For Immediate Release: April 11, 2012
Media Contact: Kelly Kell - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Awards $3 Million to Advance Natural Gas Technology
UC, Berkeley, UC, Riverside Earn PIER Grants

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today awarded more than $3 million to the University of California for research improving natural gas production, fuel infrastructure, and pipeline reliability.

Funds for the projects come from the Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

"Our investment in natural gas research will accelerate the development of clean energy technology in California," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert Weisenmiller. "Through this partnership with the University of California, we move one step closer to achieving our state's greenhouse gas reduction goals, while maintaining safety and reliability."

UC, Riverside was awarded $1.4 million to research and develop a more efficient thermochemical method of renewable gas production. This method aims to utilize biomass resources within California, such as green and organic waste from landfills, to produce natural gas in a way that releases less greenhouse gas emissions into the environment.

Currently, California receives 87 percent of its natural gas from out-of-state sources. Use of this new technology has the potential of replacing 30 percent of the total natural gas used annually in California thereby decreasing the state's reliance on outside energy sources.

UC, Riverside was also awarded $1.2 million to ensure the compatibility of natural gas and other alternative fuels with existing transportation fuels infrastructure. California's current fuel infrastructure was built to distribute petroleum-based fuels and is too extensive and costly to replace. As the state increases use of alternative transportation fuels, it is imperative that the current system be able to adopt and utilize petroleum alternatives.

UC, Berkeley received $425,000 to study the effects of sea level rise on gas pipelines located in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta regions. As the sea level rises due to climate change, gas pipelines are increasingly vulnerable to salt water corrosion and failure. The study will map out current pipelines and study ways to mitigate the impact of sea water intrusion to the system.

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The Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program supports public interest research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace. For more information, visit

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies