Energy Innovations Small Grants - Electricity Research Program

The Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) Program provides up to $95,000 for hardware projects and $50,000 for modeling projects to small businesses, non-profits, individuals and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. Research projects must target one of the PIER R&D areas, address a California energy problem, and provide a potential benefit to California electric ratepayers. Up to four solicitations per year are planned. To encourage participation in the program the application and award process has been simplified and assistance is available in gaining access to technical experts. The Grant Application Manual and supporting documents can be downloaded from the web page containing the current solicitation notice.

Program Questions & Answers


Who can apply for a grant?

Participation in the EISG program is restricted to the following groups:

  • Individuals: Must be acting independently. If employed or affiliated with an organization, applicant has authority from the organization to pursue project development exclusively as an individual with no rights reserved to the organization. The individual, not the organization, retains all intellectual property rights accrued from the grant project.
  • Small Businesses: EISG Program uses the Federal definition of small as specified in Title 13, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 121 (13 CFR ¤ 121), Small Business Size Regulations ( Size requirement varies based on type of business with the average requirement being either prior year gross receipts cannot exceed $5,000,000 or total employees cannot exceed 500.
  • Non-Profit Organizations: Possess IRS tax exemption. Non-profit organizations that are already under contract to the Energy Commission to perform PIER related work outside of the EISG Program are prohibited from applying to the EISG Program.
  • Academic Institutions: Public or private postsecondary institutions.

Federal agencies, federal laboratories, or Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) are not eligible.

The Energy Commission reserves the right to limit participation in a particular solicitation to one or more of the four applicant groups and/or to limit the subject areas in order to meet overall program objectives. If a solicitation is restricted by applicant type or subject area it will be clearly identified in the solicitation notice published on the EISG Solicitation web page.

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Can an applicant submit more than one proposal in a solicitation?

Individuals, small businesses and non-profit organizations are limited to submitting one proposal per solicitation. An individual who is also a sole proprietor is considered a single entity for the purpose of this policy. Academic institutions and their Foundations are limited to submitting one proposal from any one principal investigator in a given solicitation. An individual cannot serve as a principal investigator on more than one EISG grant at a time. Multiple projects cannot be proposed in a single application. If more than one proposal is submitted the Program Administrator will accept the first proposal received or the first proposal logged in if more than one proposal is sent in the same package and will return the remaining proposal(s) to the applicant.

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Can an applicant who already received an EISG grant submit a proposal in a subsequent solicitation?

EISG Awardees are allowed only one active EISG Electricity grant at a time. EISG Awardees cannot submit another proposal for consideration until the EISG Program Administrator has published an Independent Assessment Report on the Awardee's last grant project.

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Can I submit the same proposal to the EISG Electricity, Natural Gas, and Transportation programs?

No. Applicants are currently limited to submitting the same energy concept proposal to either the EISG Electricity or the EISG Natural Gas program or the EISG Transportation program. Even though the proposal may be applicable to all EISG programs, the applicant must choose the program in which the concept is most applicable. Please visit the website and click on Electricity, Natural Gas, or Transportation research and review the project subject areas available for funding.

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What type of work is not eligible for funding?

The following types of research and activities are not eligible for EISG funding:

  • Advanced development of concepts already proven feasible
  • Science or technology advances adequately addressed by competitive and regulated markets
  • Full-scale prototyping when subscale or bench testing would be more appropriate
  • Transportation related energy projects
  • Planning and policy studies
  • Data gathering and reporting activities
  • Marketing and promotion activities
  • Market, literature, or technology assessments/surveys
  • Technology demonstrations of existing technologies for public outreach/education
  • Product development, testing, or validations normally done after research
  • Commercialization or certifications (e.g., UL Listing)
  • Research that is not PIER related and has no clear market connection
  • Meta-analysis studies
  • Gas research with little or no connection to electric generation/end use (innovations capable of shifting significant peak electric load to natural gas will be considered)
  • Research that does not propose a clear solution to an existing energy problem
  • Research that seeks to identify a new energy problem or further define an existing energy problem with no focus on proving feasibility of a specific solution
  • Software development with no research or validation component

The proposals that are most competitive are those that speak with clarity and focus and:

  1. Will establish the feasibility of concepts designed to advance energy science and/or technology beneficial to California's electric ratepayers;
  2. Identify the research gaps that make the project necessary;
  3. Describes the research tasks required to complete the project and identifies all related performance objectives associated with each task.

Applicants are cautioned about the development and/or use of software for research and validation. Such proposals must have a strong validation component. Software may be used as an already validated tool, in which case the proposal must contain convincing information that establishes the reliability and independence of the validation. Software may also be developed and used for modeling and simulation in the course of the project, in which case the proposal must contain the use of a standard or some other device or approach that will be used to independently establish the validity of the project results. Proposals that seek to establish theoretical feasibility through computer modeling and simulation most often fail because they lack a strong validation component.

Applicants that are in doubt about the suitability of a particular subject area or type of research are encouraged to submit an informal 2-3 page pre-proposal abstract to the EISG Program Administrator for evaluation prior to submitting a full application. See Part 2. A. in the Grant Application Manual for additional details.

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What project subject areas are eligible for funding?

EISG Program is designed to fill a fairly narrow research niche that focuses on early "proof of concept" research of new innovative energy ideas to determine if they are technologically and economically feasible. To be eligible, the subject area must target one of the six PIER program areas listed below:

  • Industrial/Agriculture/Water End-use Efficiency

    The Industry/Agriculture/Water program area covers three distinct areas of "process energy". The three areas include: industry, which includes food processing; agriculture, largely for irrigation pumping and water/wastewater used by municipal water and wastewater systems. While each of these areas has unique research needs, they share some issues in common.

    The industrial energy problems offer the most opportunity due to the diversity of the California's industrial base. Research that targets energy problems that cut across several industries would appear to offer greater potential public benefits than single industry problems.

  • Building End-use Efficiency

    The end use efficiency subject area includes RD&D activities that either: (a) reduce the energy input requirements per unit of energy output or service of end-use devices or systems; (b) conserve energy by reducing demand for energy goods and services; or (c) reduce energy-related expenditures by facilitating load management techniques.

    Public benefits achievable in the end-use efficiency subject area include improved air quality, decreased use of fossil fuels, reduced expenditures on energy by consumers, and increased statewide and regional economic benefits.

  • Environmentally Preferred Advanced Generation

    Environmentally preferred advanced generation is broadly defined as RD&D activities targeting the development of highly efficient electric generation technologies using clean fuels. In determining whether a particular fuel is "clean" or not, consideration must be given to environmental impacts across the entire fuel cycle of the type of generation proposed (e.g., including fuel production, transportation, refinement and generation). RD&D efforts in this area should address improvements in generation efficiency and/or environmental performance.

    Public benefits from RD&D efforts in the environmentally preferred advanced generation subject area include reduced electricity production costs, reduced fuel consumption and reduced environmental impacts.

  • Renewable Generation

    Renewable energy sources include solar radiation, geothermal fluids, biomass, water, and wind available for conversion to energy. Technology applications include, but are not limited to: photovoltaic systems; solar thermal; wind turbines; hydropower; geothermal energy; and biomass energy. Renewable technologies hybridized with fossil-fuel fired energy are acceptable within the definition of renewable energy.

    Renewable energy can provide public benefits such as energy price security, improved environmental quality, increased benefits to local and regional economies, improved management of natural resources through the use of indigenous energy resources, and protection of public health and safety.

  • Energy-Related Environmental Research

    Electricity production, delivery and use affects various aspects of the environment such as the quality of our air (both outside and indoors), the quality and availability of our water resources, the populations and habitat of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife and plants, our aesthetic response to the viewshed, the occurrence of hazardous material and toxic wastes, and our cultural and recreational resources. These impacts are usually difficult to quantify and to separate from non-energy influences.

    he environmental efforts of the PIER program should aim at understanding and/or addressing the environmental effects and costs of energy production, delivery and use in California, as well as exploring how new electricity applications and products can solve environmental issues.

  • Energy Systems Integration (ESI) (formerly "Strategic Energy Research")

    nergy Systems Integration research includes RD&D activities/enabling technologies that cut across two or more of the subject areas or provide energy-related public interest science and/or technologies that do not fit within the other subject areas.

    "Cross-cutting" strategic energy RD&D activities could include system-related projects that utilize renewables, environmentally preferred advanced generation, energy efficiency and environmental technologies in an integrated manner.

    RD&D activities related to grid reliability, safety and capacity, energy related tools and assessment technologies also fall within the ESI subject area.

Additional details about the Energy Commission's research program subject areas can be found on the Research and Development page of the Commission's website.

EISG proposals are not required to address specific PIER research issues since the EISG Program was designed to remain open to all new technologies that may not have been previously considered as potential solutions to California's energy problems. However, EISG funded projects that do not clearly address one or more of the PIER research issues are unlikely to be recommended for follow-on funding within the main PIER Program unless a major technological breakthrough was made that has the potential to significantly impact the California electric market.

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How long do awardees have to complete projects?

The period of performance on a grant project may not exceed 12 months. All deliverables, including the Final Report, must be received during the stated term of the grant agreement.

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To what level has the program been funded?

Approximately $62 million per year is collected from California electricity ratepayers for the PIER Program of which $2.6 million per year has been allocated to the EISG Program for grants through 2007. Up to four solicitations per year are planned. When a solicitation notice expires the next solicitation will generally be posted on the EISG Solicitation web page within 30-60 days.

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What is the procedure for requesting assistance?

Applicants may request the following assistance:

  • Help in completing the administrative requirements of the Grant Application Manual.
  • Obtain informal assessments on proposed research topics.
  • Obtain additional feedback on proposals submitted in prior solicitations that were not funded.

Applicants may direct their requests for assistance to the EISG Program Administrator via email, phone, fax or mail (see "Whom Do I Contact For More Information" for contact information). In the case of locating technical experts, the Program Administrator recommends using your local university/college as a resource to assist with proposal preparation or serve as team members or subcontractors on a project. It is the responsibility of the applicant to contact the recommended persons to discuss and negotiate an arrangement (e.g., a subcontract or a joint participation agreement) that would become effective upon grant award. The cost of the technical expert's participation must be included in Proposed Budget Summary (Form D) in the grant application.

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How long does it take to receive project funding?

It takes approximately six months after the cutoff date to complete the proposal evaluation, approval and agreement execution process. Project research may begin as soon as the grant agreement is fully executed by the EISG Program Administrator. The schedule for the funding cycle is as follows:

Pre-proposal Abstracts Accepted (Optional): See Solicitation Notice for submission cutoff
Grant Applications Received: No later than 5 p.m. on proposal cutoff date
Commission Approval of Awards: Within 20 weeks of cutoff date
Notification of Awards: Within 5 business days (mail & website)
Execute Grant Agreements: Average time is 4 weeks after approval

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What are my options for submitting my grant application package?

Electronic submission is required. You must also mail the original hardcopy and 3 full single-sided copies including any supporting documents. Please see the Grant Application Manual for specific instructions regarding submission.

Grant Applications must be submitted on paper for two reasons. First, we need an original signature on one of the copies. Second, by having the applicant provide the three copies, the applicant can be assured that the copies forwarded to reviewers are complete. Submit applications to the appropriate address below:

Address if sent by U.S. Postal Service:

EISG Program Administrator
San Diego State University Foundation
5250 Campanile Drive, MC 1858
San Diego, CA 92182-1858

Physical address for FedEx, UPS or hand delivery:

EISG Program Administrator
6495 Alvarado Rd., Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92120

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What are my options for obtaining application materials?

  1. You can download the Grant Application Manual in PDF or Word from the EISG Solicitation page. Form D (Proposed Budget) is also available as an Excel file to facilitate data entry and computations. Form D is also included in the PDF and Word versions of the application manual.
  2. Applicants that are not able to download the application documents from the solicitation page on the web may request a paper copy of the Grant Application Manual via email, fax or mail. Please include in the request your name, organization and mailing address.

    Email the request to

    Or Fax the request to: (619) 594-0996

    Or mail the request to:

    EISG Program Administrator
    San Diego State University Foundation
    5250 Campanile Drive, MC 1858
    San Diego, CA 92182-1858

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Whom do I contact for more information?

If you have any questions regarding the EISG Program, please contact the EISG Program Administrator.

EISG Program Administrator
San Diego State University Foundation
5250 Campanile Drive, MC 1858
San Diego, CA 92182-1858

Phone: (619) 594-1049

Fax: (619) 594-0996


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How can I be notified of future EISG Solicitations?

Individuals and organizations that desire to receive an e-mail notification of only EISG solicitations can subscribe to the EISG Solicitation Notification List by sending an email to the EISG Program Administrator, In the subject line or body of the email indicate, "Subscribe to the EISG Solicitation Notification List". If you want the notification to go to a different email address than the address the email was sent from then indicate the email address you want the notification sent to.

Information sent to the EISG Program Administrator will be used solely to contact people regarding the program. The data gathered is subject to state privacy regulations and cannot be released to others or used for any other purposes except for that for which it was intended.

Individuals and organizations that desire to receive a notification of all Energy Commission funding solicitations may subscribe to the Commission's "opportunity" list server at the bottom of the right-hand column of the Commission Contracts Page. You will receive e-mail announcements of all Energy Commission funding notices and solicitations, including all Energy Innovations Small Grant Program solicitations.

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Call for "Subject Matter Experts" interested in serving as project team members or consultants.

The EISG Program is in the process of constructing a database of qualified Subject Matter Experts that are interested in serving as team members or consultants on grant projects. Our intent is to provide a public database that grant applicants can use to assist them in putting together research teams for grant proposals. The database would be published on the web and organized around specific energy technologies (PV, wind turbines, gas turbines etc.) and education or training (mechanical engineering, chemist, physicist, CAD expert, machinist etc.). Those interested in being added to the database need to send a 1-2 page bio or résumé that is approved for publication on the web. The bio must include the following information:

  • Contact information
  • Specify the type of work you are interested in performing.
  • Education or training
  • Experience in area(s) that you desire to serve as a subject matter expert.
  • At your option you may provide additional information such as time availability, labor costs, willingness to sign non-disclosure agreements and willingness to provide references upon request who can vouch for the quality of your work.

It is the responsibility of the grant applicants to contact the Subject Matter Experts directly to negotiate their level of participation and compensation contingent upon the applicant receiving a grant award. The applicant is also responsible for taking the necessary prudent actions to validate the education and experience claims made by the Subject Matter Experts, such as checking references. The Program Administrator assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided by the Subject Matter Experts.

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