CEC Changing PIER Program

By Published On: April 1, 2011

The California Energy Commission says that in response to stakeholder recommendations, it plans to improve administration of its Public Interest Energy Research program. “It’s time to look back at what’s worked and hasn’t worked, and what’s changed in terms of needs of the state and how that should be reflected in our programs,” commission chair Bob Weisenmiller said. “It’s a time for new leadership in the [energy] division to sort of re-look at everything and make sure it all holds together.” The changes and goals are outlined in the annual PIER report, which was approved by the commission March 30. “With this report, we make commitments going forward to initiate a new strategic plan to refocus the program,” program manager Laurie ten Hope said. “This will provide the right framework for the program going forward.” The annual report details what the commission’s PIER program accomplished during the year and future goals. Among the changes and goals outlined in it are: – Establishing a more transparent decision-making process for project research priorities, and placing a greater focus on the later stages of research, development, and demonstration; – Increasing integration of the PIER program with the California Air Resources Board, California Public Utilities Commission, and other state agencies; – Streamlining program administration and measuring the economic and jobs benefits of the program overall and of specific research projects; and – Involving the state’s utilities and the California Independent System Operator in the process for formulating research initiatives, as well as the scientific community and the private sector. The report also reveals that the CEC issued a total of $86.5 million for electricity and natural gas research during calendar year 2010, including $62.5 million for electricity research, development, and demonstration projects and $24 million for natural gas research and development projects. Most funding for projects amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The largest amount, $3.9 million, went to an Oakland and Los Angeles-based new energy and environmental technology company called Bevilacqua-Knight. Throughout the year, the commission funded projects in the areas of “smart grid” technology, renewable resource integration, advanced transportation and fuel technologies, efficient industry and offices, zero net energy homes, climate change, and innovative energy small grants. Future research activities, according to the report, include developing and demonstrating energy efficiency technologies that can be implemented by ratepayers; accelerating the deployment of renewable energy technologies; incorporating automated demand response technologies into California’s statewide smart grid infrastructure; and developing and demonstrating zero net energy buildings.

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