PG&E Awarded $1 Million for Energy Storage Research

SACRAMENTO - The California Energy Commission today approved a $1 million research grant to Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) to demonstrate a compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant.

"In order to meet California's renewable energy goals, it is critical that we invest in energy storage research," said Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert B. Weisenmiller. "This project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve grid reliability, and lower electric power system costs."

The San Francisco-based utility company will verify the performance of advanced, CAES technology to provide support to the state's electric grid. The project will use excess wind energy to compress air into depleted natural gas reservoirs within PG&E's territory. The stored compressed air will be used to generate electricity during high demand periods.

The first phase of the project aims to establish costs and benefits of the technology, and validate system reliability and durability to select a suitable site for the plant in California. When completed, the facility will be the third CAES plant operating in the world, and the first on the West Coast.

The Energy Commission grant will provide a cost share for the first phase of the project costing $50 million. The remaining balance will be paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy and other funding sources.

Commissioners also approved a $200,000 grant to the University of California, Berkeley to develop a guidebook on Building Efficiency Standards benefits for Local Governments as it pertains to natural gas efficiency standards. The project will document the environmental, economic, and equity costs and benefits of mandatory and voluntary natural gas efficiency standards, both for new buildings and for retrofits of existing commercial and residential structures.

Funding for the projects come from the Energy Commission's research and development program. The program supports public interest research and development that helps improve the quality of life in California by bringing environmentally safe, reliable, and affordable energy services and products to the marketplace.

Funds will be paid to the grantees upon receipt of invoices.

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