Planning for More Renewable Energy

How much renewable energy is needed and where will it come from to meet California’s target of 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030?

Those questions and others were asked today at the latest workshop on the state’s Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative, sometimes called RETI 2.0 in reference to a similar effort implemented last decade to match transmission lines with the growing use of renewable energy.

Those leading the workshop, Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker, California Independent System Operator Chief Executive Officer Steve Berberich, Natural Resource Agency Special Assistant Saul Gomez, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management California State Director Jerome Perez, heard from staff that the information gathering process continues, and proposed recommendations are expected during the summer and fall.

Staff is currently assessing how much renewable energy might be needed, which resources might be important by 2030, how much renewable energy might come from different geographic areas, and might this forecasted level of renewable energy require additional transmission capacity.

Of in-state resources, possible wind and solar could be developed near Tehachapi, Victorville and Barstow, eastern Riverside County and the Imperial Valley. Geothermal also is a possible option in Imperial.

See materials from today’s presentation.

Energy Commission Showcases Job Opportunities

Dozens of Sacramento area residents learned about employment opportunities at the California Energy Commission during its first Diversity Career Fair on April 29.

The Energy Commission is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. A variety of technical and non-technical skills are needed to meet California’s climate and energy goals, said Energy Commission Public Adviser Alana Mathews, who serves as the lead for the agency's Diversity Working Group.

Positions are available for college students, graduates, and professionals in a variety of areas including engineering, science, conservation, and associated fields, Mathews said. There are job opportunities in fields such as administration, legal, and public health.

For more than a year, the Energy Commission has been formalizing its efforts to reach out to underrepresented groups with the goal of increasing diversity in the energy sector. The job fair is part of the Energy Commission’s expanded outreach to women, minority, disabled veteran, and LGBT communities.

“It’s our belief that broader participation leads to greater innovation,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller.

More information about careers and job opportunities can be found on the Energy Commission's careers webpage. Learn about the agency's outreach to communities at the diversity webpage.

Where to Place Nuclear Waste

California Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller participated in a meeting this week that focused on how to manage the nation’s nuclear waste.

Since spent nuclear fuel is stored at sites in California, Weisenmiller called on the federal government to find solutions for the safe transportation of waste and permanent storage.

That openness and desire for a long-term solution is what the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants to hear. The DOE is hosting eight consent-based siting public meetings around the country, with Sacramento, Boston, Chicago, and Tempe being among the sites.

DOE is working to develop solutions for the long-term, sustainable management of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. DOE is planning for an integrated waste management system to transport, store, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from commercial electricity generation and national defense activities.

To achieve this goal, DOE is implementing a process to site facilities collaboratively with the public, communities, stakeholders, and governments at the state, tribal, and local levels. The meeting in Sacramento was part of an effort to involve the public.

More information can be found at the DOE’s website. Comments can be made to the Invitation for Public Comment in the Federal Register or by emailing

Energy Commission Receives Thank You from Former Start-up

The California Energy Commission recently received a thank you note for helping a Bay Area start-up company springboard into the global energy storage market.

Primus Power CEO Tom Stepien thanked the Energy Commission for a $1 million grant that his company received from the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program in 2011 to develop and field test a low-cost, 25-megawatt energy storage system.

Primus, which is based in Hayward, developed what it calls an EnergyPod, which is a series of refrigerator-sized flow battery modules housed in stackable shipping containers. Last year, the company installed its first EnergyPod at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar. The 280-kilowatt (kW) system operates as a microgrid providing energy assurance to the base and integrating renewable energy from the installation’s 230-kW solar generating system into the electrical grid.

The success of the company’s system has led to additional grants and private investments. Primus employs 30 full-time employees in California and Asia and has partnerships with some of the world’s leading electric component and power delivery companies.

Since receiving the Energy Commission grant, Primus has:
  • Designed a second generation system with additional power, greater energy, and lower cost
  • Received 25 patents issued by seven countries. 
  • Installed its energy storage system for industrial customers throughout California.
  • Gone international, installing its storage systems in Kazakhstan and signed an agreement with an Israeli manufacturer that installed the technology at a production site in Rancho Cucamonga.
“Your funding has greatly assisted Primus. Thank you,” Stepien wrote in his note to the Energy Commission. “Together, we are creating new jobs, helping California achieve its energy goals and creating a cleaner, more reliable and more efficient electric grid.”

You are quite welcome!

Workshop on Proposed Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards

The California Energy Commission held a workshop today on the proposed standards for computers, monitors, and signage displays.

The proposal would potentially save about 2,500 gigawatt hours per year and reduce utility bills more than $400 million annually by 2024. This is enough electricity savings to power all the homes in San Francisco for a year.

Public workshops and meetings with industry were held following the 2015 release of the first proposal. The feedback led to a revised proposal that was released in March 2016. Some changes include the following:

  •  Additional detail was added to clarify the scope of the standards to include notebooks, desktops, thin-clients, small-scale servers, and workstations. The definitions make it clear that tablets, industrial computers, and game consoles are not covered.
  •  Modifications to the ENERGY STAR® test procedure were added. 
  • For desktop computers, several allowances for additional energy use were made. These include specialized units using specialty graphics, expandability, memory, hard-drives, and integrated displays. 
  • Power management language was added to exempt computers sold without an operating system.
  • Small volume manufacturers can be exempt from most manufacturing aspects of the standards.
Monitors and displays:
  • The standards will only cover monitors and displays with screen sizes of more than 17 inches. 
  • Food and Drug Administration-approved life-saving medical devices are excluded from the standards.
  • Professional signage displays that are found in many stadiums are excluded due to the limited data available on their energy use. 
  • An update to ENERGY STAR® version 7.0 test procedure.
  • Higher efficiency standards for monitors in sleep and off modes.

Stakeholders, industry representatives, and the public attended the workshop to provide input about the current proposal. Comments on the proposal are due May 16 and can be submitted online. The comments will guide changes to the staff analysis and proposed standards.

The Energy Commission is expected to adopt the proposed standards by the end of the year.

Achievements in Energy Efficiency Recognized with Green California Leadership Award

The California Energy Commission was honored for its work in energy efficiency with a Green California Leadership Award.

The awards, which were presented at the Green California Summit, recognized outstanding achievements by public entities in nine categories.

This week was the 10th anniversary of the Green California Summit, a conference which strives to highlight strategies, technologies, and best practices essential to reaching California’s climate goals.

The Energy Commission promotes statewide energy efficiency by setting and updating California’s building and appliance energy efficiency standards. In the past year, the Energy Commission supported energy efficiency and solar power projects in public schools through the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) K-12 program.

The Energy Commission approved the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards that will reduce energy costs, save consumers money, and increase comfort in new and upgraded homes. Millions of dollars were awarded and loaned for training on the installation of advance energy efficiency measures in construction projects and for clean energy projects.

Last year, the Energy Commission launched an energy efficiency enforcement program and a modernized appliance efficiency database to ensure consumers receive the energy savings expected from household appliances.

The Energy Commission’s efficiency programs help keep the state’s energy consumption flat, reduce the need for new generation to meet electricity demand, and help meet the state’s long-term energy goals.

During the summit, Energy Commission staff spoke at panels about the building commissioning requirements, compliance with the building energy efficiency standards, Proposition 39, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Energy Commission staff provided information for builders, schools, and stakeholders at a booth in the exhibit hall.

Electric Vehicle Drivers Can Get a Charge at Levi’s Stadium

New electric vehicle charging stations opened this week at a Santa Clara multi-story parking structure directly across from the main entrance of Levi’s Stadium.

The 49 stations, including a DC fast charger, were funded through about $599,000 in grants from the California Energy Commission, allowing San Francisco 49ers fans to get a charge while they’re at a game. Levi’s Stadium hosts about 20 major events and attracts 1.2 million visitors annually. A ribbon cutting ceremony for the project was held Wednesday.

The parking structure, which the city of Santa Clara owns, is also within walking distance to California’s Great America theme park and the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Forty-nine plug-in-electric vehicles will be able to charge simultaneously and includes solar photovoltaic panels with storage energy systems to support the chargers. The city and Silicon Valley Power, the city’s municipal electricity utility, manage the parking structure.

Fast chargers allow vehicles to fully charge in 20 to 30 minutes. The others are Level 2 chargers, which will allow most vehicles to go from zero to full charge in four to eight hours.

The Energy Commission has funded electric vehicle chargers at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and recently approved funding for 102 electric vehicle chargers along Interstate 5, U.S. Route 101 and State Route 99.

The chargers, which are funded through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, supports Governor Edmund Brown Jr.’s goal to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025.

The state’s transportation system is responsible for 37 percent of California’s greenhouse gases, which are warming the earth to unsustainable levels. The Energy Commission is striving to transition the state from vehicles that operate on fossil fuels to ones that run on alternative energy such as electricity.

Energy Commission’s Diversity Program Integrates New Ideas to Broaden Outreach

For more than a year, the California Energy Commission has been formalizing its efforts to maximize opportunities for diverse communities to participate in and benefit from Energy Commission funding programs and other activities.

The process began last February when the Energy Commission established a Diversity Working Group to coordinate its various outreach activities. The group developed tools and strategies to enhance the diversity program, standards to measure its success, and processes for turning lessons learned into best practices.

The Energy Commission’s goals were formalized when it adopted a resolution that April committing to expanding its outreach to disadvantaged communities; increasing participation in its funding opportunities by women, minority, disabled veteran, and LGBT businesses; and increasing diversity in employment and promotion opportunities.

In October, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 865, the EmPower California Act, which put the force of law behind the Energy Commission’s diversity efforts.

Since 2015, the Energy Commission has:
  • Awarded nearly 30 grants to projects located in disadvantaged communities.
  • Provided almost $230 million in Proposition 39 funding to Local Educational Agencies in the top seven counties with the highest use of the Free or Reduced Meal Program. 
  • Provided funding for four solar energy systems to be installed on affordable housing-eligible projects in disadvantaged communities.
  • Awarded a contract supporting the Bright Schools program to a firm where 5 percent of its subcontractors are certified as a disabled veteran business enterprise.
  • Participated in more than 150 tribal consultations and liaison meetings on power plant and transmission issues. 
  • Launched a LinkedIn group page to connect potential applicants with contractors.
The Energy Commission recently hosted its first EmPower California Workshop where more than 130 participants from across the state learned about the agency's many funding programs and how to apply for them. Participants also learned about and had a chance to comment on its proposed Diversity Task Force that would be responsible for helping to increase diversity in the energy sector.

The workshop was a kickoff for AB 865, and Cesar Anda from Assemblymember Luis Alejo’s office helped open the program. Assemblymember Alejo authored AB 865, which requires the Energy Commission to develop and implement a diversity outreach program for icontract, grant, and loan award programs and to address and promote local and targeted hiring.

Job seekers will have an opportunity to learn more about the Energy Commission’s employment opportunities at a diversity career fair April 29.

More information about the Energy Commission’s diversity program, career fair or AB 865, can be found here.