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California Energy Commission awards more than $15M to advance biofuels, plug-in and V2G research

The California Energy Commission unanimously approved funding of more than $15 million to projects that will advance biofuels and electric vehicle research in California.

These grants are provided through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The program, created by Assembly Bill 118 (Núñez, Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007), provides approximately $100 million annually to encourage the development and use of new vehicle technologies and alternative and renewable fuels to help attain the state's climate change policies. (Earlier post.) The award recipients are:

  • California Institute of Technology, located in Pasadena, will receive $5 million to fund the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), established in 2010 as aUSDepartment of Energy Energy Innovation Hub. The JCAP team, which includes the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is working to develop revolutionary methods of generating biofuels from sunlight, in a process akin to natural photosynthesis. This award helps to fulfill a cost-sharing target for the recipient's $122 million award from the Department of Energy.

  • Rand Corporation, based in Santa Monica, will receive $4,474,558 to evaluate the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program and projects. The evaluation will consider the impacts, processes, market effects and costs of the program, and will help to guide future program efforts.

  • Electricore Inc. will receive $2,325,954 to demonstrate battery-electric medium-duty trucks. Electricore Inc., based in Valencia (Los Angeles County), will administer the project, and ZeroTruck of Laguna Niguel (Orange County) will build up to 14 trucks for the project. ZeroTruck will provide match funding of $948,424. The trucks will be tested in various locations, including Google in the Bay Area, the City of Santa Monica and the Port of Los Angeles.

  • Electric Power Research Institute, based in Palo Alto, will receive $964,210 to retrofit five existing heavy-duty diesel work trucks with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrain system. The project will demonstrate the performance, fuel savings and emissions reductions for the work trucks in Southern California. The demonstration vehicles include tree maintenance trucks and a telephone pole installation truck.

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkeley, will receive $1 million as match funding for a $3.75-million project to demonstrate vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology for an all-electric heavy duty non-tactical vehicle fleet at Los Angeles Air Force Base. The fleet vehicles will be used to explore the revenue-generating capability of V2G technology by participating in the California’s electricity markets, where the vehicles can at different times charge from the grid and also discharge energy into the grid to meet demand. The Department of Defense is providing $2.75 million for the project at the lab, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

  • New Leaf Biofuel LLC will receive $511,934 to expand the production capacity of its existing biodiesel facility, from 1.5 million to 5 million gallons a year. New Leaf, located in San Diego, collects used cooking oil from more than 1,500 restaurants and industrial kitchens and converts it into biodiesel. Users of New Leaf fuel include the US Navy, and the cities of San Diego, Oceanside and Chula Vista.

The Energy Commission is also awarding $1,074,000 in buy-down incentives for 46 alternative-fuel vehicles. These incentives help pay the difference between the cost of conventional gas- or diesel-powered vehicles and new vehicles that use propane or natural gas. Eligible vehicles meet all the emission requirements of the Air Resources Board and are fully warranted by their manufacturers. Purchased vehicles must be registered and driven in California at least 90% of the time for three years.

The newly approved buy-down incentives go to the following companies:

  • TEC of California Inc. (Oakland) received $884,000 for the buy-down of 34 natural gas Mack Truck vehicles in the heavy-duty gross vehicle weight range of 26,001 pounds or greater.

  • Villa Ford Inc. (Orange) received $60,000 for the buy-down of three natural gas Ford Motor Company vehicles in the medium-duty gross vehicle weight range of 14,001 to 26,000 pounds.

  • Tom’s Truck Center (Santa Ana) received $50,000 for the buy-down of five propane medium-duty vehicles of 14,001 to 26,000 pounds gross weight. The vehicles are manufactured by Anaheim-based Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc.

  • Carmenita Truck Center (Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles County) received $80,000 for the buy-down of four natural gas medium-duty Ford Motor Company vehicles of 14,001 to 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.


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