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Court Protects California’s Largest Program for Clean Energy Research and Development

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California’s track record as a leader for developing cutting-edge clean energy and energy savings technologies was not created overnight.  For over a decade, a nominal charge on monthly electricity bills has funded research and development efforts to bring technologies to the marketplace that have helped Californians save electricity (and money on our electricity bills) and improve the ways in which we generate electricity from renewable energy resources to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The funds have also been used to understand how our electricity system may become more vulnerable to the impacts of global warming—namely extreme heat events, droughts, and wildfires. Unfortunately, with the historic drought and a season of wildfires still to come, these issues are looming larger than ever before.

In 2012, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) to continue the state’s clean energy R&D efforts for another 10 years. The program will invest roughly $160 million per year in research, development, and deployment programs to help us lower the cost of decarbonizing our electricity grid and prepare our aging electricity infrastructure to become more reliable and resilient in the face of climate change.

Southern California Edison Company sued the CPUC over implementation of the program, and UCS and Vote Solar joined the Natural Resources Defense Council to help defend the program in court. On Wednesday, the California state appellate court upheld the state’s ability to implement EPIC, representing a huge win for California electricity customers, businesses, and the clean tech economy. It’s a relief and exciting to know that the state can continue to push forward on finding better and cheaper ways for us to keep the lights on in a clean and sustainable manner. Research and development for a cleaner energy future is a critical first step to bringing new technologies to market that will expand job opportunities for Californians and help the state continue its role as a clean energy leader for the rest of the country and the world.

Posted in: Energy Tags: ,

About the author: Laura Wisland is a senior energy analyst and an expert on California renewable energy policies. She holds a master’s degree in public policy. See Laura's full bio.

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  • Richard Solomon

    THANKS for UCS’s efforts to protect the EPIC. While this is not a total solution, it helps Calif to continue to pursue the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Readers should realize that SCE is the company which owns the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Despite ongoing problems with steam pipes that kept corroding/leaking SCE wanted the NRC to approve the gradual re-opening of the plant based on its promises to ‘fix the problem.’ It had not been able to ‘fix’ it for a few years. Fortunately, the NRC did not go along with these proposals from SCE. It required that ALL the problems be resolved before the plant could re-open. SURPRISE! SCE decided not to re-open under those conditions.

    Bottom line: SCE is more interested in profits than it is in providing safe and clean energy to its customers.

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