California to Offer $47M in Grants for Advanced Energy Communities

July 29, 2015
California plans to offer grants totaling $47 million to encourage creation of ‘advanced energy communities,’ places where electricity demand is met through efficiency, renewable energy, and storage.

California plans to offer grants totaling $47 million to encourage creation of ‘advanced energy communities,’ places where electricity demand is met through efficiency, renewable energy, and storage.

The California Energy Commission described the program in a draft solicitation scheduled for release in October.

Advanced energy communities achieve net zero energy with on-site renewables in a defined geographic area. They improve grid reliability and resiliency with technologies like energy storage, and help avoid construction of new transmission and distribution. The communities can be replicated or scaled to drive down costs.

Advanced energy communities also are economical: they provide affordable renewables and energy efficiency, and create a financially attractive market for developers, home owners and renters.

The draft solicitation requires that the communities be located in the service territories of California’s three major investor owned utilities, and serve disadvantaged communities or involve infill or greenfield development.

Any public or private entity may apply except for publicly owned utilities. Project teams must include one or more local city or county government located in the same geographic region. Other team members might include building developers, property managers, real estate agents, technology vendors, utilities and financiers.

Money will be awarded in two phases; the first will be for planning and permitting and the second for community build-out.

The funds will come from California’s electric program investment charge, or EPIC, a surcharge paid by electric utility customers of Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison.

Communities aren’t required to offer matching funds, but those that do will receive additional points in the competition.

The deadline for proposals will be January 2016 for Phase 1 and June 2018 for Phase 2, under a schedule outlined in the draft solicitation.

The commission is seeking comments on the proposal by Friday August 14, 2015. Comments can be emailed to [email protected].

The draft solicitation is available here.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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