For Immediate Release: May 17, 2016
Media Contact: Michael Ward - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Approves Grants for Building Efficiency and Innovative R&D

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission approved a series of projects today that will help buildings become more energy efficient, enable research to improve the electrical system and provide direct energy savings to communities.

Electric Program Investment Charge Program (EPIC)
To meet California’s ongoing building energy efficiency goals, the Energy Commission approved a grant for nearly $5 million to the California Homebuilding Foundation for a community-scale demonstration of cost-effective zero net energy (ZNE) homes in the City of Chino. ZNE buildings produce as much energy as they consume through the use of energy efficient materials and technologies, and onsite generation.

The Commission approved a grant for nearly $4 million to the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto to demonstrate customer-centric energy efficiency retrofits in multi-family buildings in disadvantaged communities. The retrofits include sensors and control systems that allow customers to make informed decisions to reduce energy consumption.

The Commission approved a $3 million grant to Prospect Silicon Valley to retrofit a low-income, multi-unit, mixed-use building in San Francisco with ZNE upgrades to demonstrate their effectiveness in meeting the energy efficiency challenges often found with small to medium-sized commercial and residential buildings.

To benefit utility ratepayers, the Energy Commission approved $30 million in grants for 10 projects that support research into technologies that give customers greater control in managing energy use. Projects include intelligent software that continuously learns and adapts to manage residential energy demand.

The Commission approved more than $17 million in grants for 12 projects that will compete in a new program called the EPIC Challenge. Teams composed of private and governmental entities compete against each other to demonstrate innovative strategies that could become models to help accelerate the development of ZNE communities. The projects, several in disadvantaged communities, aim to develop energy strategies that can be replicated elsewhere. The projects include community-wide retrofits for energy and water efficiencies, shared technologies that will enable greater use of clean energy resources and community designs to transform existing neighborhoods to ones that create nearly as much energy as they consume.

More than $3 million in grants was approved for 11 projects that reduce the environmental and public health impacts of electricity generation and make the electricity system less vulnerable to climate impacts. Recipients included:

  • San Diego Zoo Global for a project to electronically track burrowing owls whose habitat has been displaced by energy development.
  • UC Irvine to demonstrate the viability of sensors to monitor and maintain the emission performance of distributed generation devices.

The Commission approved grants for nearly $4 million for projects that demonstrate energy efficiency and water savings:

  • UC Davis received a $2 million grant for a project that reduces energy use and enables indoor reuse of recycled water at a winery.
  • The Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority received $1.7 million for a battery storage system that improves efficiency and reduces the price of recycled water.

Energy Conservation Assistance Act
To increase the use of energy efficient technologies and demonstrate how projects can save energy, the Energy Commission approved three loans for more than $6 million for projects in Benicia, Baldwin Park and Port Hueneme:

  • The Benicia Unified School District received $3 million to install a parking canopy solar system that will save $200,000 annually in utility costs.
  • The City of Baldwin Park received $3 million to install energy efficiency upgrades and solar panels that will save $176,000 annually in utility costs.
  • The Oxnard Harbor District received $500,000 to retrofit lighting fixtures at Port of Hueneme with LEDs saving $41,000 annually in utility costs.

For details on individual projects or to view other actions taken at today’s business meeting, see

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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. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation and preparing for energy emergencies.