Sacramento, California - During its first business meeting of the new year, the California Energy Commission approved nearly $18 million to fund projects that will help the state meet its climate and energy goals. Twelve million dollars will go toward three alternative fuel projects, $4 million will help fund two geothermal projects and $3.5 million will help fund local energy efficiency projects.

The three alternative fuels projects will receive funding through the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), which supports technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on petroleum-based fuels. Recipients include:

  • The Regents of the University of California: $11.2 million to administer an incentive program to put more natural gas vehicles on California roads.
  • U.S. General Services Administration: $600,000 to install at least 50 electric vehicle charging stations in existing federal facilities in California.
  • Linde LLC: $300,000 for operation and maintenance costs and data collection for a new hydrogen refueling station that opened in West Sacramento in December.

The two geothermal projects will receive funding through the Energy Commission's Geothermal Grant and Loan Program, which provides funding for research and development of new or existing geothermal resources and technologies and is open to eligible private companies and local agencies. Funds come from royalty and lease payments made by geothermal developers operating on federal land in California. Recipients include:

  • The Modoc Joint Unified School District: $3.1 million to expand the existing geothermal heating system at Modoc High School to include two additional schools and the public pool in Alturas. The expanded system is projected to save the school district more than $4.2 million in fuel and electricity costs over 25 years.
  • Modoc County: $1.1 million for geothermal research, analysis and exploratory drilling in the Surprise Valley Hot Springs area. The funds will also be used to install and demonstrate the effectiveness of a small geothermal distributed energy unit at the Surprise Valley Hot Springs Resort. The unit will offset the electrical load of the Surprise Valley Hot Springs Resort and could save the resort more than $10,000 annually in electricity cost.

The Energy Commission also approved $3.5 million in loans through the Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) program for the cities of San Mateo and Morro Bay. ECAA provides zero- or low-interest loans to public entities for energy efficiency or energy generation projects. Loans are paid back within 20 years using savings from reduced energy costs. ECAA loan recipients include:

  • San Mateo: $3,000,000 loan at one percent interest to replace more than 5,000 streetlight fixtures with LED lighting. The project is expected to save about $270,000 annually in utility expenses. The city also anticipates receiving $404,000 in utility incentives. The simple payback on the loan is 11 years.
  • Morro Bay: $562,000 loan at one percent interest to replace 14 heating, ventilating and air conditioning units, install programmable thermostats and install four solar energy photovoltaic systems. The project is expected to save about $35,000 annually in utility expenses. The simple payback on the loan is 16 years.

Other actions

The Energy Commission adopted the California Energy Demand Updated Forecast, 2015-2025 report that provides updated baseline forecasts of electricity consumption and peak demand within the state. The report uses recent economic and demographic assumptions and an additional year of historical data.

Timed for its 40th anniversary this month, the Commission also unveiled its new seal to reflect policies that encourage renewable energy resources. The seal was designed in-house and replaces the previous seal designed in the mid-seventies.

A detailed list of all items before the Energy Commission at today's business meeting can be found online.