For Immediate Release: August 10, 2016
Media Contact: Michael Ward - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Funds LA Energy Innovation Cluster to Aid Entrepreneurs
Santa Monica Receives $1.5 Million for Microgrid Project Through the EPIC Challenge

SACRAMENTO - The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator received a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission today to establish a Los Angeles Regional Energy Innovation Cluster (LA REIC) that will support clean energy entrepreneurship and networking opportunities in the Southern California coastal region.

The LA REIC was one of several projects funded through the Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program. The EPIC program funds innovative clean energy technologies and approaches that bring clean energy ideas to market.

The LA REIC will be the central coordinating organization for clean energy start-up companies in the Los Angeles Region and will provide access to resources and facilities to help entrepreneurs commercialize their innovations. The LA REIC will work with key stakeholders in Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties to identify the region’s energy needs and connect them with energy technology solutions being developed by early-stage business ventures and universities.

The LA REIC joins the Central Valley Regional Energy Innovation Cluster, the Bay Area Regional Energy Innovation Cluster and the San Diego Regional Energy Innovation Cluster as clean energy entrepreneurship hubs that have received grants from the Energy Commission. The clusters are seen as developmental pathways that will help the state meet its energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals.

EPIC grants were also approved for five projects that identify, test and demonstrate water and energy savings or that develop new approaches that accelerate the deployment of drought resilience strategies. Grants totaling $5 million were awarded to:

  • UC Davis for cooling technologies that reduce heat exposure for dairy cattle
  • Porifera, Inc., for a low-energy barrier system for water treatment
  • Altex Technologies Corp., for a hybrid wet/dry heat exchanger for chiller systems
  • Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC for a wastewater treatment process that reduces desalination costs
  • Kennedy/Jenks Consultants for a pilot test of a technology that minimizes the fouling of membrane surfaces in wastewater treatment operations

The City of Santa Monica received a $1.5 million EPIC grant to plan and design a microgrid that will incorporate renewable energy, energy storage and electric vehicle charging in that city. The grant stems from the Commission’s EPIC Challenge launched earlier this year. Teams made up of private and governmental entities compete against each other to demonstrate innovative strategies that could become models to help accelerate the development of zero net energy communities. Santa Monica’s entry is one of 13 projects selected to compete in the challenge.

To demonstrate the energy savings and increased user satisfaction possible by pairing comfort-sensing ceiling fans with learning thermostats, UC Berkeley received a $1.8 million EPIC grant. Comfort-sensing ceiling fans have built-in technology that automatically adjusts fan speed to the home environment, while learning thermostats automatically adjust home heating and cooling controls based on space conditions and user’s schedule. UC Berkeley will install the integrated fan/thermostat system in low income multi-family housing in disadvantaged communities throughout the state.

For details on all actions taken at today’s business meeting see the business meeting agenda.

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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.