By MPCO Staff
The California Energy Commission (CEC) hosted a pair of events in the fall that highlighted new and vital clean energy technologies in the state’s arsenal to help meet its aggressive climate goals.
Featuring thought, policy, and industry leaders, the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Symposium was held virtually, while the first-ever Building Electrification Summit occurred in person at the headquarters of the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA).
The ninth annual EPIC Symposium on Oct. 3 and 4 featured panel discussions on public investments in clean energy research, innovations to reduce end-user costs to electrify, new technologies that improve load flexibility, advancements in battery storage safety, energy efficiency improvements in the buildings sector, wildfire prevention and resilience techniques, and electric vehicle infrastructure.
Experts in energy technology, policy, and industry spoke at the symposium, including Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis; California State Senator Josh Becker, chair of the Senate Budget Committee for Resources, Environmental; and California State Senator Henry Stern, chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies. Speakers from the federal level included Evelyn Wang, director of U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and Jigar Shah, director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office.
EPIC is California’s premier clean energy research and development program. The program was established in 2012 and has supported more than 470 projects with $1.1 billion in funding that has helped awardees secure more than $10 billion in follow-on private investment. EPIC invests more than $160 million annually to accelerate technologies to advance an equitable clean energy future.
Several panelists, inspired by their own experiences leveraging EPIC funding, talked about how public programs play an important role in developing California’s clean energy future.
Gradient CEO Vince Romanin said well-designed public programs support companies through the entire innovation and implementation process.
“This is a time where we have a really urgent need to make massive shifts in our infrastructure,” he said. “The Energy Commission has been … leading the country in this. Programs like RAMP and BRIDGE have helped connect all of the dots from initial idea to scale-up.”
The symposium also featured a virtual exhibit hall showcasing a variety of EPIC-funded projects.
“The EPIC program is something all Californians should be proud of,” CEC Chair David Hochschild said. “This is really the seabed for the climate solutions that our state and our world so desperately need.”
The event was held in partnership with EPIC co-administrators Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric Company. EPIC is funded by California utility customers under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. Recordings from the entire symposium are available online here.
Building Electrification Summit
The Building Electrification Summit took place Oct. 10 and 11 at CNRA headquarters in Sacramento. This partnership between the CEC and EPRI explored equitable and effective solutions for building electrification.
Building electrification is the process of replacing appliances that rely on gas or fossil fuels with electric appliances that can use clean energy. Because home appliances, air conditioning, and space and water heating represent a large share of the state’s power consumption, building electrification is a cornerstone of California’s plan for carbon neutrality.
Summit panels and breakout discussions explored industry innovations, affordable consumer options, workforce development, public funding programs, communication strategies for industry growth, and more. Speakers included CNRA Secretary Wade Crowfoot; Liane Randolph, chair of the California Air Resources Board; and Martha Guzman, Pacific Southwest regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The summit also featured poster presentations and a showcase of new electric appliances such as A. O. Smith’s heat pump water heater and LG’s induction stove.
Representatives from government, nonprofits, and the private sector stressed the urgency of expanding building electrification efforts to as many homes as possible. During the summit, 10 of the world’s largest manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers of building heating and cooling equipment signed an agreement committing to actions aimed at achieving California’s goal to have six million electric heat pumps installed by 2030.
“People are watching. We are an example for not just Californians but also for the rest of the nation and the rest of the world,” CEC Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister said. “If we succeed – and I firmly believe that we will – everyone else will take note.”
Speakers also emphasized the importance of accessibility in energy electrification. Ensuring affordable options exist for low-income communities will enable more consumers to adopt building electrification technologies, accelerating California’s progress toward its emissions target.
“Energy justice is going to have to be at the forefront,” said Ramachandran Narayanamurthy, deputy director of the DOE’s Building Technologies Office. “How do we actually reframe it so that we are thinking about underserved communities and affordable housing as the starting point for this transition?”