For Immediate Release: December 1, 2010
Media Contact: Sandy Louey - 916-654-4989


Energy Commission Awards Nearly $3 Million for Energy Research

SACRAMENTO - Demonstrating the importance of funding innovation, the California Energy Commission today approved $2,868,787 for four energy research projects including solutions for retrofitting lighting in commercial buildings. The research projects are funded by the Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

The University of California, Davis will receive $1,995,032 to develop and demonstrate whole building retrofit solutions for existing multi-tenant light commercial buildings. The goal is to increase energy efficiency, reduce peak electricity demand, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Multi-tenant light commercial buildings include strip malls, small office parks and mixed-use developments. Research on retrofitting existing commercial buildings - many of which have outdated technologies - is needed and represents a promising opportunity in reaching the state's greenhouse gas and energy efficiency targets.

The research will identify an appropriate menu of retrofit technologies for multi-tenant light commercial buildings, show market barriers to avoid, and recommend strategic mechanisms and solutions to provide an integrated solution for retrofitting those buildings. The UC Davis team that will do the work consists of three principal investigators as well as the faculty and staff from the California Lighting Technology Center, the Energy Efficiency Center, the Graduate School of Management, and the Western Cooling Efficiency Center.

The Commission also approved a $400,000 grant to Utility Savings and Refund, LLC of Irvine for a project to demonstrate the benefits of using energy storage systems in conjunction with an on-site fuel cell power generation. Another $2.5 million for the project is coming from other sources, with $1.3 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $1.2 million from the California Public Utilities Commission. The project hopes to demonstrate a number of things including an overall energy bill reduction of 20 to 25 percent, a reduction in peak utility demand charges, and a reduction in fuel cell down-time. The demonstration site is the Dublin San Ramon Services District's Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility in Pleasanton. Integrating specific rechargeable flow battery (i.e vanadium redox) energy storage systems with fuel cells is an approach that can benefit a number of energy-intensive industries and institutions including colleges, universities, and military bases.

Federspiel Controls of El Cerrito will receive $250,000 to help demonstrate and field test energy efficient cooling control technologies at data centers. The funding will be used as a cost share to the $548,078 that Federspiel Controls received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project will demonstrate cooling control technology integrated with wireless network sensors to control the cooling of data centers. The project will also employ air management best practices. The demonstration sites are eight data centers in the Sacramento area and in Los Angeles that are operated by State of California agencies.

The project's methods could be used by a wide range of data centers and energy consumption could be reduced by 26 percent. The U.S. Geological Survey will receive $223,755 to provide new and enhanced habitat suitability models that will be used to predict the potential distribution and habitat of the Mohave ground squirrel, which is state-listed as threatened. The work will help identify important corridors and potential compensation land locations and assess the impacts of solar energy projects in the Mojave and Colorado desert regions. The research will help guide habitat preservation decisions and provide information to assist in the siting, design, permitting, and mitigation of solar energy projects.


The Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program supports public interest research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace. For more information, visit

Created by the California Legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.

# # #