California Public Utilities Commission Establishes California Institute for Climate Solutions and Provides $600 Million in Funding Over 10 Years

On April 10, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously voted (5-0) to create and fund a new California Institute for Climate Solutions (CICS).  As described in the CICS charter, its mission is:

To administer grants for mission-oriented, applied and directed research that results in practical technological solutions and supports development of policies likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or help California’s electricity and natural gas sectors adapt to the impacts of climate change.

To speed the transfer, deployment, and commercialization of technologies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or otherwise mitigate the impacts of climate change in California.

To facilitate coordination and cooperation among relevant institutions, including private, state, and federal entities, in order to most efficiently achieve mission-oriented, applied and directed research.

The CICS will receive $60 million per year in funding for 10 years via a new surcharge on ratepayer bills. In addition, the CPUC required that 100% of the $600 million ratepayer investment be matched with non-ratepayer funds over the 10-year period.   The CPUC also mandated that a minimum of 85% of the total CICS funding be allocated to competitively awarded grants for applied and directed research and development.

The CICS will have a Governing Board co-chaired by the CPUC President and the University of California President, with seats reserved for the State Senate and Assembly, and the Director of the CPUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates. Other members of the board will be come from other state agencies, universities, utilities, private firms, underserved communities, and consumer/environmental advocacy groups.

In commenting on the creation of the CICS California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said:

California leads the nation in aggressively battling global warming with our policies to reduce greenhouse gases and our ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy goals.  I applaud the CPUC for taking another important step by creating the California Institute for Climate Solutions, which will bring together the state’s preeminent colleges, universities, and laboratories to fight climate change.

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