Research & Development: The Science of Innovation

Economic vitality and social well-being depend upon affordable, safe and reliable energy. In today's world, the energy we use and the ways we use it are changing. For California to make the leap from the status quo to achieving climate and energy goals at the lowest possible cost, we need much more energy innovation. Rigorous, public and impartial research and development (R&D) investments strategically diversify California's energy portfolio and move innovations through the pipeline from concept to market. Energy Commission R&D innovations advance the frontiers of science and technology to make California's energy safer, more reliable and less costly.

An overview of what we do and why it matters

Energy Commission R&D Programs

The Energy Commission administers several R&D programs that drive innovation and advance 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. The new Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program invests in improvements to the state's electricity systems. The Natural Gas Research, Development and Demonstration program invests in improvements to California's natural gas systems. The Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Electric program will no longer fund new R&D though existing projects will continue through 2015.

EPIC: California's Investment in the 21st Century Electric Grid

EPIC is a new R&D program that replaces the ended Public Goods Charge's R&D program funding. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) created EPIC, selected the Energy Commission as one of the four administrators of EPIC funds, and approved the first triennial investment plans for EPIC expenditures on November 14, 2013. The three other administrators are Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). EPIC will fund innovative technologies, tools and approaches that provide benefits to electric ratepayers in PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E service territories through greater reliability, lower costs, increased safety, and enhanced environmental sustainability. Providing benefits to these ratepayers is the primary goal because EPIC funds come from them.

EPIC is the most comprehensive statewide approach to creating new energy solutions, fostering regional innovation and bringing ideas to the marketplace. EPIC consolidates the R&D initiatives of the three largest investor-owned utility service areas into an aggregate program, which ensures no duplication in spending and also implements compliance with state energy policies. Under this program, Energy Commission electricity R&D will move energy technologies and products from the lab to life, make our electricity system safer and more reliable, lower costs and give ratepayers choices and control. Find more information about the creation of EPIC. Read our first Triennial Investment Plan.

A schedule of future planned funding opportunities for this program is available, and the Energy Commission will begin issuing solicitations shortly

The Vision for the Future

A vision for 2020 and beyond underlies the Energy Commission's investments of EPIC funds. The vision aligns proposed research, demonstration and deployment activities with the state's energy policies and aligns with major elements of California's investor-owned utilities' plans.

Energy Commission R&D under EPIC will help further advancements including:

  • A modern, flexible, technologically advanced electricity grid that is safer, is more reliable and gives ratepayers the ability to better control energy use

  • Highly efficient and zero-net-energy buildings with energy systems that are integrated with advanced communications capabilities

  • A better consumer energy experience built around choice made possible by better visualization tools, sophisticated and customer-friendly control options and seamless integration of renewables at customers' homes and businesses

  • A cleaner energy generation process using more diverse fuel sources and reduced environmental impacts

  • A transportation system that increasingly uses electricity and has a pathway to enable 1.5 million plug-in electric vehicles by 2025 and make electric vehicles more cost-effective and environmentally friendly for California consumers

The Energy R&D Division

The California Energy Commission's Energy R&D Division is composed of engineers, scientists and administrative and management professionals who collectively lead California's public interest energy research programs. The division collaborates with utilities, businesses, agencies, and local governments to create an action-oriented nexus for energy improvements. The division shares results of research publicly, invests in California and continually works to strengthen the innovation pipeline that brings research from the lab to life.

Commitment to Diversity

The Energy Commission is committed to ensuring participation in its R&D programs reflect the rich and diverse characteristics of California and its people. To meet this commitment, Energy Commission staff conducts outreach efforts and activities to:

  • Ensure potential new applicants throughout the state are aware of the Energy Commission's R&D programs and the funding opportunities they provide.

  • Encourage greater participation by underrepresented groups including disabled veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.

  • Assist applicants in understanding how to apply for funding from the Energy Commission's R&D programs.

Find out how to apply for funding opportunities through the EPIC Program.

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