California Offers $19.5 Million for Distributed Generation Research

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The California Energy Commission is offering $19.5 million in awards for distributed generation research projects that solve specific problems in the electricity sector.

Issued August 12, the request for proposals (PON-14-303) will fund pre-commercial research and development of distributed biopower and photovoltaics.

The commission plans to award lab-scale, and pilot-scale demonstration projects in four areas: modular woody biomass ($6 million); waste-to-energy, including strategies that use California’s organic waste streams to generate electricity and useful thermal energy to achieve cost parity with fossil-fuel power by 2020 ($4.5 million); smart inverter technologies ($4 million); and advanced PV systems ($5 million).

Applicants may submit more than one applications, but each application may address only one of the four areas.

Proposals will be evaluated first for eligibility. Those that past the first stage will then be scored. Points will be calculated based on a proposal’s:

  • Technical merit and need
  • Technical approach
  • Impact and benefits for customers of California investor-owned utilities
  • Team qualifications
  • Budget and cost-effectiveness
  • Funds spent in California
  • Labor and fringe benefits
  • Matching Funding

Both public and private entities may apply.

Funding will come from a utility ratepayer surcharge, the Electric Program Investment Charge, which collects $162 million per year.

The commission will hold pre-application workshops April 21 and April 26. Applications are due at 3 p.m. October 20. The commission expects to announce awards December 15. Grant agreements will run March 2015 through March 2019.

The RFP is available at

The solicitation is called “Advancing Cleaner, Less Costly, More Reliable Distributed Generation to Enable Customer Solutions and Zero-Net Energy Communities.”

The commission noted that it plans to issue two more inverter solicitations before September: 1) “Demonstrating Secure, Reliable Microgrids and Grid-linked Electric Vehicles to Build Resilient, Low-Carbon Facilities and Communities,”which will focus on use of the 1547a smart inverter in demonstrations to support and advance microgrids. 2) “Developing Technology Improvements for a Flexible and Responsive Electricity Grid,” which will prepare for smart inverter Phase II communications capabilities.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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