eagle mortality;
- Edison Technology Solutions of Irwindale, $2,889,678 to develop and test various electrotechnologies for potable water production and environmental protection; and
- Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, $2,159,800 to assess the potential costs and implications of global climate change to California.
Organizations funded for renewables research were:
- M-C Power Corporation of Burr Ridge, Illinois, $1,000,000 to design and test a 75-kilowatt molten carbonate fuel cell system in San Diego;
- Alzeta Corporation of Santa Clara, $878,788 to develop and test a low NOx combustor for use in gas turbines and turbine cells;
- AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia, $1,035,420 to develop and demonstrate an ultra-high-efficiency packaged microcogeneration system;
- Energy and Environmental Research Corporation of Irvine, $349,852 to develop and evaluate catalysts and absorbents for a steam reforming process within fuel cell systems;
- Westinghouse Electric Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, $550,000 to design a megawatt class pressurized solid oxide fuel cell/gas turbine power system at an Irvine research center;
- Catalytica Combustion Systems, Inc. of Mountain View, $1,316,303 to develop and demonstrate a catalytic combustion system for gas turbines; and
- Gas Research Institute of Chicago, Illinois., $982,528 to develop and demonstrate a micropilot-ignited natural gas engine in San Diego and Los Angeles.
A list of proposed awards for the program's second general solicitation will be announced in September in the areas of end-use energy efficiency and strategic energy research. A "Small Grants" solicitation to provide modest funding to help recipients evaluate which RD&D concepts are feasible to further stimulate new energy innovations in California, is expected to be released later this year.
- Powerlight Corporation of Berkeley, $542,362 to develop and test a commercial photovoltaic/thermal solar collector system;
- Utility Power Group, Inc. of Chatsworth, $426,343 to develop and test a lower-cost residential rooftop photovoltaic system;
- Electromagnetic Instruments, Inc. of El Cerrito, $1,380,709 to develop and test an extended logging tool to help reduce costs associated with geothermal exploration and field development;
- EDTEK of Kent, Washington, $867,945 to demonstrate a hybrid solar-fossil thermophotovoltaic cogeneration technology;
- Powerwheel Associates of Woodside, $200,000 to develop and demonstrate a 75 kilowatt low-head hydroelectric technology;
- Powerlight Corporation of Berkeley, $958,991 to develop lower cost manufacturing methods for a roof tile photovoltaic product;
- The Wind Turbine Company of Bellevue, Washington, $950,000 to develop and test a 350-kilowatt wind turbine in Palm Springs;
- Sacramento Municipal Utility District, $374,847 to develop a power conditioning/converting unit test center at the Photovoltaics Utility Scale Applications (PVUSA) research facility in Davis;
- Gas Research Institute of Chicago, Illinois, $655,702 to develop and test a low NOx burner for co-firing applications in biomass fueled boilers in Eureka; and
- Bergquam Energy Systems of Sacramento for $150,000 to design and optimize a solar-fired double effect absorption chiller.
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For more information contact:
California Energy Commission
Claudia Chandler, Assistant Executive Director
Here is a list of contact persons for the 20 winning projects (Powerlight has two projects):
Alec N. Brooks, Vice President, AeroVironment, Inc., (626) 357-9983
Dr. Scott Smith, Project Manager, Alzeta Corporation, (408) 727-8282
Jim Bergquam, Owner, Bergquam Energy Systems, (916) 383-9425
Tom Morjig, Director, Catalytica Combustion Systems, (650) 940-6371
Lory E. Larson, Project Manager, Edison Technology Solutions, (626) 815-0520
William E. Horne, Vice President, EDTEK, (253) 395-8084
Michael Wilt, Vice President, Electromagnetic Instruments, Inc., (510) 232-7997
Jerald A. Cole, Project Manager, Energy and Environmental Research Corporation, (714) 859-8851
Renee H. Guild, Executive Manager, Public Benefits, EPRI, (650) 855-8987
Isaac Chan, Program Leader, Gas Research Institute, (Low NOx burner project), (773) 399-5411
Lou A. Lautman, Project Manager, Gas Research Institute, (natural gas engine project), (773) 399-5461
Thomas G. Benjamin, Project Manager, M-C Power Corporation, (630) 986-8040
Thomas L. Dinwoddie, President, Powerlight Corporation, (510) 540-0550
Kenneth R. Broome, Managing Partner, Powerwheel Associates, (650) 529-1810
Dan Whitney, PVUSA Site Manager, (SMUD project), (916) 732-5351
Grainger Hunt, Associate Specialist, University of California, Santa Cruz, (408) 459-2466
Gilbert Duran, Manager of Contracts, Utility Power Group, Inc., (818) 700-1995
Dr. Stephen Veyo, Fuel Cell Projects, Westinghouse Electric Company, (412) 256-1901
Lawrence W. Miles, President, The Wind Turbine Company, (425) 637-1470
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