For Immediate Release: August 27, 2014
Media Contact: Amber Beck - 916-654-4989


California Funds Innovative Technologies to
Improve Natural Gas Pipeline Safety
Also approves $1 million in grants to expand number of electric vehicle charging stations

SACRAMENTO - As part of the ongoing effort to improve the safety of natural gas pipelines, the California Energy Commission voted at its business meeting today to approve three grants totaling $623,000 for technologies to monitor this critical energy infrastructure. The agency also approved an additional $1 million to fund new fast electric vehicle chargers in Southern California and expand chargers in Sonoma County. This latest investment further advances the state's progress toward a clean transportation future with reduced climate and air pollution..

Natural gas
To specifically address risks to the natural gas system posed by failing Delta Island levee infrastructure and long-term sea level rise, the commission awarded $325,000 to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Money will be used to gather valuable data using state of the art technology. Funded by the Natural Gas program that is part of the commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) effort, the project will include a bi-monthly survey by the USGS of levee roads accounting for approximately 1,700 km of high-priority energy infrastructure zones. Over the next two years, new research will provide unprecedented understanding of levee stability and the gradual sinking of land that could cause levee failure.

Physical Sciences Inc. of Pleasanton was awarded $150,000 to develop miniature methane laser sensors that would detect natural gas leaks in pipelines. Palios Corporation of Santa Clara will receive $148,000 to test a cost-effective, ultrasonic measurement system that would use non-destructive measures to quickly determine the strength of undisturbed and in-place steel natural gas transmission pipelines with minimal disruptions to service.

Electric vehicle charging stations
California has a goal to get 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) on the road by 2025. Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) has already allocated nearly $400 million to help bolster statewide ZEV infrastructure and create a viable market for these vehicles. Today, the commission approved $1 million in ARFVTP funding to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Encinitas and Sonoma County. Corridor Power, Inc was awarded nearly $500,000 to install 10 electric vehicle fast chargers in Encinitas and the County of Sonoma was awarded $500,000 to renovate 10 existing electric vehicle chargers and install three new electric vehicle chargers.

Research and development
The PIER program funds research and development projects to spur technologies that improve the delivery and use of power, benefit the environment and lower costs. Four grants were approved today for the following recipients:

  • West Biofuels of San Rafael was awarded $150,000 for a test project that would convert under-utilized agricultural biomass residues to synthetic gas to replace or blend with natural gas for on-site industrial and agricultural use.
  • University of California, Davis was awarded more than $129,000 to develop a low-cost, self-calibrating automatic controller that would reduce energy use in gas clothes dryers by 20 percent or more, by terminating the drying cycle when the remaining moisture content of the load is 2 percent or less. The university was also awarded more than $125,000 to increase biorenewable methane production by improving anaerobic digestion through development and characterization of a microbial community adapted to high-solids conditions. This project targets seasonal food processing residues, and aims to accelerate the adoption of anaerobic digestion in the food processing industry.
  • Solar Stream Innovations of Chino Hills was awarded $150,000 for a project that could decrease natural gas peak demand for heating during the winter and electricity generation during the summer by creating a special manifold to retrofit old equipment to increase winter water and space heating, and to generate high temperatures for efficient summer chiller operation.

Energy Efficiency
The Energy Commission’s Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) program is a zero- or low-interest loan program that funds projects at public entities. The following loans were approved at today’s meeting:

  • The City of Los Angeles received a $3 million loan at 1 percent interest to retrofit inefficient streetlights with light emitting diodes (LEDs). The energy-efficient lighting will save approximately $280,000 annually, and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by saving more than 2,000 megawatt-hours of electricity.
  • Hartnell Community College District in Salinas received a $3 million loan at zero percent interest for energy efficiency and renewable energy measures at the Hartnell College main campus. The project includes boiler upgrades and installing solar photovoltaic panels. The project is estimated to save the college more than $225,000 annually.

The commission also approved an updated version of the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) code compliance software for residential and nonresidential facilities (CBECC-Res and CBECC-Com). Among other improvements, this version of the software incorporates increased processing speed, programming for additional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and features, and corrections to the compliance reports section.

A detailed list of all items before the Commission can be found at the online business meeting agenda.

# # #

About the California Energy Commission
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 and based in Sacramento, the Energy Commission has seven core responsibilities that guide its actions when setting 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 projects; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.