For Immediate Release: June 14, 2016
Media Contact: Amber Pasricha Beck - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Approves More Than $16 Million to Save Water, Identify Methane Leaks and Secure Natural Gas Infrastructure
$13.5 Million Also Approved for Alternative Fuels and Transportation Projects

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today approved grants to demonstrate water and energy savings, identify large methane leaks and evaluate the effects of climate change on the state’s natural gas infrastructure.

Continued conservation of water is a priority as California heads into the summer months. The Energy Commission approved more than $8.5 million in grants to promote innovative technologies and strategies that save water and energy. The projects are expected to accelerate the deployment of drought-resilient strategies that minimize the need for new water-related energy infrastructure. The approved projects include: a biofiltration system from Tomorrow Water for treating contaminated groundwater; a water treatment method from Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Inc. that will reduce organic waste in wastewater treatment plants; and three leak detection technologies from American Water Works Company, Inc. designed to help municipal water districts reduce the amount of water lost from leaky pipes.

Projects are funded through the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC), which develops, demonstrates, and brings to market technologies and best practices that support California’s energy policy goals.

Methane leak detection
Recent state legislation mandated the monitoring of high-emission methane hot spots. The Energy Commission approved a $600,000 contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in order to illustrate the impact of methane as a greenhouse gas and identify the source of these emissions. NASA will use advanced imaging technologies to survey California’s natural gas infrastructure.

The project is funded from the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Natural Gas Program. PIER drives innovation and advances science and technology in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy and advanced clean generation, energy-related environmental protection, energy transmission and distribution, and transportation.

Natural gas infrastructure
Disruptions of the natural gas system in California due to climate change-induced events can adversely affect public health and safety and impact the rest of the economy. Several recent pipeline failures suggest the need to systematically assess various threats and make decisions in a timely fashion. These threats are highly location specific and are likely to increase with time.

The Energy Commission approved nearly $1.5 million in PIER grants to the University of California Irvine and UC Santa Cruz to examine regional natural gas infrastructure to help mitigate the possible future effects of climate variability and extreme weather. The project will determine what changes and improvements to the gas system would be needed to significantly reduce the system’s vulnerability to climate change. UC Irvine will develop a map of the gas system that will provide critical information on weaknesses. UC Irvine will focus its efforts in Southern California, excluding San Diego. UC Santa Cruz will focus on Northern California. A grant to examine the natural gas infrastructure in San Diego area was approved in November 2015.

The Energy Commission also awarded $3.7 million to the Gas Technology Institute to develop and demonstrate technologies that improve natural gas pipeline safety and integrity. The three PIER grants will look at the current status of pipelines, create pipeline maps, and demonstrate a notification system to reduce the risk of third party damage on pipeline infrastructure. Gas Technology Institute was awarded two additional grants to demonstrate innovative energy efficiency technologies that can help reduce natural gas use in the state’s industrial sector.

In addition, the Commission approved a grant to Det Norske Veritas, Inc. to demonstrate an advanced risk assessment methodology for managing the integrity of pipelines in California. This grant will help to assess corrosion and mechanical damage threats.

Other actions
The Energy Commission approved a number of other items including:

  • Nearly $13.5 million in grants to showcase low- and zero-emission vehicles at two of the state’s busiest seaports, identify and install electric vehicle charging sites at California’s national parks, and hydrogen refueling station evaluations. Project funds are from the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which aims to reduce California’s use and dependence on petroleum transportation fuels and increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels and advanced vehicle technologies.
  • A $1.1 million grant to Build It Green to research and assess the performance of innovative space heating and cooling systems, water heaters and other technologies in low-income, multifamily residences in Oakland, Atascadero, Calistoga and Cloverdale to determine their ability to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings and possibly help them achieve zero net energy, where a building produces as much energy as it consumes.

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

# # #

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.