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The Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council and PIER California Energy Innovation

California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have combined forces to promote new cost-effective, energy saving technologies

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The Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council  coordinates among its members to facilitate the assessment of promising energy efficient emerging technologies that will benefit California customers.

California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) have combined forces to promote new cost-effective, energy saving technologies—the basis for products and services that strengthen the region’s economy while meeting today’s and tomorrow’s environmental challenges.

Building on the Energy Action Plan, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has authorized IOU energy efficiency programs designed to save 23 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year and 45 million therms of natural gas per year by 2013. That’s the annualized equivalent of taking nearly 2 million cars off the road and lighting 3.4 million homes.
To help achieve these ambitious energy savings goals, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, and San Diego Gas and Electric and the CEC have created the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (ETCC). 

The ETCC smoothes the path from the laboratory to the marketplace for promising technologies that help Californians save money and energy. It provides a collaborative forum for the five stakeholder organizations to exchange information on opportunities and results from their Emerging Technologies activities. The CPUC finances ETCC operations out of IOU ratepayer Public Goods Charge funds, and provides regulatory guidance. The ETCC meets four times a year.

Saving Californians Energy through Technology

The ETCC focuses on identification, assessment, and rapid commercialization of energy-reducing technologies, such as advanced lighting, water heating, and air-conditioning systems, for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. ETCC stakeholders are committed to helping achieve California's energy-reduction goals through an array of activities:
  • Streamlining the market introduction of energy-saving products and services by screening potential technologies, assessing  them to validate performance and customer acceptance, and recommending the proven winners for IOU customer education and rebate programs. The ETCC is particularly interested in technologies that offer large energy savings and rapid market penetration.
  • Leveraging strengths and experience by working with partners throughout the state and the country. These partners include universities and research organizations, consulting firms, professional associations, technology companies, venture capitalists, and utilities. It is through these partnerships—which are pivotal to ETCC’s success—that potential technologies are discovered and evaluated. In general, partners provide much of the research and development necessary for an idea to take shape and, if proven successful, reach the market.
  • Providing broad access to technology assessment results by maintaining an online project database that gives the public ready access to information about the latest in energy efficient technologies. Acting as an Emerging Technologies knowledge base, this resource provides a forum for real-time idea exchange between ETCC members and their partners, allowing for quick dissemination of innovative solutions and helping prevent redundant efforts. The database also lets utility customers and others interested parties stay abreast of the latest in energy saving technology. 
  • Providing public outreach by hosting energy efficiency events, such as the bi-annual Emerging Technologies in Energy Efficiency Summit. These summits provide a forum for the ETCC and its partners to discuss and discover the latest breakthroughs in energy efficiency. In addition, representatives from each utility provide Emerging Technologies events and classes specific to each market’s unique needs. Check your utility’s website to see upcoming events.
If you are interested in hosting an Emerging Technologies assessment project at your business home, please fill out the online form.

The website of the statewide Emerging Technologies (ET) program states that they seek to accelerate the introduction of "near market ready" energy efficiency innovations that are not widely adopted by utility customers in California.

California Energy Commmission PIER Program Results

The CEC's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program funds a significant number of projects each year, some of which produce "near market ready" technologies appropriate for ET demonstrations. Each individual utility ET Program consists of activities that are coordinated with other utilities and with PIER projects, as well as activities that are unique to the utilities' service territories and customer bases.

PIER funding efforts are focused on the following RD&D program areas:
  • Buildings End-Use Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Innovations Small Grant Program
  • Energy-Related Environmental Research
  • Energy Systems Integration
  • Environmentally-Preferred Advanced Generation
  • Industrial/Agricultural/Water End-Use Energy Efficiency
  • Renewable Energy Technologies

For a list of PIER success stories, click here

Additional information about the program can be found at

Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 8/12/2008

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