Energy Commission Pumps More Money into Clean Economy

By Published On: May 13, 2021

The California Energy Commission doled out another $39 million in clean energy funding Wednesday, adding to the hundreds of millions of dollars it has approved over the last several years.

The largest share of this round of grants, $9 million, went to advance hydrogen fueling of buses. Of that amount, $5 million is to go to SunLine Transit Agency to expand its fueling infrastructure to add a heavy-duty liquid hydrogen station. Sunline runs buses across the Coachella Valley and is developing a fuel cell fleet. Another $4 million will go to the North County Transit District for a bus fueling station. North County is a large agency operating buses and commuter trains across northern San Diego County.

Another $7 million was awarded to two projects for bidirectional school bus batteries to provide behind-the-meter storage and power as needed. One grant of $4 million will go to Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to develop a charging system using direct current with an integrated solar canopy and stationary storage. The other is $3.3 million going to the artificial intelligence software startup Moev to demonstrate a system for managing EV charging at the fleet level. It’s made up of electric transit buses, charging stations, a battery energy storage system, and solar PV that can provide distributed energy.

Food processing plant efficiency grants

The Energy Commission routinely provides grants to curb energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from food processing and production companies. They are large consumers of natural gas, producing a lot of climate pollution.

This week, the CEC okayed a $5 million grant for energy efficient refrigeration and retrofits to the hot water system at the Jessie Lord pie bakery in Torrance.  

Another $900,000 was awarded to the Campbell Soup Company to retrofit an evaporator at a tomato processing plant.

Baker Commodities, a grease recycling and animal rendering plant in Vernon, will get $857,350 for new efficient boilers and insulation.  

E. & J. Gallo Winery landed a $770,000 grant for a high-efficiency compressor system at its Livingston winery and to switch over its refrigeration to ammonia, which is far less damaging to the climate than traditional refrigerants.

Other sizable grants include:

  • $3.5 million to EPC Corp. in San Diego to repurpose second life electric vehicles batteries to provide 1 MW of energy storage at a power plant in the San Juaquin area.
  • $1.64 million to Stasis Energy Group for thermal energy storage systems at 10 commercial buildings, with more than half of the sites located in disadvantaged or low-income communities. The demonstration project will use a bio-based phase change material that stores energy from the HVAC system during daily cooling operations and releases the energy when energy prices soar.
  • $1.48 million to Skyven Technologies for the development of a high concentration PV and thermal system for solar combined heat and power in industrial applications.

Also approved were two loans to public agencies for $5.8 million. One is a zero interest $2.9 million loan to the Ravenwood City School District for PV arrays and efficient lighting retrofits. The other is a $2.8 million loan to Mariposa County at 1% interest for LED lighting installations at eight county sites and carport solar PV systems at four facilities.

The four commissioners also signed off on three municipal energy efficiency codes that go beyond state standards.

  • The City of Piedmont’s new ordinance requires low-rise residential projects to include certain energy efficiency measures and any newly constructed low-rise residential building be an all-electric.
  • The City of San Carlos mandates that new buildings and non-residential structures include solar installations, and new buildings be all electric. Exceptions are allowed for gas-fired cooking and fireplaces.
  • The City of Albany requires new buildings to meet or exceed specified Energy Design Ratings.

But it wasn’t all clean energy on the CEC’s agenda this Wednesday.

The Commission also agreed to create a committee to review the environmental impacts of yet another proposed 96 MW diesel backup project at a data center to see if it should be exempt from state permitting. The latest proposal was filed last month by Vantage Date Services in Santa Clara. It is planning to install for 44 2.75 MW diesel powered units that would fire up if there is a power shutoff.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now