EPIC Symposium Underscores Importance of Energy Innovation in California

It was standing room only as attendees of the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Symposium listened as researchers, clean energy experts, and others discussed issues such as the catastrophic impacts of climate change and ways to involve low-income and disadvantaged communities in the 21st century grid.

The annual event is hosted by the California Energy Commission, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company, and San Diego Gas & Electric Company. The February 7 event, which drew a crowd of more than 600, is a forum for industry leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and others to discuss EPIC-funded research transforming California’s electricity system.

Each year, the EPIC program invests about $160 million for clean energy innovations, strategies, and applications that help the state meet its energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

“Climate is the reason we’re so focused on energy innovation in California,” said Laurie ten Hope, deputy director of the Energy Commission’s Research and Development Division, during opening remarks for the symposium.

The all-day event featured panels focused on issues such as increasing building efficiency, developing energy solutions for low-income families, reducing energy use in the food processing industry, and making the grid more resilient to the effects of climate change.

California State Senator Nancy Skinner, who was a keynote speaker, said energy innovation may also help the state overcome a future of droughts, floods and fires.

“I’m a big fan of EPIC because we need the research dollars and project piloting dollars to assist us,” Skinner said.

There were sessions highlighting the California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur (CalSEED) program which supports early-stage clean entrepreneurs and EPIC-funded resources to help energy technology developers and customers navigate the clean energy landscape.

Symposium participants included experts from the Energy Commission, utility companies, the building industry, academia, the clean tech industry, and business. State Assemblymember Autumn Burke was also a keynote speaker. California Public Utilities Commissioner Martha Guzman-Aceves and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross moderated panels.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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